March 22, 2009
2009 NCAA Basketball Championship
No. 13 Cleveland State (26-10) vs. No. 12 Arizona (20-13)
Date: Sunday, March 20, 2009
Time: 2:40 p.m. EDT
Site: American Airlines Arena (19,600) - Miami, Fla.
TV: CBS (Ian Eagle & Jim Spanarkel)
Radio: WHKW 1220 AM (Cleveland) & WHKZ, 1440 AM (Warren) - (Al Pawlowski)
Series: First Meeting
SETTING THE SCENE: After blowing past 12th-ranked Wake Forest on Friday, Cleveland State will play in the second round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championships for only the second time in school history when the Vikings face 12th-seeded Arizona on Sunday, March 22 beginning at approximately 2:40 p.m. in American Airlines Arena. The game, which is a part of the Indianapolis Regional, will start approximately 30 minutes after the completion of the Syracuse vs. Arizona State contest, which will tip-off at 12:10 p.m. EDT. The Vikings enter the second round of the tournament playing their best basketball of the year, winning 13 of their last 15 games, including five straight overall with the last two coming against ranked opponents. With a 26-10 record, the Vikings have compiled the secon-highest single season win total in program history, trailing only the school record 29 wins set in 1985-86. This will be the first meeting ever between CSU and Arizona, who knocked off fifth-seeded Utah, 84-71, in a first round game on Friay to improve to 20-13 overall.
PREVIEWING CLEVELAND STATE: After last year becoming one of at least 16 teams in NCAA history to go from losing 20 games in one season to winning 20 the next, the Vikings have taken the next step in the program's evolution, winning 26 games for only the second time in program history and claiming the Horizon League Championship title and earning a berth in the NCAA Championship for only the second time in school history. The lineup is centered around the group of seven returning players who keyed the success last year, including the duo of forward J'Nathan Bullock (15.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg) and point guard Cedric Jackson (10.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 5.5 apg), both of whom were named to the five-player Preseason All-Horizon League first team this year. Earning spots in the starting lineup are the sophomore duo of off-guard Norris Cole (13.2, 2.6, 2.4) and small forward D'Aundray Brown (7.4, 5.7, 2.5). Senior Chris Moore (5.3, 3.0) has started each game at center with seniors George Tandy (5.8, 5.2) and Renard Fields (1.1, 0.9) each factoring significantly into the playing rotation. The final three spots in the rotation come from the group consisting of freshmen guards Jeremy Montgomery (3.9, 1.0 assists), Trevon Harmon (5.2, 1.2), who became eligible at the semester, and Josh McCoy (0.9, 1.0).
HEAD COACH Gary Waters: The 2007-08 Horizon League Co-Coach of the Year, Gary Waters has needed just three seasons and an even 100 games to convert Cleveland State into one of the top programs in the Horizon League. A 34-year collegiate coaching veteran, he owns a 228-179 record in 13 seasons as a head coach and a 57-44 mark in his third season at CSU, taking eight of his 13 squads to post-season play. He posted a 92-60 record in five seasons at Kent State, making NCAA appearances in both 1998-99 and 2000-01 and becoming the third coach in Mid-American Conference history to be named league coach of the year in successive years. Waters moved to Rutgers in 2001-02, compiling a 79-75 mark in five seasons, including three trips to the NIT. Waters, who led the Vikings to a 21-13 mark last year, earned his 200th career win on Feb. 23, 2008 when the Vikings defeated Marist.
WATERS TO COACH 102ND GAME AT CSU: The second round NCAA Championship game against Arizona will be the 102nd game for Gary Waters as head coach at CSU. With a .564 winning percentage (57-44), he ranks second in school history, trailing only Kevin Mackey (142-69, .673).
TV TIMEOUT: Sunday's game will be televised nationally by CBS, making it the 13th Viking game that was televised either nationally or regionally this year. CSU is 7-5 in televised games this year, winning road contests at Syracuse (SportsTime Ohio), Detroit (STO), UIC (STO), Loyola (STO), Butler (ESPN) and vs. Green Bay (ESPNU) and Wake Forest (CBS) and falling twice to Butler (ESPNU & ESPN2) and in road games at Green Bay (STO), Milwaukee (STO) and Youngstown State (ESPNU).
CSU IN THE NCAA STATS: Senior Cedric Jackson, the Horizon League leader in both assists (5.4) and steals (3.0), ranks sixth nationally in steals and 26th in assists in the latest NCAA statistics, which were released on Friday (March 12). As a team, CSU is in the top 50 nationally in five categories, ranking 12th in scoring defense (58.9), 23rd in both steals (8.7) and turnover margin (+3.5), 50th in both field goal defense (.406) and won-loss percentage (.714).
. . . JACKSON TAKES OVER TOTAL STEALS LEAD: A three steal performance against Wake Forest on Friday allowed senior Cedric Jackson to take over the national lead with 107 total steals. Jackson had entered the game with 104 thefts, one steal behind VMIs Chavis Holmes who completed his season with 105 steals. No other player in the country has more than 90 steals this season.
THE FIFTH DEGREE: All five of the Viking seniors are on schedule to graduate this year. J'Nathan Bullock, Cedric Jackson, Renard Fields and George Tandy will each earn their sheepskin during spring commencement ceremonies with Chris Moore picking up his degree in August after taking a couple of classes during summer session.
CSU IN THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP: This is Cleveland State's second appearance in the NCAA Men's Basketball Championships and the first in 23 years. The school's first appearance was a memorable one, earning the distinction of being the tourney's first Cinderalla team. The Vikings became the first No. 14 seed to defeat a No. 3 seed when CSU defeated Bobby Knight's Indiana
. . . AND CSU STILL REMEMBERS WHERE IT PACKED THE GLASS SLIPPER: In two trips to the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship, the Vikings have earned the reputation for making the big upsets. CSU's first appearance in 1986 was a memorable one, earning the distinction of being the tourney's first Cinderalla team. The Vikings became the first No. 14 seed to defeat a No. 3 seed when CSU defeated Bobby Knight's Indiana in the opening round. CSU went on to defeat St. Joseph's in the second round before falling to a David Robinson-led Navy in the Sweet 16. In the opening round this year, CSU led from wire-to-wire in knocking off 12th-ranked Wake Forest allowing the Vikings to hold the distinction of the lowest seed in the tourney to advance to the second round.
LUCKY 13: The Vikings are a No. 13 seed in the NCAA Championship, a familiar ranking for head coach Gary Waters. After all, the last time Waters took a team to the NCAA Championships came in 2000-01 when Kent State earned a No. 13 seed. The Golden Flashes went on to upend No. 4 Indiana in an opening round game in San Diego before falling to Cincinnati in the second round.
CSU VS. THE NCAA FIELD: Cleveland State was 2-4 this past year against teams that made the NCAA Championship field, winning one of the three games against Butler, defeating Syracuse in the Carrier Dome and dropping road contests at Washington and West Virginia.
. . . AND CSU AGAINST POST-SEASON FIELD: The Vikings are a combined 6-7 against teams that made any of the four postseason tournaments. In addition to the 2-4 NCAA mark, CSU is 0-1 against the NIT (Kansas State), 2-2 vs. the College Basketball Invite (2-1 vs. Green Bay, 0-1 Wichita State) and 2-0 vs. CollegeInsider.com (Kent State & Oakland).
VIKINGS LOVE THE SUNSHINE STATE: Cleveland State is playing in a familiar destination this week for the NCAA Championship. After all, the Vikings went 3-0 to win the O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic which was hosted by Florida International in Miami in November. Last season, the Vikings claimed wins over South Florida, Florida State and Florida Atlantic as part of a second place finish in the Glenn Wilkes Classic in Daytona Beach. In two seasons, CSU is 7-1 playing in the State of Florida.
VIKINGS ACCOMPLISH A FIRST: The win over Butler in the Horizon League Championship game allowed the Vikings to become the first team in league history to win the title without the benefit of at least one bye since the tourney was changed to its current format following the 2001-02 season. In fact, in the six tournaments under the current format, no team that had to play three games reached the title game.
NOT A BAD MONTH: After going 6-2 in the month of February, the Vikings have been perfect in the month of March to date, winning all five games they have played. Playing in March is kind of new to CSU as the Vikings were just 3-11 in March since the 1994-95 season.
NEVER ON A SUNDAY: Cleveland State will find itself in some unfamiliar territory against Arizona on Sunday as it will play for the first time this year on a Sunday. The Vikings have played multiple games on every day of the week. . . except Sunday. CSU fans can relax a bit however as Gary Waters guided the Vikings to a 2-0 record on Sunday in 2007-08 and were 2-1 in 2006-07, including a win over ACC member Miami (Fla.).
ANOTHER (RANKED) ONE BITES THE DUST: Before Gary Waters came to Cleveland State, the Vikings had defeated just one ranked opponent in 27 attempts. That statistic has changed over the last two seasons as CSU has gone 3-4 against Top 25 teams, including wins in back-to-back games at Butler on March 10 and vs. Wake Forest on March 20.
EVERYTHING STARTS WITH THE D: Keeping to his word, Gary Waters has built the 2008-09 Vikings around defense and the results of late have really been spectacular. CSU has held 18 of its 36 opponents to under 40-percent shooting from the field. In 36 games, only seven teams have shot better than 44-percent from the field.
. . . AND NOT A BAD SHOWING TO TOURNEY PLAY: In claiming Horizon League Championship victories over Detroit, UIC, Green Bay and Butler, the Vikings allowed their opponents to shoot just .378 (74-196) from the field. The tourney started with Detroit being held to under 40-percent shooting for the third time this season, going 18-for-47 (.383). In the second round, UIC made just 16 of its 50 field goal attempts for the fourth-lowest shooting percentage by a CSU opponent this year (.320). Green Bay snuck above the 40-percent mark in the final moments, going 23-for-57 (.404) in the semi-final and Butler managed just .405 shooting (17-42) in the title game.
THE BAKERY IS CLOSED: As the games continue to mean more and more to the Viking basketball team, CSU has responded by doing a better job of taking care of the ball. Over the last four games, CSU has turned the ball over just 33 times (8.3 tpg), including back-to-back efforts of seven turnovers at Butler and a season-low six vs. Wake Forest on Friday. For the year, the Vikings have turned the ball over 10 times or less in 12 games.
COLE LIKES THE BCS: There is something about playing a big game that gets sophomore Norris Cole to elevate his game to a higher level. After all, in the five games this season against the high major -- or BCS schools -- Cole is averaging 17.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.2 steals, shooting .454 from the field (35-77). He set a then-career high with 20 points and nine rebounds vs. Washington (Nov. 18), tallied 17 points vs. Kansas State (Nov. 22), 16 at Syracuse (Dec. 15) and 12 against West Virginia (Dec. 6). He came back on Friday to lead CSU with 22 points against Wake Forest. Up next. . . Arizona.
VIKINGS SET GAMES PLAYED MARK: The Arizona game will be the 37th contest of the year for CSU, further extending the school record for most games played in a single season. The old record didn't stand very long, being set last year when the Vikings went 21-13. Six players have seen action in all 36 games to date.
VIKINGS TRYING TO SURVIVE ANOTHER BROWN OUT: When sophomore D'Aundray Brown left the Detroit game with a grade three sprain of he medial colateral ligament in his knee, it marked the second time that the Youngstown, Ohio native was knocked out of the lineup this year because of injury. Brown left early in the Dec. 30 game at Wright State with a stress fracture of the rib cage on his right side, causing him to miss eight games during which time CSU went just 5-3. His status for the NCAA Championship will be determined later in the week.
FOUR (FOR) STARTERS: The running joke in the CSU camp is that it takes an act of congress for CSU head coach Gary Waters to change his starting lineup. Athough funny, the joke does run true as Waters has utilized just three starting lineups this season with the only changes being made because of injury. The quartet of J'Nathan Bullock, Cedric Jackson, Norris Cole and Chris Moore have each started all 36 games (a school record), becoming the first foursome to start every game since 1987-88 (Ken McFadden, Eric Mudd, Kenny Robertson & Warren Bradley). When healthy, D'Aundray Brown has started 23 times with George Tandy (6 starts) and Trevon Harmon (7) also starting this year. For the record, congress is not in session right now, though Waters did make a change against Wake Forest, inserting the taller Tandy into the lineup for Harmon..
BULLOCK & JACKSON EARN LEAGUE HONORS: Seniors J'Nathan Bullock and Cedric Jackson were each named to the 2009 All-Horizon League team, which was released on March 2. Bullock earned first team honors for the second straight season while Jackson repeated as a member of the second team. Bullock earns the honor after ranking third in the league in scoring (15.3) and rebounding (7.0) and 10th in offensive rebounding (1.9). Jackson picks up the award after becoming the fifth player in league history to lead the conference in both assists (5.4) and steals (3.0) while also being the top rebounding guard in the loop (5.7).
. . . AND JACKSON EARNS DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR KUDOS: Senior Cedric Jackson earned an additional league honor, being singled out as the Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year in balloting of the league's 10 head coaches. Jackson, who was an all-defensive team choice last year, ranks sixth in the nation in steals this season with a league-record 107, the second-highest single season total in CSU history. He has a steal in all but two games this year, making multiple thefts in 31 of CSU's 36 games. His 107 steals this year and 88 last year are the top two single season steal totals in Horizon League history.
1,000 MINUTE MEN: Cedric Jackson, Norris Cole and J'Nathan Bullock head into the Horizon League Championship game having accomplished something that no Viking trio had ever done. . . each play 1,000 minutes in a season. In fact, the trio ranks first, second and third all-time in minutes played in a season. Jackson leads the way with a school record 1,195 minutes, 124 more than the old CSU single season record of 1,071 minutes set by Theo Dixon in 2000-01. Cole is second on the list with 1,180 minutes while Bullock (1,152) is third. The accomplishment is nothing new to Jackson and Bullock, who are two of the three players with two 1,000-minute seasons.
. . . AND NOBODY HAS PLAYED MORE THAN BULLOCK: Senior J'Nathan Bullock has definitely made his mark in Viking basketball annals. By playing 34 minutes against Wichita State on Feb. 21, he broke the school record for career minutes played, which was formerly held by James Madison (3,576 from 1996-00). Bullock enters the second round of the NCAA Championship owning school records with 129 games played, 124 games started, 105 consecutive games started and 3,840 career minutes played.
JACKSON REACHES 1,000 POINT MARK: An 11-point effort against Butler on Feb. 28 allowed senior Cedric Jackson to surpass the 1,000 point mark for his collegiate career. He enters the Arizona game with 1,091 career points. A fifth-year senior, Jackson totaled 231 points in his two seasons at St. John's and then scored 473 points in his Viking debut last season. He has 387 points this year, raising his CSU total to 860 points.
VIKINGS SET WOLSTEIN CENTER WIN RECORD: The win over Detroit on March 3 allowed the Vikings to set the Wolstein Center record with their 13th win in the building this year. With a 13-2 record, CSU surpasses the old mark of 12 wins (12-2 record) set last year. The victory over Detroit was also CSU's 11th straight in the building, an ongoing school record (old record was seven, done three times).
. . . AND BUILDING A HOME COURT ADVANTAGE: When Gary Waters took over as head coach in the spring of 2006, he made note of the team's 5-10 home record the year before and indicated that for the program to succeed, the Wolstein Center would have to become a much more difficult place to play. The Vikings accomplished that goal in 2007-08 when CSU set a school record for wins in a season by going 12-2 in games played in the Wolstein Center. CSU was also 8-1 in league games, falling just short of the perfect 9-0 home league record in 1992-93. With a 13-2 home mark this year (8-1 in league play), CSU is now 25-4 on campus over the last two seasons, a considerable improvement over the 25-42 over the previous five seasons.
20-20: The win over Youngstown State on Feb. 18 allowed the Vikings to claim the seventh 20-win season in school history. More important, combined with the 21 wins last year, CSU has posted back-to-back 20-win campaigns for the first time since the Vikings had four straight 20-win years from 1984-85 to 1987-88.
. . . AND GET NO. 26 VS. WAKE FOREST: The win over Wake Forest in the first round of the NCAA tournament gave the Vikings their 26th victory of the season, surpassing the 1986-87 team for the second-most wins in a season in school history. The school record is 29 wins set in 1985-86.
. . . AND VIKINGS GUARANTEE WINNING MARK: With only post-season tournament play left, the Vikings have assured themselves of finishing the season with a winning record. Combined with a 21-13 record last year, it marks the first back-to-back winning seasons since going 16-14 in 1999-00 and 19-13 in 2000-01.
IT ALL COMES DOWN TO SHOOTING: The statistic that jumps off the page when talking about the Vikings this year is that CSU is a perfect 23-0 when it shoots a higher field goal percentage than its opponents this year and is just 3-10 when their opponent shoots better from the field. The lone games that CSU was out-shot in but still managed to win came at Syracuse when the Orange shot .540 (27-50) while the Vikings were just 30-for-68 (.441), at home against Youngstown State on Feb. 18 and vs. Wake Forest on Friday.
A STATISTICAL ODDITY: CSU is 3-5 when its opponent shoots 50-percent or better. The three wins were against Wake Forest, at Valparaiso and at Syracuse.
BULLOCK REACHES 1,500 POINTS & 750 BOARDS: A seven-rebound effort against Youngstown State on Feb. 18 allowed senior J'Nathan Bullock to become the first player in school history to score 1,500 points and grab 750 rebounds in a career. Bullock, who started the year as one of 10 players in CSU history to record 1,000 points and 500 rebounds during a career, went over the 1,500-point mark vs. UIC on Jan. 10 and hit the 750-rebound mark against the Penguins. He enters the Arizona contest ranking fourth in school history with 1,793 points and sixth with 806 rebounds. He needs 170 points and 101 rebounds to move up a spot.
JACKSON ZONES IN ON A TRIPLE-DOUBLE: The Viking basketball program has played 1,765 games in 78 seasons of basketball and not once during that time has a player recorded a triple-double or double digit totals in three of the five major stat categories (points, rebounds, assists, blocked shots or steals). Cedric Jackson has flirted with the accomplishment several times during his career, but he has never come closer than he did three weeks ago. In the win over Milwaukee (Feb. 12), he needed just one more rebound and one more assist, totaling 11 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. Two days later vs. Green Bay, he fell two assists shy, scoring 11 points with 10 rebounds and eight assists.
JACKSON BREAKS ASSIST MARK, EYES STEAL TOTAL: With only the NCAA Championship to go in his collegiate career, senior Cedric Jackson is approaching the CSU school records for steals and assists in a season. His eight assists vs. Wake Forest in the first round of the NCAA Championship allowed him to extend his assist total to 198, breaking Ken McFadden's school record of 177 assists in a season, set in 1987-88. Jackson also owns the third-highest total of 168, accomplished last year. With 107 steals (6th nationally), Jackson is in second place on the CSU single season, 19 steals ahead of the 88 thefts he had last year and four steals behind Kenny Robertson's school record of 111 set in 1988-89.
. . . AND JACKSON OWNS LEAGUE STEAL MARK: With 18 steals over the last six games, Cedric Jackson has broken his own Horizon League record with 107 steals this season. He surpassed the 88 steals that he had last year, giving him the top two seasons in conference history.
. . . AND JACKSON HAS DONE IT WITH CONSISTENCY: Jackson's ability to create steals has allowed the senior to enter the NCAA Championships with multiple steals in 57 of the 70 games that he has played in at Cleveland State. Even more impressive is that he has made a steal in all but four of those games. He had his streak of 47 consecutive games with at least one steal snapped in the loss at Wichita State On Feb. 21.
FIELDS PLAYS IN HIS 107TH GAME & SET MARKS: With J'Nathan Bullock setting the school record for career games played, Renard Fields is also quietly making his mark in the record book. In the first round NCAA championship game against Wake Forest, the senior played in his 107th game, all coming in a reserve role. It is the most games played by a player without a start in school history, more than doubling up the previous high of 50 games set by Walter Evans from 1991-93. Among players who have played in at least 100 games at CSU, Greg Allen previously held the mark for fewest starts with five in 112 career games.
ACCEPTING CHARITY: After ranking second in school history with a .713 team free throw percentage last year, it seemed likely that their performance at the foul line would be a strength again this season. Unfortunately, CSU could manage just .634 shooting from the line in the 13 games before the holiday break, making 137 of its 216 free throws. Since the short break for the holidays however, the Vikings have come back to shoot .729 from the line, making 364 of their 499 free throws. CSU id ranked fifth in the league, shooting .701 (501-716).
JACKSON DOES THE LITTLE THINGS: When Cedric Jackson's scoring dropped at the start of the season, mostly due to the increased scoring ability of the players around him, head coach Gary Waters could only shake his head when he was asked, "What is wrong with Cedric?" Besides a drop in field goal percentage, there was nothing wrong. Jackson leads the league in assists (5.5) and steals (3.0), is fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.55), fifth in defensive rebounding (4.6) and seventh in rebounding (5.7). He is the top rebounding guard in the Horizon League.
BULLOCK RECORDS 105TH CONSECUTIVE START: When J'Nathan Bullock took the court for the first round NCAA Championship game against Wake Forest, it was his 105th consecutive start, an ongoing school record. The old mark was 86 set by Ken McFadden from 1985-89.
. . . AND GAME 130 IS NEXT FOR BULLOCK: When J'Nathan Bullock takes the court for the Arizona game, he will extend his own school records by playing in his 130th career game and 130th consecutive game. He broke the records formerly held by both Eddie Bryant and Clinton Ransey with 125 games played from 1983-87.
HARMON MAKES A BIG DEBUT: In the 25 games since becoming eligible at the semester break, freshman guard Trevon Harmon has averaged 5.2 points, supplying CSU with a much-needed scorer off the bench. On Jan. 8 vs. Loyola, he celebrated his first career start by scoring a career-high 17 points, 14 coming in the first half to help break open the game. On Jan. 3 at Detroit, he scored eight of his 10 points during a decisive 9-1 Viking run in the final five minutes that held off a late Detroit rally. Harmon, a 6-0 guard from Pasadena, Calif., was named the All-CIF Division II Player of the Year as a senior after averaging 28.0 points and 8.0 assists per game.
KEEPING IT TO 50: A better example of how strong the Viking defense has been this year is that CSU has held a school-record 11 opponents to 50 points or less in a game this season, the most since the then Fenn Foxes equaled the accomplishment in both the 1933-34 and 1935-36 seasons. The 40 points scored by Notre Dame College on Dec. 27 was the fewest allowed by CSU since Milwaukee scored just 34 points on Jan. 27, 2001. CSU's 58.9 scoring defense is 12th in the nation in the latest NCAA stats.
GOING FOR A RARE DOUBLE: Senior Cedric Jackson, who is the Horizon League leader in both assists (5.5) and steals (3.0), is attempting to become just the fifth player in league history to accomplish the feat. Jackson's 3.0 steals per game ranks fourth in the nation and is well ahead of Detroit's Woody Payne (2.2) in the league race while his 5.4 assists per contest, good for 26th in the nation, is well ahead of UIC's Spencer Stewart (4.8). Jackson is attempting to join Loyola's Darius Clemens (1980-81) and Earl Brown (1997-98), Detroit's Roy Simms (1982-83) and LaSalle's Paul Burke (1993-94).
. . . AND JACKSON IS THE ONLY 4x100 PLAYER: Another example of the versatility of Cedric Jackson came last year when he became the first player in school history to make 100 field goals and 100 free throws, hand out 100 assists and grab 100 rebounds in a season. He finished the year with 148 field goals, 131 free throws, 166 rebounds and 168 assists. He has achieved three of the four this year, entering the Arizona game with 130 field goals, 208 rebounds and 198 assists, but he has made just 94 free throws to date.
. . . BUT JACKSON IS CLOSING IN ON FREE THROW TOTAL: To say that Cedric Jackson is very focused while playing right now is an understatement. A .588 shooter from the line in the 31 regular season games (77-141), the senior has connected on 17 of his 21 attempts in the last five games (.810).
A TURNOVER TALE: One area of continued improvement for the Vikings this year has been turnover margin where CSU leads the Horizon League with +3.5 turnovers a game. The improvement has come at both ends of the court. After averaging 14.0 turnovers a season ago, the Vikings have done a better job taking care of the ball, turning it over just 12.3 times a game, including 10 or fewer turnovers 12 times this year with a season low of six coming against Wake Forest in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Defensively, CSU has turned up the heat, forcing 15.5 turnovers a game, 1.1 more than last year's 14.9 turnovers a game. CSU is ranked 19th nationally in turnover margin in the latest NCAA stats.
BULLOCK GOING FOR A 4TH SCORING CROWN: It took him six games into the season, but senior J'Nathan Bullock is in a familiar position, taking over the team lead in scoring (he is averaging 15.4 ppg entering the Arizona game). Bullock is attempting to become only the third player in CSU history to lead the team in scoring in four straight seasons. He started the streak as a freshman in 2005-06 when he was one of three Vikings in double figures for the year, averaging 11.3 points a game, the lowest average ever by a player who led the team. Bullock improved his average to 13.5 points in 2006-07 and trailed Cedric Jackson for most of last season until exploding for 39 points against Green Bay to take over the scoring lead for good. Bullock would join Franklin Edwards (1977-81) and Weldon Kytle (1961-65) as the only four-time scoring leaders.
SUCCESS 301: The third edition of Success Class under Gary Waters is utilizing the book Quiet Strength by Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy as the course text. Instituted at CSU in the summer of 2006, Waters used Success Class to teach the Viking players the finer points of what it takes to succeed. Success Class 101 used John Wooden's book, The Pyramid of Success while last year, Waters relied on John Maxwell's book Talent Is Never Enough to instruct the Vikings. The non-credited class is taught weekly by Waters to the Viking players over the summer and preseason months.
THE HEAVENLY HEAVE: When Cedric Jackson tossed in a 60-footer at the buzzer to give Cleveland State a 72-69 win at Syracuse on Dec. 15, it gave CSU its third ever win against a ranked opponent (3-27 overall). After snapping a 19-game losing streak to ranked opponents against Butler last year, the Vikings have now won four of their last five meetings against ranked teams (also beating No. 17 Butler in the Horizon League Championship game and No. 3 Wake Forest o Friday). The victory came against CSU's highest ranked opponent ever. Syracuse was ranked 11th with the previous wins coming over 14th-ranked Indiana in 1986 and 12th-ranked Butler last year.
NEXT UP: A victory against Arizona would send the Vikings into the regional semi-final against the winner of the Louisville-Siena game to be played either next Thursday (March 26) or Friday (March 27) at a time to be determined. The regional will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind.