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Tom Mieskoski

Norris_Cole_TCFFor the Cleveland State men's basketball team the Wisconsin trip has been a nightmare in recent years.

The Vikings have lost nine of their past 10 games at Wisconsin-Green Bay and 10 in a roll at Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

CSU (8-0) will try to end the losing streak this week as the Vikes open Horizon League play tonight at Green Bay (8 p.m.) and are at Milwaukee on Saturday (8 p.m).

"We are going to break that curse and go in there and get some wins in Wisconsin," said Norris Cole, who leads the Horizon League in scoring at 21.5 points per game.

In order to change CSU's luck, Vikings head coach Gary Waters has changed the way CSU travels to Wisconsin. Instead of flying into Milwaukee then taking a 2 ½-hour bus trip to Green Bay, CSU will take a charter plane directly to Green Bay.

"I thought we came closer (to winning a game) last year," said Waters, who has never beaten either Wisconsin school on the road in his five seasons at CSU. "I think one of the reasons why we came so close (to winning a game last year) was because we chartered there and were well rested when we went there to play."

So what makes it so tough to get a win there?

"It's a hostile environment," said Trevon Harmon.

Cole added, "It's cold (in Cleveland), but it's a different kind of cold (in Wisconsin). Everything is uncomfortable. It's like an ice rink in there. The floor level is freezing."

Waters thinks winning on the road at Louisiana and Akron earlier this season should help the Vikes deal with the tough atmosphere in Wisconsin.

"The team knows they can go on the road and win now," said Waters. "Louisiana fans called us every name in the book and we fought through it and Akron is a tough place to play. The next two games they'll have to play even harder (if they want to get a win)."


Tom Mieskoski


One of the biggest reasons why the Cleveland State men's basketball team is off to its best start in school history (6-0) is because of their much improved defense.

A year ago, teams were scoring at will against CSU's defense - 14 teams shot 50 percent or better from the field against the Vikings.

This season, CSU has kept five of their six opponents to 40 percent or less from the field.

CSU also leads the Horizon League in every defensive category - field goal percentage (36.9 percent), 3-point shooting percentage (24 percent) and scoring defense (57.7 points per game).

"I remember two years ago I made a comment (that) if we can shoot 40 percent (from the field) we can beat anyone in the country," CSU men's basketball coach Gary Waters said after CSU's 64-51 victory at Akron on Wednesday. "This team is on a similar line if they can shoot a certain percentage offensively their defense holds people at bay.

"That's what we have been working towards for a whole year to get to this point."

CSU's defense held UA's high-scoring offense, which came into Wednesday's game averaging 82.7 points per game, to season lows in points (51), field goal percentage (36 percent) and 3-point percentage (18.8 percent). The Zips also had a season-high in turnovers (16).

Waters said there are a couple of reasons why CSU's defense is much improved from a year ago.

"We are rebounding the ball better, and I think our guys know our defense now," he said. "You got to remember a year ago that we only returned one starter, Norris Cole, and everybody else was brand new to hitting the floor. So it took them awhile to adjust and understand how we play our defense. So I think its now starting to come (along)."

Waters gets 250: CSU's victory at UA was Waters' 250th career victory as a head coach. Waters has compiled a career record of 250-197 in 15 seasons as a head coach of Kent State, Rutgers and CSU.

Waters surprised: A reporter asked Waters if he was surprised that CSU is 6-0 to start the season.

"At this point I am," said Waters. "Now with D'Aundray Brown (in the line-up), I wouldn't be surprised at all."

Trey for three: During the preseason, Waters called junior guard Trevon Harmon one of the most improved players on the team.

Against the Zips, Harmon showcased his much improved shooting stroke, going 7-for-12 from the field and 4-for-7 from 3-point distance, finishing with 18 points.

As a freshman, Waters said Harmon needed to work on a hitch in his shot.

"It's coming along," said Harmon about if he has corrected the hitch in his shot. "We work on it everyday. Coaches tell me that I need to get a lot of arc on my shots. So I've been going to the gym taking extra shots."

Harmon's shooting percentage has been an improvement from last season. He's shooting a better percentage from the field (41.2 percent, this season; 34.8 percent, last season), and from 3-point distance (35.3 percent, this season; 29 percent, last season). However, his free throw percentage has dropped from a year ago (73.3 percent, this season; 84.7 percent, last season).


Tom Mieskoski


The Cleveland State men's basketball team held serve at home this weekend, winning three games in three days to capture the 2010 World Vision Classic championship.

CSU (3-0) defeated Bryant on Friday, Iona on Saturday, and rallied from a 16-point deficit in the second half to defeat Kent State, 69-66, on Sunday.

It's the first time since the 2004-05 season that CSU has started off 3-0.

"That was a heck of a game from both sides of the floor," said CSU head coach Gary Waters. "But, I have to give my kids credit they fought back and they never quit."

KSU (2-1) led 45-29 with 15:51 left  in the second half. That's when CSU switched to a 2-3 zone. The Vikings would outscore them 40-21 the rest of the game.

"The zone changed the whole complexity of the game," Waters said. "When we went to that zone it stymied them."

CSU's zone gave the Golden Flashes all kinds of problems as they committed 12 of their 16 turnovers in the second half, which CSU turned into 17 points.

"We lost our poise," said KSU's Justin Greene. "We didn't play Kent State basketball in the last 10 minutes of the game."

With the score tied at 61-61, Norris Cole's lay-up put the Vikings up for good with 50 seconds left. He would go 6-of-6 from the line in the final 27 seconds to extend it to, 69-64.

"Every team goes on a run. We understand that," said Cole. "It's about who goes on the second run, and this time we got on a run. They gave the first blow to us and we took it and then we threw one back and they couldn't overcome it."

Still, the Golden Flashes had one last run in them. A lay-up by Greene cut it to, 69-66, with 18 seconds left.

Junior guard Trevon Harmon had a chance to ice the game for CSU, but he missed both free throws, giving KSU one last chance to tie the game.

Greene had a good look for the game-tying 3-point attempt in the final seconds, but it fell short at the buzzer.

On the final possession, KSU head coach Geno Ford said they were looking to set-up a 3-point attempt for Carlton Guyton or Randal Holt, but a defensive blunder left Greene wide open.

"What we told Justin Greene is don't go to the rim cut towards the rim and then spin out to the weak side and they lost him," said Ford. "That shot didn't deserve to go in. We didn't play the right way (to win) in the second half."


Ryan Aroney

Norris_ColeThere’s optimism at the corner of E 22nd and Prospect Ave as the 2010-11 Vikings are deep and experienced. It tells a lot about how far Gary Waters and his staff have brought the Vikes that a .500 team that won ten games in the tough Horizon League was a disappointment last year, but that’s what two straight post-seasons and an upset in the NCAA tournament will do to expectations.

CSU returns five players with starting experience and nine letter-winners from last year’s 16-17 team. Gone from last year is the disappointing trio of Juco transfers that never lived up to expectations and a brutal schedule that featured five contests against high-major teams. Even with the underperforming transfers and the injuries of a year ago, Waters believes the team could have won 20-games for the third straight year simply by leaving a few power conference schools off the schedule.

That leads us to this year. The Vikings have replaced last year’s failed recruiting class with the most highly-rated group of freshman in the Waters era, while the schedule features only West Virginia and South Florida from the high-majors – instead offering the Vikings a chance to test themselves against a stable of solid mid-major programs.

Waters begins his fifth season as the head coach of Vikings this weekend as the CSU host the World Vision Classic.

The Vikings will play four games in four days to start the season for the first time in school history. The tournament field features Bryant, Iona, Kent State and Division II Urbana.

The season tips off Friday at 7:30 against Bryant. The showcase game against Kent is Sunday at 6 p.m., just in time for all you Browns fans to stagger your way from Cleveland Browns Stadium down to the Wolstein Center after the Browns take on the Jets.


Tom Mieskoski

Anthony_Wells_mugTrey_Harmon_mugJunior guard Trevon Harmon and sophomore point guard Anthony Wells are the latest Cleveland State Vikings to be sidelined with injuries.

Harmon, a 6-foot-1 junior guard, hyperextended his knee in Saturday's closed-door scrimmage versus Buffalo at Erie, Pa. He's questionable for this weekend's World Vision Classic Tournament at the Wolstein Center from Nov. 12-15.

"Trey got hurt in one of the extra quarters - sixth and final quarter against Buffalo," CSU men's basketball coach Gary Waters said after CSU's 68-39 exhibition victory over Baldwin-Wallace on Monday. "We don't think it's serious. We just got to give him some time (to rest). He won't practice until Friday."


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