Men’s basketball looking to capitalize on tournament success

By Briana Oldham

The men’s basketball season is just around the corner.

The 2017-2018 season was full of ups and downs. The team finished the 35-game rollercoaster 12-23, but what followed in the postseason led to the excitement felt by students, faculty, staff and alumni alike, even now.

The Vikings opened last season on the road in Akron on Nov. 11, 2017. Though they looked sharp the week prior in an exhibition game against Cedarville at home, the men’s team lost by 10.

With only a few days between games, the next win would come at home against Coppin State. For the first two months of play, every game was an opponent out of conference. During this time, the Vikings went 3-10, but the season was still very young, and the losses, at times, weren’t by much.

With the opener just weeks away, fans are anticipating a great start to the 2018-2019 season.

The Vikings took part in the opportunity of a lifetime with a trip to Italy this summer. It was there that the team competed against schools in Italy and was victorious in each game played. They got to experience the sights and sounds of Italy, all while participating in the game the players love.

Another summer highlight was the addition of European phenom Aleksa Popovic. At 6-foot-9, he was one of the top players in Serbia, playing for one of the elite clubs in Europe, Partizan U-19. The Vikings are eager to welcome him, as well as six returning players and eight new hopefuls, including transfer student, Rasheem Dunn.

As the calendar turned to 2018, it was the same story as the last; the Vikings were playing well, but were matched with fierce competition.

February was when the Vikings embarked on the final stretch of games. The month started with a win over Wright State, a top two team in the Horizon League. The Vikings went on to win four more games the remainder of the month and were headed to the Horizon League Tournament and eventually, the title game.

This marked the Vikings’ first appearance in the title game since the 2008-2009 season. After defeating Youngstown State, Northern Kentucky and Oakland University in the Horizon League Tournament, Cleveland State had the collegiate sports world watching.

Cleveland State students showed up in Detroit, Michigan during the first week of March to cheer on the Vikings.

The support helped create momentum that propelled Cleveland State to win three games in the tournament. However, in a rematch with Wright State in the championship game, the Vikings lost the fourth and final game, 74-57.

Their season opener will be at Davidson College on Tuesday, Nov. 6, in the first meeting ever between the two teams. To add to the list of firsts is a matchup with South Carolina State less than two weeks later, followed by four home games, then the Buckeye Basketball Classic.

Non-conference play will continue during the month of December as the Vikings square off against conference foes from last year. Cleveland State’s schedule has some new teams as well as some the Vikings haven’t faced off against in at least a decade.

Students are already showing the home team some support.

“I am super excited to go CSU basketball games this year,” transfer student Emily Drotar said. “I am ready to cheer loud and proud.”