Tag Archives: Ashanti Abshaw

Close Your Eyes, Cleveland State Fans. It Will All Be Over Soon.

Conference tournament time has arrived for the schools in the Horizon League. This year is the start of a five-year journey to Detroit, where teams will spend Saturday through Tuesday duking it out for the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. All eyes are pointing to top-seeded Valparaiso to win it all, though second seed Oakland and third seed Wright State may have something to say about it.

For Cleveland State, however, no such hope is really expected. In fact, as the ninth seed, the Vikings will take on Green Bay, who swept them in the regular season. The last matchup at the Resch Center was particularly excruciating, blowing a halftime lead and, as CSU has for most of the season, losing by double digits.

With everything that has gone on in this disaster of a year for the Vikings, you couldn’t blame any of them for phoning in this first round game on Saturday and calling it a season.

That’s not really a good idea either, given the mood head coach Gary Waters has been in for the duration of the Horizon League schedule. Waters also hasn’t been shy about his desire to beef up his roster with, well, basically everything. So if you’re a CSU player that isn’t producing, do you really want to get on his bad side?

What is clear, though, is that freshman Rob Edwards isn’t going anywhere. He was named to the conference’s All-Freshman team earlier in the week. Also, like several of his teammates from the Detroit area, he’s likely looking at the conference tournament as a homecoming of sorts.

Regardless of how Cleveland State performs against the Phoenix and beyond, should they pull an upset, it would appear that most fans (and media, for that matter) have already packed it in and called it a year.

It’s impressive, really, that in a town that will complain about virtually anything sports-related, the downward spiral of the Vikings this season has barely registered at all. In fact, apathy is so high that cleveland.com, ever mindful of its click rates, can barely justify posting wire reports on Cleveland State games, let alone send a live person.

So, when you see a story like the one Branson Wright wrote about Bryn Forbes, the Michigan State superstar who transferred out of CSU in 2014, you can’t really be all that surprised.

Even Waters hasn’t been all that excited about how things have gone, calling the games at Quicken Loans Arena little more than glorified road games. On his radio show Monday, he and host Al Pawlowski lamented about the sad state of Joe Louis Arena, where the Horizon League Tournament will take place for the first two years before moving into the as-yet-named new facility.

Apathy, like enthusiasm, is infectious and Cleveland State has always been highly susceptible to this since its inception. But this seems like a new low, which, given the roller coaster history of the men’s basketball program, is a sight to behold.

Women’s Basketball Gets a (Baby) Bump

The CSU women’s basketball team has been struggling to build any kind of momentum during first part of the Horizon League schedule. Even when it comes through with an overtime win, like it did against Oakland, an equally frustrating overtime loss to Milwaukee was around the corner. In spite of the outstanding play of Ashanti Abshaw, Khalya Livingston and Olivia Voskuhl, it hasn’t translated into wins for the Vikings.

Then head coach Kate Peterson Abiad brought her second daughter, Remi Hope, into the world on February 18th. That seems to have provided some sort of spark for Cleveland State.

With associate head coach Beth Couture taking the reins at Youngstown State, the Vikings completed the season sweep of their cross-state rivals in a 53-43 win. Voskuhl led all scorers with 16 points, junior Brooke Smith added 14 and Abshaw, though limited to seven points, pulled down a game-high 14 boards.

The season took an even stranger turn when Mother Nature intervened, as a winter storm forced the re-scheduling of both the UIC and Valparaiso games. In the re-slated match against the Flames, though, Cleveland State prevailed, 72-69, paced by Abshaw’s 26 points and 10 rebounds.

On Sunday, the Vikings marked the first time they have won three straight games this season, besting the Crusaders, 72-65. Abshaw again led the way with another double-double, finishing with 26 points and 13 boards.

“We are thrilled to have another win at the end of the season, and to put together a three-game win streak like this is a big thing for us,” Peterson Abiad said after the game. “It’s a confidence builder and it’s helping us to believe in the process. For a while it didn’t seem like we were getting anywhere, but now it looks like it has made a difference. I am excited to see how they are growing, and with two games left in the regular season we want to finish strong and feel good about where we are heading into the tournament.”

Cleveland State tried extending the baby mojo for a fourth game, but ran headlong into Wright State, one of the best teams in the conference. An 81-64 loss was the end result, with the Raiders holding Abshaw to 11 points.

The Vikings have one game left in the regular season at Northern Kentucky before heading to Green Bay for the Horizon League Tournament.

Email Bob at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @bobmcdonald.

Image courtesy of csuvikings.com.

Amid Cloudy Present, Cleveland State Men's Basketball Looks to the Future

Even by Cleveland State men’s basketball coach Gary Waters’ own assessment, the selection of the Vikings to finish seventh in the Horizon League seemed exceedingly high. At the heart of the matter, as it has been throughout the non-conference slate, has been the offense.

The overriding theme Waters has conveyed, is the ongoing development of his young squad. With a schedule that would have provided a more veteran team with opportunities for quality wins and bolster post-season aspiration, the youth movement has been prone to a trial by fire.

As a consequence, there have been plenty of opportunities to get burned.

Such was the case in Cleveland State’s season opener at Quicken Loans Arena against Kent State. There were certainly flashes of what the future will hold for the Vikings during most of the first half. Leading the charge was Rob Edwards, who has ascended to a starting spot faster than any freshman in the Waters era.

And then there was Andre Yates. The junior guard had one of his best games in the young season against the Golden Flashes, joining Edwards to lead the team with 14 points. This included four three-pointers, which has been a sore spot early on for Cleveland State.

But as there were high points for the Vikings, the low points came at the part of the game you never want to have happen: the end. And the mistakes on offense that tend to happen with an inexperienced group, coupled with absolutely no answer for Kent State big man Kaliq Spicer, proved to be Cleveland State’s undoing, losing the game, 66-62.

At 2-6, Vikings fans can only really look forward to the ongoing development of the freshman. In addition to Edwards, who is making a real case for Horizon League Freshman of the Year, there’s Jibri Blout, who scored nine points against the Flashes and at times seemed to be about to get in the paint with ease.

Two other freshmen, Jeron Rogers and walk-on Daniel Levitt, will likely be relied on much more in the part of the court that’s hurt Cleveland State the most: the three-point line. The Vikings remain at the bottom of the NCAA in that category, and, Vinny Zollo, who was looked upon to provide some firepower beyond the arc, was 0-5 against Kent State and has been much more effective in the paint than the perimeter.

Assists have also been a real issue early on, as Yates, Edwards and Kenny Carpenter have struggled at the point. However, there appears to be some relief coming in the form of Myles Hamilton. The Kennesaw State transfer, who sat out the first seven contests due to a suspension and injuries, played 18 minutes against the Flashes and notched three assists. In fact, the loss to Kent State saw the Vikings post the most assists all season at 17, with four apiece coming, surprisingly enough, from Zollo and fellow forward Demonte Flannigan.

So, while the miscues and missed opportunities make the non-conference schedule seem like one big, painful learning experience, the early lesson may translate into some real surprises when the Vikings start Horizon League play.

The Present (And Future) of Cleveland State Women’s Basketball Is Bright

With all of the players that Cleveland State women’s basketball coach Kate Peterson Abiad had sitting out from last season due to injuries, it was only a matter of time before they would take their experience and translate that into wins.

It hasn’t come easily, though. Two of the Vikings’ first four losses were squeakers, including a last-second defeat in the home opener against Bucknell and an overtime loss on the road at Niagara.

As last Saturday’s 69-48 romp over Bowling Green at Quicken Loans Arena may indicate, the rebuilding for Cleveland State may, in fact, nearly be complete.

Leading the team against the Falcons was sophomore Kayla Livingston, who tied her season high with 21 points. Her 14 points per game and 45.7 percent three-point shooting since returning from an injury that wiped out here 2014-15 campaign has providing the Vikings with an offensive spark and allowed her to return to the form that put her on the Horizon League All-Newcomer team in 2013-14.

Making her own bid to be this season’s top freshman and returning from her own injury last season, forward Ashanti Abshaw has started this year leading the team with 14.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Her 16 points and eight boards against Bowling Green, coupled with her double-double in CSU’s 60-49 win against Kent State, was good enough for her to be named the Horizon League Freshman of the Week.

Coming off the bench, junior guard Adesuwa Aideyman has made her minutes count. She has scored 17 points in three straight contests, putting those numbers up in 20 minutes against the Falcons.

While Wright State and Wisconsin-Green Bay remain the overwhelming favorites at the top of the Horizon League standings, CSU may be on better footing than their sixth-place conference finish prediction would suggest.

Cleveland State Is Back on Television (If You Have Time Warner Cable)

After Cleveland State finished last season with games televised on Sportstime Ohio and the Horizon League TV schedule limited the Vikings to ESPN3, it had some wondering if the only way fans could see them play was to come to the arena or have an Internet connection.

The good news is that CSU will, in fact be back on the airwaves. Starting with Saturday’s contest against Ohio at the Q, the Viking men will play on television seven times this season, and the women will appear three times.

The bad news, though, is that if you don’t have Time Warner Cable, you still need your Internet connection. All of these contests, which will feature the announce team of Al Pawlowski and former Cleveland State standout Pat Vuyancih, will only be aired on TWC Sports Net.

Of course, when you’re staring at the prospect of having no TV games at all, you can sort of view this as progress.

2015-16 Cleveland State Women’s Basketball Preview: Picking up the Pieces

If you discount the fact that the Horizon League has been dominated by Wisconsin-Green Bay and Wright State for the past two years, the Cleveland State women’s basketball team had a pretty season in 2014-15.

The Vikings finished the season in third place in the conference and received a bid to the WNIT, where the lost in the first round to Michigan. The 19-13 mark is even more impressive, considering that four players were lost for the entire season due to injuries.

Of course, when you have three seniors who have scored more than 1,000 points as the Vikings had, the losses weren’t felt as badly.

As a result of overcoming the injuries and leading Cleveland State to yet another post-season bid, Kate Peterson Abiad was rewarded with a contract extension that will keep her on the Viking sidelines until at least the end of 2021.

But the three seniors, Cori Coleman, Imani Gordon and Kiersten Green, have graduated. And three members of Peterson Abiad’s staff have left, including Bernard Scott, who has taken the helm at Horizon League for Detroit.

To replace Scott, Cleveland State brings in somebody already familiar with the ins and outs of the conference in Beth Couture. The longtime head coach of Butler, where she spent 12 seasons, and Presbyterian had spent the prior season in Division II Converse College. Also joining the staff is Michael Scruggs, who served as an interim assistant coach at LSU last year, as well as former CSU player Jessica Roque.

Replacing the three seniors, on the other hand, will not be as easy, especially when the injury bug has come to bite the Vikings once again. Junior Alexis Eckles, the team’s leading rebounder last season, suffered an ACL injury and may not make it back until tournament time.

That will leave the rebounding duties up front will be the lone senior on this season’s squad, Allison Mitchell, who was the first player off the bench for most of last year. Joining her in the mix will be a pair of players that are coming off of injuries, sophomore Olivia Voskuhl and freshman Ashanti Abshaw.

In the backcourt, a pair of Vikings with starts under their belt will come in to fill the scoring void. Sophomore Brooke Smith, who started 26 games last season, will look to improve upon last year’s tally of 7.2 points per game. And Junior Adesuwa Aideyman will be making up for lost time after an injury during the Eastern Michigan game put her out of commission for the remainder of the year.

A member of the Horizon League All-Newcomer team in her freshman year, Khalya Livingston was poised to have a break-out sophomore campaign. However, an injury in the pre-season wiped out any chance of that. She is back this year, though, and will be looked upon to make the type of meaningful contribution that won her accolades as a freshman.

Rounding out returning Vikings will be Junior guard Chrishna Butler and a trio of sophomores: Center Kayla Patterson and forwards Allyssa Copley and Shadae Bosley.

Peterson Abiad also signed four during the recruiting period, with three joining the team in November. They include local product Sierra Davidson of Avon, Pittsburgh’s Nicolette Newman and Emily Stoller, who comes to Cleveland by way of Fairmont, West Virginia. In the spring, Milwaukee combo guard Marina Bautista also came on board.

Unlike the men, who will spend all but one day in November on the road, the women will play its first four contests within the confines of the Wolstein Center. Two of those contests will be exhibitions against non-Division I foes, Lake Erie College and Roberts Wesleyan. The Vikings will then kick things off with games against Bucknell on November 13th and Evansville on November 18th.

When CSU returns home from three games on the road versus Belmont, Niagara and Kent State, they will host the opening of the men’s and women’s doubleheader on December 5th at Quicken Loans Arena. There, the Vikings will tip off against Bowling Green.

Taking the traditional week off for finals, Cleveland State returns to action that Saturday when they travel to Toledo to play the Rockets. Then, the Vikings will return home to the Wolstein Center for a tilt with Florida International. Finally, they take a trip to New Orleans to play in the pre-Christmas Tulane Invitational before opening the Horizon League slate in January.