Tag Archives: Kate Peterson Abiad

Cleveland State’s Slow, Steady Social Media Burn

In years past, the Cleveland State men’s basketball team has been up and down in terms of its social media presence. The most glaring example of this shortcoming was the disappearance of former coach Gary Waters from Twitter, which oddly coincided with a number of coaching departures in 2015.

In fact, the only thing that made that situation worse for Waters was the emergence of the Evil Gary Waters parody account in summer 2016. And like all good parody accounts, this one went to work quickly on all things Cleveland State. To the detriment of CSU, Evil Gary’s popularity only grew as the Vikings slogged through a 9-22 campaign.

So when Dennis Felton took over for the retiring Waters in late March, the bar was set pretty low on the social media front. But even with the low bar, you could tell there was going to be some pressure to get up to speed, especially with fellow Horizon League coaches getting a big jump ahead of him.

But an interesting thing started happening in the middle of the summer. Social media with CSU athletics, which has been marked by highs (like lacrosse coach Dylan Sheridan’s Twitter feed) and lows (the aforementioned Waters disappearance) started getting on the same page.

And while coaches like Sheridan and women’s basketball coach Kate Peterson Abiad have always been active, it has been men’s basketball that has always seemed to lag behind them.

Felton and his staff, it appears, are looking to change that in a big way. And Cleveland State is naturally on board.

The change has never been more striking than on Felton’s Twitter feed. Previously, many of his posts have included quotations from coaching greats or thoughts on the NBA, of which he spent three years as the Director of Player Personnel with the San Antonio Spurs.

Now, he’s leaned into CSU, lending support to not only men’s basketball, but all Vikings sports, as well as various Viking-centric ventures that have included contributing a jersey to Bryan Black’s 351 Jerseys for Hope campaign to raise awareness for epilepsy.

For athletics as a whole, CSU has made a huge push to get votes for Magnus during Mid-Major Madness’ Mascot Melee, which has pushed the Viking mascot to the Elite Eight, at last count.

Video has been playing a huge role in the summer social media blitz as well. For its part, Cleveland State has made Felton the star of a weekly video series, aptly titled Fridays with Felton.

And then there was the Drive-By Dunk Challenge.

With the sounds of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, who Felton is a huge fan of, he and three players, senior Anthony Wright, sophomore Evan Clayborne and freshman Tyree Appleby (a Twitter must-follow in his own right) chronicled their journey to Westlake to take part in the dunking on driveway hoops.

Felton has even been spotted on the live-video platform Periscope, setting up a feed during his autograph-signing session at a Lake County Captains game.

Since his hire, Felton has made multiple overtures that he wants to shake things up and perhaps surprise some people with his team’s performance on the court. While we won’t know about how Felton’s influence will translate in the win-loss column until the season starts, the recent social media efforts have indeed been a pleasant surprise.

At the very least, Felton, along with the rest Cleveland State athletics, have recognized that a change was sorely needed to find some footing in an already-crowded Cleveland sports landscape for its signature program.

E-mail Bob at bob.mcdonald@campuspressbox.com or follow him on Twitter @bobmcdonald.

Image via Cleveland State Athletics

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 bob.mcdonald@campuspressbox.com or follow him on Twitter at @bobmcdonald.

Image courtesy of csuvikings.com.

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.

Cleveland State Class of 2019: Find Your Sports Teams. All of Them.

Dear incoming freshmen of Cleveland State (and perhaps some of you upperclassmen that happened to come upon this by accident):

By now, you have undoubtedly heard about the deal made by CSU and Quicken Loans Arena that will include five Viking men’s basketball games that will be played at the Q. As a student, you should be understandably excited that you will be able to get into these contests for free.

Of course, if this is the first time you’re hearing that you can get into all Cleveland State games for free, then, surprise, I guess.

As I had written last year to your older classmates, I had hoped that one student would rise above the rest and take the reins as the superfan on campus. You would have recognized them for being at all the games, cheering louder than everyone else and, most likely, been that guy on social media taking more about CSU than any regular person would.

Unfortunately, it would appear that this didn’t happen. Also, apparently, the one superfan Cleveland State allegedly had just announced that he’s not renewing his season tickets for the 2015-2016 season. I doubt that the announcement that five games at the Q would change his mind.

But since my open letter, I’ve come to realize something. The term superfan has really been overused lately. Mind you, I’ve spent my summer watching the reality show Big Brother, where that word has been so misused that it has no meaning to me anymore.

Finding the next Viking superfan is probably aiming too high. Plus, it’s not terribly fair to put that kind of pressure on one person, especially at an institution like CSU that has been working on finding its identity for, well, more than 50 years.

Besides, for there to be a superfan, there should be regular fans, too.

This is where you come in. You may not know this, but I wrote a piece a few weeks back that left me openly wondering if Cleveland State, despite its student, staff and alumni population, could be so terribly muted as a fan base. And then, I subsequently went on Twitter and kept hammering away at the subject. Naturally, this was the social media equivalent of screaming at the trees, but somebody had to say it.

Mind you, since you hadn’t started your time at Cleveland State, that entire screed didn’t necessarily apply to you. However, now that you’re officially students, it’s time to prove that entire rant wrong.

However, don’t think that I am using this as an opportunity to wax poetic about the men’s basketball team. Truth be told, they’re probably not going to be very good this year. That tends to happen when you lose your entire starting lineup. I will get into that preview into mediocrity at another time.

Instead, you should really start turning your attention to the other 15 Division I sports that CSU currently sponsors. Understandably, you’re probably sitting there say how little you care about these other sports. If that’s the case, I should point out that you are, in fact, paying for these sports, whether you care about them or not.

Let’s start with soccer, both men and women. The women’s team just beat up Chicago State, 7-0. They scored seven goals! That’s pretty impressive, no matter who your opponent is. And the men are coached by Cleveland State alum Ali Kazemaini.

You may have to ask your parents about Kazemaini, since the Cleveland Force indoor soccer team was from a long time ago, likely before you were born. But the Force was still pretty popular around the area, and Kazemaini was right there.

Plus, he’s a pretty good soccer coach, leading the Vikings to a Horizon League title in 2012 and a bid to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1980.

You might have noticed all of the construction equipment where the tennis courts are. That’s where the new complex is going, which will be the permanent home for the men’s and women’s tennis teams. They’re led by Brian Etzkin, the winningest coach in school history.

The volleyball team, coached by Chuck Voss, has been to the NCAA Tournament twice in the last 10 years, and has been the top team in the Horizon League for years. The men’s and women’s golfers play in both the fall and the spring, and both of them have won conference titles, including the men who took the crown this past season.

Also, CSU has a cross country team. To be honest, I pretty much know nothing about them, but that shouldn’t stop you from looking into what they’re all about.

The men’s and women’s swim teams probably have the most active group of alumni I have seen. You will probably notice that from the changes that have been made around the Robert Busbey Natatorium. They’ve also had some fast swimmers in the pool over the years, and this season should be no different.

Last week, I wrote about women’s basketball coach Kate Peterson Abiad getting a contract extension. That tends to happen when you’ve made two NCAA tournament appearances and have done better than the men as a whole. Also, they, too, will be making an appearance at Quicken Loans Arena as part of a men’s and women’s doubleheader.

You likely read about the wrestling team last spring, when Cleveland State inexplicably announced they’d lose their funding. Well, that decision was reversed, and the squad that sent two wrestlers to the NCAA Tournament will be back this year, and they’ll probably have a chip on their shoulders. And by no means is this a bad thing.

Recently, former CSU fencer James Fazekas was announced as coach of the men’s and women’s team. That should help the teams, which have had a long history of NCAA tournament and still sport Cleveland State’s only national champion, Carlo Songini.

Finally, there’s the softball team, which is coming off a trip to Australia this summer. Typically, when a CSU team travels abroad in the off-season, it bodes well for the upcoming season. I’d expect the same to be true here.

Whether these teams will be successful this year or not is, of course, up for debate. But they, like you, Cleveland State Class of 2019, represent your school. And you’ve already put your money in to fund these sports, it would be silly not to at least take a peek to see what they can do.

Kate Peterson Abiad Sticking With Cleveland State Long-Term

While most of Northeast Ohio was spending the 2002 and 2003 wringing its collective hands over the slow and painful end to Cleveland State men’s basketball coach Rollie Massimino’s tenure, there was just as much tension down the Wolstein Center hallway. Women’s basketball coach Duffy Burns was embroiled in a losing season, as well as a war of words with former players that caught the attention of both the Cauldron student newspaper and Scene Magazine.

By the end of the season, both Massimino and Burns were out, leaving athletic director Lee Reed to figure out who was going to take over those programs. And in both instances, he opted for two Big Ten assistants: Mike Garland from Michigan State on the men’s side and Wisconsin’s Kate Peterson Abiad on the women’s side.

And while the men languished during the 2003-04 campaign (and for the entire Garland era, for that matter), Peterson Abiad took Burns’ former players and made it to the Horizon League championship game.

Since then, after a bumpy couple of years, Peterson Abiad led the women to two NCAA Tournament bids in 2008 and 2010, a WNIT appearance this past season and a Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI) nod in 2011.

Also, during her time at the helm, Peterson Abiad became the all-time winningest coach in Cleveland State history, eclipsing Alice Khol’s mark of 115 near the end of the 2011-12 season.

With a year left of her current contract, CSU decided that it would be a good idea to keep the winningest women’s basketball coach in school history around, and last week, they did just that. Peterson Abiad will stay on the Viking sidelines until at least the end of the 2020-21 season.

The vote of confidence will bolster the women this upcoming season, who will be looking to find a new set of top scorers with the graduation of Imani Gordon, Kiersten Green and Cori Coleman, who recently signed a deal to play professionally in Finland. Cleveland State will also have new faces on the sidelines, including former Butler coach and new assistant Beth Couture, who replaced long-time associate head coach Bernard Scott after he took the head coaching position at Detroit.

Corba, Balcar Take the National and International Stage

CSU found itself briefly represented on both the national and international stage this past week, and no, I’m not talking about the former Viking women’s tennis player who found herself on Busted Coverage. Wrestler Nick Corba taking part in the World Junior Championships in Bahia, Brazil and former golfer Michael Balcar making his second appearance at the U.S. Amateur Championships.

For Corba, wrestling in the 84kg Greco-Roman weight class for the U.S. team, his tournament ended rather abruptly in the qualification rounds. The junior from Beavercreek was on the wrong end of a 9-0 technical fall at the hands of Anton Sakhno of Belarus.

Balcar, who looked to improve upon his showing from last year and qualify for match play, came up short. He shot six over par over the 36-hole stroke play round, shooting a 72 on the first round and a 74 in the second round, missing the cut for the round of 64.

Next up for Corba, of course, will be joining his Cleveland State wrestling teammates for the upcoming season, which, according to the schedule that will be released last week, will include a home match against defending national champions Ohio State.

Also, the wrestlers are putting on party on Saturday, August 29th at the Nautica Café to celebrate the decision by CSU to continue funding the program. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by contacting wrestling coach Ben Stehura by e-mail at b.stehura@csuohio.edu.

Dylan Sheridan’s Twitter Game is Strong

As a permanent resident of Twitter, I have always lamented that many of the Cleveland State coaches (and President Ronald Berkman, for that matter) aren’t terribly popular on the social media site. In fact, with the exception of the main Athletics account, no Viking coach or sport Twitter account has more than 1,500 followers, though wrestling is inching closer to that mark.

Of course, that was before the arrival of lacrosse coach Dylan Sheridan.

Sheridan, with nearly 1,700 followers to his credit, has been tearing it up on Twitter since being announced as the program’s inaugural coach, continuing to endear himself to the lacrosse community and, for those who have been paying attention, Northeast Ohio.

In reality, sometimes keeping with what Sheridan is tweeting is kind of hard to do, especially when he’s talking about recruits. Basically, you’ll spend half the time Googling area codes that you don’t know.

But there’s a certain appeal to that Easter egg hunt. It also helps that many of his recruits have announced their commitments on Twitter, including Allatoona, Georgia’s Danny Tesler, Las Vegas-area recruit Nick Wendel, Ty Collins of Wheaton Academy in Chicagoland and Jack Feeney from Downingtown, Pennsylvania, which is outside of Philadelphia.

Sure, there have been plenty of others who have committed to the new program, but like I said, it’s been pretty hard to keep up. That said, Sheridan hasn’t wasted any time selling prospects on Cleveland State, and hasn’t been afraid to get online and tell us about it. And by no means is this a bad thing.

What Cleveland State Can Be Thankful For

Thanksgiving has arrived, and for the people at Cleveland State, there’s plenty for them to be thankful for.

John Parry can be thankful for – People who will give money. Thanks to the $1.4 million donation from long-time university partner Medical Mutual to renovate the tennis facilities, Parry basically has concrete reason to stay as athletic director for the remainder of his contract. Now, about those video scoreboards…

Gary Waters can be thankful for – Having Trey Lewis, who has been on a scoring tear as of late. However, Waters can’t possibly be happy with the way things have gone to this point. Losing his top scorer in Bryn Forbes and suspending Charlie Lee have pretty much left fans who had lofty expectation wondering if this year’s team is even going to finish .500.

Cleveland State fans can be thankful for – The fact that the Vikings are still a defensive monster. That was really the only reason why CSU was in the Louisville game until the very end until the Cardinals pulled away to win, 45-33. Considering Louisville pasted Savannah State by 63 points in the previous game, holding the Cardinals to just 45 is an accomplishment indeed.

Kate Peterson Abiad can be thankful for – Having a ton of talent back on the women’s basketball team this year. This has allowed her squad to go toe-to-toe with some tough competition on the road, including at Minnesota, where the Vikings had a halftime lead before eventually falling short, and at Florida Atlantic, where they dominated the Owls in the win.

Anton Grady can be thankful for – Being completely healthy again. That said, he’d probably be more thankful if referees would stop calling him for fouls early, which has led to him sitting for long stretches during the Iona, Savannah State and Louisville losses.

Lee can be thankful for – The idea his teammates needing him during his six-game suspension.  The loss at Iona and the shocker at Savannah State makes everyone wonder if the situation would have been different if Lee had been in the lineup.

Terrelle Hales can be thankful for – Lee’s suspension. Prior to the season, Waters had contemplated making Hales red-shirt this season. But, with Lee being suspended, Waters didn’t want to end up in the same situation he was in during Marlin Mason’s freshman year. And the decision to play Hales has already paid off, with seven rebounds in extended minutes against Jacksonville State.

Kaza Keane can be thankful for – The NCAA, who saw its way to give Keane a hardship waiver that allows him to play this season. And, thanks to Lee’s suspension, he’s become a starter and been a big part of the team on the floor. Plus, making SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays is a nice thing to see, too.

The Wolstein Center can be thankful for – The Viking Village. The new program to get students to come to Cleveland State sporting events has already netted results with the appearance of a section that is actually populated students, which has been a rarity in years past.

Cleveland State can be thankful for – MTAF: Cleveland, the Cleveland Leader, Waiting for Next Year and Tom Mieskoski. Since the Plain Dealer and the Northeast Ohio Media Group has clearly decided CSU isn’t a coverage priority, fans have had to turn to other media sources, hence the four mentioned places.

Cleveland State Women’s Basketball Preview – Battle for the Top Spot

Unlike their counterparts on the men’s side, very little has really been said about the Cleveland State women’s basketball team. This is in spite of the fact that the women have made more appearances (2008 and 2010) than the men (2009) in recent years.

And sure, last season’s campaign didn’t end very well, finishing at 14-15 and a first-round knockout at the hands of Illinois-Chicago.

That’s not to say, though, that the Vikings, led by head coach Kate Peterson Abiad, didn’t spend the off-season sitting around wondering how they could garner more attention.

Instead, Cleveland State spent its summer traveling to Italy on its first-ever overseas tour, and it went far beyond the usual sightseeing. In the three games they played in Europe, the Vikings annihilated their competition, averaging nearly 86 points per game. The final game of the tour was an 89-42 drubbing of Eurobasket Spain.

Aside from that, as the men can attest, these trips tend to boost a team’s competitive edge during the regular season. So, if anything is taken away from the Italian trip for the women, aside from the breath-taking images, it is that the Vikings will be much improved from last season.

It also helps that their three leading scorers and four starters will be back.

Leading the way for Cleveland State will be senior Imani Gordon. The 5-10 forward from Akron was a major force in the frontcourt last season, with a team-best 16.6 points per game, as well as 9.3 rebounds per game, which put her 53rd in the entire country. Gordon’s performance netted her First Team All-Horizon League honors, and she will undoubtedly be favored to repeat that feat.

Fellow senior Cori Coleman will also look to make a major contribution as she did last season. Last season saw the 5-8 guard from Springfield Gardens, New York break the single-season school record for three-pointers with 67, and she became the latest Viking to score 1,000 points in her career. With one more season left, Coleman will certainly move up both the points and three-pointer charts.

Gordon and Coleman will be joined by fellow top scorer and senior Kiersten Green. The 5-5 guard from Lancaster, Pennsylvania knocked down 14.5 points a game and was Cleveland State’s primary distributor, dishing out 3.4 assists per game.

Since joining the starting rotation in her sophomore year, guard Adesuwa Aideyman joined Green as one of the team’s main point guards. At the same time, she also had a way around the basket, which she showed off during the tour of Italy, leading all players with 15.7 a game over the three contests.

With the departure of Haley Schmitt due to graduation, her starting role in the frontcourt will be taken over by sophomore Olivia Voskuhl. Having already started for Schmitt twice last season, Voskuhl will see increase minutes and, most likely, her 2.7 boards a game average a year ago.

Kayla Livingston, who made a splash last season coming off the bench, will likely see the role that garnered her All-Newcomer honors in the Horizon League further expand. Her versatility was on display during the Italian tour as well, notching seven assists and nine rebounds in the romp of Eurobasket Spain.

Cleveland State will bring in five new faces to the program this season, led by Drake transfer Alexis Eckles. After sitting out a year due to transfer rules, Eckles, who appeared in 20 games for the Bulldogs, appears eager to get back on the floor for the Vikings, as evidenced by eight boards a game she averaged during the three contests in Italy.

Ashanti Abashaw from Cleveland Heights will also be looking to make her mark at Cleveland State. The two-time Lake Erie League Player of the Year got off to a good start in Europe, leading the Vikings with 16 points in the 83-46 win against A.S. Vento.

The non-conference schedule will see Cleveland State taking on a number of schools that made the post-season last year, including a road game at Minnesota, as well as home games against East Carolina and Belmont, the latter of which will be played at Woodling Gym on December 16th. The Vikings will also make a trip south to play Florida International and Florida Atlantic, a team that bested Cleveland State, 81-78 last season.

Other return games from last year will include visits to Eastern Michigan, which beat the Vikings, 84-70, Morehead State and Ohio University, two schools that Cleveland State beat at the Wolstein Center last year.

The Bobcats and Eagles make up two of the four Mid-American Conference opponents the Vikings will go up against. Cleveland State opens the season up on November 14th at home against Toledo, and has a December 7th tilt at the Wolstein Center against Kent State.

Rounding out the home schedule will be a November 29th contest against local Non-Division I school Notre Dame College, and Niagara comes to faces the Vikings for an mid-morning game on December 18th.

As far as the Horizon League is concerned. Cleveland State will likely finish third. The top two teams in the conference will be the same top two teams from last season, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Wright State.

In his third season back with the Phoenix after a brief stint with Michigan, head coach Kevin Borseth  will be bringing back most of a squad that finished 22-10 last year and was regular season champions with a 13-3 conference record. They are once again poised to take the top spot, let by four returning starters, including sisters Kaili and Megan Lukan, Tesha Buck and Mehryn Kraker.

Right on Green Bay’s heels, much as they had been last season, will be the Raiders, who bested the Phoenix in the Horizon League Tournament to grab the bid to the NCAA. Wright State remains loaded with seniors, including defending Player of the Year Kim Demmings.

Behind the Vikings will probably  be Youngstown State, which finished third in the Horizon League last year, but will be considerably younger coming into this campaign. Second-year head coach John Barnes will have to rely on leadership from seniors Heidi Schlegel and Latisha Walker, as well as sophomore Jenna Hirsch.

UIC will be seeking to capitalize on its breakout season, which ended with a win in the Women’s Basketball Invitational. However, losing three starters will hurt, and in spite of bringing back Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year Ruvanna Campbell, the Flames are looking at a fifth place finish.

Oakland made its presence known in its inaugural season in the conference, finishing a game behind Cleveland State for fifth place, and put a scare in the Penguins during the Horizon League Tournament. But the Golden Grizzlies lost three starters, including top scorer Bethany Watterworth, and with a much younger squad, will be slotted sixth this year.

Rounding out the conference will be Milwaukee, Detroit and Valparaiso, who finished in the bottom three spots last season and, because of the firepower at the top of the league, will likely end up in the same places (seventh, eighth and ninth) this season as well.

The Season Ticket Holders Gather. What Will They Ask?

If it’s the end of July, it’s right about time for season ticket holders for Cleveland State men’s and women’s basketball games to gather at the Wolstein Center. The good news is that that the July 31st event is being advertised as an ice cream social, and who doesn’t like ice cream?

Well, I’m sure there are some lactose-intolerant Viking fans out there, but you’d think there would realistically be some milk-free alternatives available to them.

The main event, of course, is hearing from men’s coach Gary Waters and women’s coach Kate Peterson Abiad, as well as meeting players from both squads. Undoubtedly, the theme will be to drum up excitement for their upcoming seasons, not to mention a send-off for the women’s team, who will be gearing up for their first-ever trip overseas when they tour Italy for 10 days next month.

While the vast majority of those in attendance will be jazzed just to get the ball rolling on renewing their season tickets, there will be plenty of questions that may or may not be asked by the inquiring minds wing of the fan base.

If you’ve roamed around social media or the online message boards for any span of time since both teams last played a game, you’ll know that there’s actually a bit of concern swirling around, particularly on the men’s side.

So, with that said, here are some key things that Waters, Peterson Abiad and athletic director John Parry should brace themselves to be asked about.

What really happened with Bryn Forbes?

Yes, there are plenty of reports that Forbes, who transferred to Michigan State, left CSU as a result of his sister’s health issues. It is also well-documented that he has, in fact, applied for a hardship waiver to allow him to play this season, rather than wait the mandatory year as a transfer.

However, while this waiver is pending, Waters should be prepared to hear from at least one or two conspiracy theory-driven fans who aren’t convinced this is the case.  Tread lightly, though, because whether the waiver is granted or not, the medical issues are legitimate, so you might want to skip this interrogation. Otherwise, you’ll look kind of crazy, jerky or a combination of both.

So, about that scoreboard…

These questions will most likely be pointed towards Parry, who began his tenure as athletic director speaking about making upgrades to the Wolstein Center, with a new scoreboard being the centerpiece. As it stands, the scoreboards are limited to the ones on one side of the arena, with the other two being blocked by the curtain.

The ugliness of the curtain aside, having a new scoreboard about the court, as many other venues have, would make a ton of sense. However, it seems like any progress towards making the dream a reality has died a horrible death. That won’t stop a few fans, though, from asking about it.

What’s with the schedule?

This is one question that will be posed from the outset. Since the last high-major team, South Florida, made its way to the Wolstein Center, the home schedule for the Cleveland State men has really been an underwhelming exercise, at best.

Exacerbating this is the recent talk of a possible home game against Ohio State, which was dashed recently. Parry and Waters and certainly expect to field questions about what happened with that. Was it because the Buckeyes will only play at Quicken Loans Arena, or was it something else?

Ohio State aside, the current schedule as we know it isn’t really inspiring much excitement, either. Take away the road game against Louisville and the Akron game held at Youngstown State, and it looks pretty weak.

The home stands, which reportedly include Eastern and Western Illinois, Toledo and San Francisco, isn’t exactly going to spur ticket sales. Fans can also expect the inevitable non-Division 1 match-ups.

There is a fine line between value and cheap, and it’s been a long-standing gripe of season ticket holders that loading up the home schedule with the La Roches and West Virginia Techs of the world throws buying packages on the cheap side of the divide.

So, Coach Peterson Abiad, um, what’s up?

Despite having led Cleveland State to more appearances in the NCAA Tournament (two) than her counterpart on the men’s side, Peterson Abiad has pretty much flew under the radar on campus, much like other sports teams not men’s basketball has. Somebody should ask her about anything related to women’s basketball. Anything.

At the very least, season ticket holders should offer well wishes as the Peterson Abiad’s squad heads off to Italy for its first-ever trip overseas. Given that the men have had success after coming off European summer tours in recent years, it should net some results for the women down the road.

Planning to do something new this year?

Another lament of some season ticket holders is the overall fan experience, which hasn’t really changed that much in about a decade. The curtain’s still up, the bouncy houses still come around for those Family Fun events, and Cleveland State is still doing to same activities during timeouts. Throwing something new in would, in all likelihood, be a welcome change.

One noteworthy item that was brought to my attention by a fan recently was the fact that the arena entrance on the corner of East 18th and Carnegie Avenue is closed during games. Conventional wisdom would tell you that because the curtain is up, there’s no need to have that entrance opened. However, the entrance to East 18th and Prospect Avenue is always open. It does make a season ticket holder whose seats are at the south end of the Wolstein Center wonder.

You don’t know what’s going on with the Wolstein Center, do you?

It’s pretty obvious that if anyone asks Waters, Parry or anyone else from Athletics about this, they’ll all probably shrug their shoulders. While this has been a long-standing issue that reaches the upper echelons of the CSU hierarchy, this won’t stop somebody from asking.

As it’s been the case for many years, there are a plethora of questions surrounding Viking hoops. And even if you ask any of the above questions, season ticket holders, the answers may not be what you want to hear.