Tag Archives: Kaza Keane

Cleveland State’s Bumpy Non-Conference Ride

Originally, I planned to take this week off to hang out with family out of town. But it just seems like the Cleveland State men’s basketball team doesn’t want anyone to feel at ease these days.

You would have thought the Vikings had turned a much-needed corner on Sunday. While once again the rest of Northeast Ohio watched the Browns quarterback carousel move once again, CSU was actually able to get a pretty good win at the Wolstein Center against San Francisco.

But, of course, when anyone had an air of confidence about Cleveland State, the team turns around and does something that defies explanation.

The latest act of inexplicable frustration took place during the Tuesday matinee against Eastern Illinois. It seemed as if the Vikings had this game well in hand over the Panthers. But once again, Cleveland State proved that no lead or grasp on sanity is safe, and fell, 67-65.

So, instead of finally getting two wins in a row against Division I opponents and actually being above .500, the Vikings are 6-7. And they have Virginia Commonwealth to look forward to.

Head coach Gary Waters can’t seem to get a grasp on what the problem is, especially the now-trademark scoring droughts.

“That has been us all year,” Waters said about the scoring funks. “When I look at [the stat sheet], I see missed jumpers, turnovers and we didn’t execute down the stretch.”

The inconsistency has really taken its toll on everyone, especially any casual fan that might have the slightest bit of curiosity about what’s going on at the Wolstein Center. In a town that only seems to pay attention to winners, the Browns and LeBron James, wading through mediocrity against teams nobody has any idea who are isn’t cutting it.

Even the hardest of the diehards have found it hard to stick with the Vikings, especially given the other sporting distractions around town.

A Tale of Two Gradys

The overtime win against USF was supposed to mark a turning-point game for Anton Grady. Being plagued with foul trouble and spotty play in the paint, Grady finally seemed to emerge as the inside scoring option Cleveland State desperately needs. He finished with 17 points, with 13 coming in the second half and OT. He also grabbed seven rebounds and stole the ball three times in a season-high 42 minutes, all without a hint of foul trouble.

Against Eastern Illinois, Grady seemed to have his way for most of the first half, and scored 14 points, as well as grabbing seven boards and three steals.

But as it has been for much of the non-conference schedule, Grady’s old nemesis, foul trouble, reared its ugly head. And with four fouls at the end of the game, Grady was forced to sit out during key defensive stretches.

Speaking Of Which…

Head coach Gary Waters went with Aaron Scales to face off against EIU’s Chris Oliver while Grady was on the bench. The idea, as many believed, was that Scales, who had fouls to give, would force Oliver to get his points at the free throw line, where he has struggled.

Apparently the only person who didn’t think this was a good idea was Scales, who defended Oliver straight-up. The result was four points by Oliver and an incensed Waters on the bench.

Remember when fans hoped that the year Scales spend as a red-shirt would help him develop into a more prominent role in the Cleveland State frontcourt? Neither do I.

A Three-Point Shot at the End of the Game? What Could Go Wrong There?

In the closing seconds of the CSU-Eastern Illinois game, the Vikings were able to get the ball back being only down two. On the previous play on the offensive side, Trey Lewis, in a rare lapse, coughed up the ball that thankfully led to a Panther miss on the front end of a one-and-one free throw try.

But as Charlie Lee drove to the baseline, he kicked the ball out to Andre Yates in the corner for a three-point try, and it went about as you’d expect for a team that Waters himself said wasn’t as good from beyond the arc as last season. Yates’ triple try hit long, sealing the game for the Panthers.

Understandably, with an opportunity to try and win the game without having to go into overtime, which Cleveland State had to do against San Francisco, you take it. But while Yates is clearly the defensive leader of this team, he’s not the most effective from the three-point line at 31.8 percent.

Obviously, the best plan would have been for either Lee or Lewis to be the shooter in that situation. Of course, an even better plan would have been to not be faced with that type of situation in the first place.

Keane’s New Role as Sixth Man

At the start of the season, with Lee suspended, Waters turned to new transfer Kaza Keane to fill the starting role, which meant more adjusting that Waters may have wanted to have his new player do in the early going. And aside from a SportsCenter-worthy heave-ho at the end of the first half of the Jacksonville State game, Keane had his struggles.

But now that he has acclimated himself to a role as a bench player upon Lee’s return, the junior from Ajax, Ontario has provided a boost to the rotation. In fact, he is usually the first or second player off the bench and still averages 23.6 minutes a game. With so many guards competing for playing time, it appears that Keane has the upper hand.

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 Weekly Recap: Eating Cupcakes

After losing on the road at Iona, Cleveland State came home to face two opponents that, quite frankly, weren’t exactly the toughest on the planet. To nobody’s surprise, the Vikings came out victorious in both contests this week.

Of course, both Monday’s game against Division II Tiffin and Wednesday’s tilt against Jacksonville State were swallowed whole the big wine and gold machine that is the Cleveland Cavaliers. Honestly, did anyone outside of diehard Cleveland State fans know there was even a game going on this week, let alone two?

That too bad, really, because Northeast Ohio missed a few interesting things that came out of the Wolstein Center.

Grady’s Bounceback (And Scare)

Junior forward Anton Grady, by all accounts, had a pretty bad night against Iona. Sure, he pulled down nine rebounds, but he went 2 for 9 from the floor against the Gaels, and spent most of the first half on the bench with foul trouble.

At home against Tiffin, however, Grady dominated throughout. In fact, he ended up scoring a career-high 26 points in the 85-56 romp over the Dragons. He shot 9-for-13 from the field, including a number of mid-range jumpers that have become a part of his arsenal as of late.

Against Jacksonville State, however, he had to leave the game with 12:24 left in the game after falling awkwardly. Of course, that was greeted with a collective gasp from the Viking fan base. Thankfully, the fall looked worse than it actually was, returning to the game seven minutes later, finishing with 12 points and four boards.

Welcome to Cleveland State, Kaza Keane

The transfer guard from Illinois State didn’t have the greatest game in the world against the Dragons on Monday, going 0-for-8 from the field. Keane fared a little better against the Gamecocks, making three of of his five shots.

Of course, it’s the shot that closed out the first half that generated the most buzz.

Keane took the inbound pass in the final seconds of the half and heaved it towards the basket from 70 feet away. Usually, that doesn’t go in. But in this case, it hit nothing but the bottom of the net. The long shot not only marked an exciting point in an otherwise pedestrian 60-46 Cleveland State win against Jacksonville State, but it ranked No. 9 on ESPN SportCenter’s Top 10 plays.

No Red-shirt for Terrell Hales and Tim Hasbargen After All

There had been some speculation that freshmen Hales and walk-on Hasbargen would be sitting out the season as red-shirts. However, with the suspension of senior guard Charlie Lee, and some displays of athleticism from both, head coach Gary Waters opted to have both players active this season.

For the German Hasbargen, he played 13 minutes of the win against Tiffin, playing significant minutes while Marlin Mason sat with foul trouble. While the stats show that he only had one rebound and didn’t score, he made his defensive presence known while he was on the floor.

Hales, on the other hand, made a much more significant contribution on Wednesday against the Gamecocks. In 18 minutes, he notched seven rebounds, with six of them on the offensive glass, as well as three steals and two assists. His performance evoked memories of another defensive powerhouse, D’Aundray Brown.

Now that it’s clear that both Hasbargen and Hales will be on the bench for the remainder of the season, Waters can now look to expand his rotation if he needs to, lessening the concern of depth in the backcourt, which many have had with the departure of Bryn Forbes and Sebastian Douglas.

On the other hand, Waters now has the dilemma of who to play. With Keane, Trey Lewis and Andre Yates starting, and with Lee returning for the pivotal December home match-up against Toledo, Waters could realistically go very deep on the bench, with Hasbargen, Hales, Derek Sloan and Kenny Carpenter. Minutes will be at a premium, and clearly all seven guards will have to prove they deserve the playing time.

This One’s on You, Global Sports Showcase Organizers

As mentioned, both Cleveland State home games were met with relatively little fanfare around the city, undoubtedly because of the fact that the Cavaliers being home both nights. The Wednesday game against the Gamecocks, which was essentially the college basketball version of Where’s Waldo, had no chance of getting any attention when the Cavs were going up against the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs.

But this scheduling conflict can’t be put on CSU, really, though others, like the Tiffin game that competed and lost badly to Cavs-Nuggets, certainly could be. No, Wednesday’s game can only be put on the organizers of the Global Sports Showcase.

Fans can understand that these games are a means to an end, which, in the case, is a game against a highly-ranked Louisville squad, as well as another tough contest against Marshall. At the same time, could one of the organizers at least said something after the Cavs schedule came out? Even Cleveland State’s Campus Activities Board scheduled a Cavs viewing party during the CSU-Jacksonville State game. That’s how bad a timing it was.

In the future, organizers of these exempt tournaments, please understand that you’re working with an institutions whose Board of Trustees is pulling its hair out because the Wolstein Center keeps hemorrhaging money. You’re not helping.

And Finally…Making Friends With Johnny Football

On Tuesday, the Vikings got themselves an unexpected visitor in Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel. Among those who posted pictures with the first-round draft pick were Lewis as well as the men’s basketball managers, who recently created their own Twitter account a couple of weeks ago.

Needless to say, the managers should get themselves quite a few more Twitter followers now that

There Goes Charlie Lee’s November

The season that started out with a great deal of promise for Cleveland State lasted from the Horizon League’s Media Day to a day before the regular season opener at Iona. In other words, that would be about five weeks.

Senior point guard Charlie Lee, who, along with Trey Lewis, was poised to be part of one of the best backcourt duos in the conference, will be sitting out the first six games of the Viking’s opening slate, according to CSU sports information director Greg Murphy. He has been suspended for what Cleveland State is calling a violation of team rules.

In addition to the opening road tilt against the Gaels, Lee will miss the remainder of the games scheduled in the month of November. This includes all contests that will be part of the Global Sports Showcase, which means that he won’t be playing at all when the Vikings go up against both Marshall and, more significantly, Louisville.

Many fans had hoped that Lee’s absence during the exhibition win against Malone was a just a one-time deal, and that he would be back in the starting lineup as soon as the 2014-15 season began. Now, fans are looking at what could be a very long start to the year.

Without Charlie Lee, the backcourt that was already trying to adjust to the departures of Sebastian Douglas and Bryn Forbes. Now, Cleveland State will have to shuffle its lineup once again for the first six games, and at a time when developing chemistry is absolutely crucial to this young squad.

To make matters worse, the question of who will start in Lee’s place will begin to emerge. The plan was originally to have a three-guard set, which has been a staple of Viking starting lineups during the Gary Waters era. Originally, Lee, Lewis and Creighton transfer Andre Yates were penned in to fill those slots.

Since Lee will not be a part of the equation, the question will arise as to how to adjust. Conventional wisdom would dictate that recent transfer Kaza Keane, who received a hardship waiver and is now a part of the roster, will fill the gap. This was the case during the exhibition, in which he started and notched four points and two assists in 29 minutes of action.

This will also mean that freshman Kenny Carpenter will likely see more minutes than originally planned. The 25 minutes he played against Malone, scoring three points and grabbing five boards, could be the norm for the first part of the season.

Beyond the rotational questions, the bigger issue lies in the fact that as a senior, Lee was supposed to provide leadership on the floor. Without him, the Vikings will have to rely more on fellow senior Marlin Mason and juniors Lewis and Anton Grady to take the helm.

All in all, the Charlie Lee suspension casts a major shadow on Cleveland State’s prospects this year. While games against Tiffin, Jacksonville State and Savannah State were virtual locks to win, the opener against a tough Iona squad will be that much harder to will, as will the game against Marshall. And the Louisville game was already going to be a grind. Lee’s absence doesn’t help matters.

Cleveland State Men's Basketball Preview – Win Or Else (Sort Of)

What’s to say about this year’s edition of the Cleveland State men’s basketball team that hasn’t already been said?

There’s the loss of two guards, Sebastian Douglas and Bryn Forbes, the latter making headlines for transferring to Michigan State and receiving a hardship waiver, making him eligible to play this season instead of having to sit out the mandatory year.

There’s the gain of one and possibly two guards transferring in. Andre Yates finally gets to make his debut in a Viking uniform after waiting a year after his departure from Creighton. Plus, there’s Illinois State transfer Kaza Keane, who recently received a waiver to start playing this year.

Then there’s the oft-maligned frontcourt. Last season, Cleveland State was bolstered by the presence of senior Jon Harris, who brought in both much-needed rebounding and perimeter shooting that hadn’t been around in recent years. Harris has graduated, though, leaving junior star Anton Grady without a running partner.

Let’s not forget the long-standing trouble the Vikings have had in the middle. For all intents and purposes, Grady is not, nor should ever have been, the answer at center. He has always been best-suited as a power forward.

This is where the return of Aaron Scales from his redshirt year and the signing of Vinny Zollo come in. As long as the two are able to contribute at least 20-25 minutes per game in the middle, it will free Grady up to play at his more natural position and, more importantly, prevent him from being subjected to the wear and tear of going up against bigger bodies at center for an extended period of time.

Besides the losses of Douglas and Forbes, the starting backcourt hasn’t really changed that much, and will probably be the best it’s ever been. Senior Charlie Lee, whose first two years were marked with a great deal of inconsistency, seemed to break out last season, at times being the catalysts that Cleveland State has desperately needed.

Trey Lewis, the Penn State transfer, is entering his second year as a Viking, and has some lofty accolades already, being named a pre-season first team Horizon League player in nearly every major college basketball publication.

While Lee and Lewis remain stalwarts in the starting guard position, the question of depth undoubtedly will come to light. While Yates will certainly help address the depth issue, the remainder of that question will likely be answered by Keane and freshman Kenny Carpenter.

And what about Marlin Mason? This season will be his last chance to expound on the flashes of brilliance that he’s displayed over his past three years. But will he? Mason has proved to have some talent both in the paint and behind the arc, but seems to have always deferred to his teammates for most of his career at Cleveland State.

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Now that Forbes is gone, Mason will have to step it up even more than he has. He’ll likely have the chance to play at the small forward position when coach Gary Waters opts to do so. But he will have to fix the issues that resulted in foul trouble for him last season, plus he will have to start being more sure of his shot. We’ve seen him have the ability to make shots. He just have to do it more often to cancel out Forbes leaving.

Then there’s the non-conference schedule.

Honestly, aside from road trips to Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth and Louisville, who on this schedule scares anyone? Toledo? This will be a home game for the Vikings this time, and a certain opportunity to avenge the narrow loss from last season at Toledo.

Cleveland State should absolutely not lose any non-conference games at the Wolstein Center this year.  That said, who on earth thought it would be a good idea to schedule anyone, let alone non-Division I schools, on the same night as Cavaliers home games?

The Vikings have their home opener on November 17th against Tiffin. And no, Tiffin didn’t all of a sudden join the ranks of Division I. You can also imagine what’s going on down the street at Quicken Loans Arena the same night. That’s right. The Cavs will be hosting the Denver Nuggets.

You’d like to think this was an isolated incident, but Cleveland State-Jacksonville State takes place on the same night as Cavs-Spurs (November 19th), and the Vikings take on another non-Division I opponent Mt. Vernon Nazarene when the Cavs play the Charlotte Hornets.

There’s no doubt that Cleveland State will win these games. It’s too bad nobody will likely be around to see them.

As far as the Horizon League goes, the Vikings will likely finish second. Wisconsin-Green Bay remains the odds-on favorite to win the conference, and senior point guard Kiefer Sykes is, by all accounts, this year’s mid-major darling when it comes to NBA draft prospects. And why not? The 5-11 Sykes has ridiculous vertical leap and outstanding ball-handling skills. It should remind Cleveland State fans of Norris Cole a little bit. Greg Mays and Jordan Fouse will also give the Vikings plenty of headaches as well. Most pundits have the top two spots going either way, but the leadership of Sykes gives the Phoenix a slight advantage.

Valparaiso should have been the one team that would be going toe-to-toe for that second spot against Cleveland State, but the recent knee injury by Lexus Williams will be a blow to the young Crusaders squad, and they will likely finish third. Detroit, led by Juwan Howard, Jr., may surprise some and compete with the Vikings, but the Titans don’t appear improve enough to overtake the top three teams, so fourth place is probably where they’ll end up.

Wright State, the team that upset Cleveland State in the Horizon League Tournament last year, will likely not repeat that feat this season, having lost all of their starters from last year. However, returning guard Reggie Arceneaux and Butler transfer Crishawn Hopkins might have a little something in store for the Vikings, so fifth place is as good a spot as any for the Raiders to finish.

Oakland lost a huge piece in Travis Bader, and Corey Petros won’t be enough to keep the Grizzlies from a sixth-place finish. Defending Horizon League tournament champ Milwaukee is in rebuilding mode, as is Youngstown State, and will finish seventh and eighth, respectively.

Rounding out the conference teams, as at seems they are every season, are the Flames of Illinois-Chicago. Last place is once again their destination, and the only plausible reason why Howard Moore will retain his job as head coach is because it would be far too expensive to buy him out.

In the end, unless there’s some great collapse or surprise by any of the Horizon League teams, Cleveland State will, in all likelihood, win 20 games once again but get stopped by Green Bay and therefore end up in the NIT. In other words, the Vikings will probably win enough games not to anger too many people. However, given their professional competition down the street, they likely won’t see an outpouring of new fans, either.

There is one last thing. Last season, Cleveland State, for some odd reason, accepted an invitation to the CollegeInsiders Tournament, which seemed to be a horrible, hastily thrown together type of deal. If the Vikings do fail to make the NCAA or NIT, they would do well not to consider this train wreck of a tournament as a viable option. Just call it a season.

The Ins and Outs of Cleveland State Transfers

As has been mentioned numerous times over the years, Cleveland State has had an influx of traffic as it relates to the members of the men’s basketball team. It was, in all honesty, a precedent set as far back as when Gary Waters took the helm of the program. And from the looks of things, fans will be seeing even more new transfers in the near future.

Right from the outset, Waters accepted transfers from other schools, embracing the concept, even. He understood early on that while players may not choose the Vikings first, the door was always open for them to come aboard.

With that, his first moves were to pave the way for the arrival of three such transfers: Cedric Jackson from St. John’s, George Tandy from Eastern Illinois Northeast Ohioan Chris Moore, which initially played for UC-Santa Barbara.

At the same time, Waters also understood that as players arrive, others will undoubtedly leave. After the 2006-07 campaign, Tristan Crawford and Bahaadar Russell departed for Division II Valdosta State. The following year, Joe Davis left CSU and finished his career at Morgan State.

So when it comes to bringing in new faces and saying good-bye to old ones, it’s clear that Waters has become well-versed in the concepts.

This off-season has been no different. As it’s been widely reported, the Vikings saw two of its players from the 2013-14 campaign leave. The most prominent name, of course, is 2012-13 Horizon League Newcomer of the Year Bryn Forbes, who announced over the summer that he would be heading to Michigan State.

On top of that, the NCAA had granted Forbes a hardship waiver, as he opted to return to his home state to take care of some family medical issues, meaning he will be suited up for the Spartans for the upcoming season.

Along with Forbes, Cleveland State said farewell to 6-10 center Ismaila Dauda, a junior college transfer from Nigeria. At the end of April, Dauda decided to play for North Florida, putting him back in the state where he played his prep school and junior college ball.

While losing a big man in Dauda is tough and the loss of leading scorer Forbes is bad, some comfort can be taken in what the Vikings have brought in from other schools as well.

Already a part of the Cleveland State roster is junior Trey Lewis, the Garfield Heights native who came to the Wolstein Center by way of Penn State. After an impressive sophomore year, he has already been looked at as a pre-season all-conference performer.

Joining Lewis, along with senior starting point guard Charlie Lee, will be the 6-2 combo guard Andre Yates. He takes his spot on the CSU roster after leaving Creighton and sitting out a year.

As the transfers for this year take their respective places in the Cleveland State lineup, Waters is already preparing to welcome two more into the Viking fold.

First, there is Myles Hamilton, a 6-1 guard who played his high school basketball at St. Edward’s. For the past two seasons, Hamilton played down south for Kennesaw State, where he averaged six points and 2.2 assists per game. It is reported that Hamilton will be a walk-on for CSU next season.

Given that Hamilton has had some experience at the Division I level, there’s always the distinct possibility that he can take his year off the court to make enough of an impression to win a scholarship. As reported previously, this type of move has precedent, with Tim Kamczyc and current player Derek Sloan being notable examples.

The second transfer comes in the form of Kaza Keane, who most recently played for Illinois State and will be on scholarship. As part of the Redbirds, he averaged 3.2 assists a game to lead the team during a freshman year that also saw him start 10 contests.

When he wasn’t in an Illinois State uniform, Keane used his talents to bolster the Canadian Junior National Team for two years, highlighted by his eight-assist performance against Iran in the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship in Prague. His squad subsequently went on the place sixth, the highest the Canadian team has ever finished.

Keane will be the most recent Canadian to join the Vikings, the most recent being Luda Ndaye of Montreal, whose college career was hampered by multiple injuries. The Wolstein Center may also serve as a familiar place for Keane, as his sister Takima, played for Cleveland State and was part of the 2010 NCAA Tournament team.

Interestingly enough, it appears that Keane is seeking to start playing for the Vikings this upcoming season. It has been reported that he has applied for a hardship waiver to the NCAA in the hopes he will become immediately eligible.

While the circumstances behind the NCAA appeal aren’t known, the prospect of another guard in the lineup for this season may take some of the sting out of the loss of Forbes, as well as defensive stalwart Sebastian Douglas, who called it a career at the end of last season due a variety of injuries.

Whether every player in and out of the CSU program, fans always dread how things will eventually pan out. In the case of the first three transfers in the Waters era, coupled with Lewis’ recent success, there would be some evidence of benefits. It’s too bad Viking fans may have to wait a year to see it.