Tag Archives: Olivia Voskuhl

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.

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 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.