CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) - Last season the Cleveland State Vikings started out of the gate 10-1, but a 2-7 stretch to end the season ended the hopes of a shot at playing in the NCAA Tournament.
This season, the club will have a very different look, with four sophomores being penciled into the starting lineup, head coach Gary Waters knows this year may not get off to the fast start like in 2011-12.
“This has got to be more of a team effort for us to be as good as we’ve got to be,” Waters said. “And the positive thing with this group is they understand that, it’s not one guy trying to do it by himself.”
Gone are the top three scorers from a season ago – Tre Harmon (12.6 points per game), Jeremy Montgomery (10.9 ppg) and D’Aundray Brown (10.8 ppg).
One of the biggest challenges for Waters is to find where those points are going to be made up, and he knows early that will be a key to the start for the CSU season.
One player that will be counted on heavily is that of the only senior on the squad – Tim Kamzcyc, who last season played in 33 games, all starts, and averaged 9.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.
Waters says that Kamzcyc will have to be a leader not only in the stat column, but also being vocal with the young players he will have to direct on the floor.
Another concern for Waters is the size, and how he and his young team will stop teams from pounding them inside night after night.
“My biggest concern is interior defense,” Waters said. “Interior defense, point production and overall depth, those are things we have to shore up.
“I think we can improve the interior defense, we have to find out where the offense is going to come from, I’ve got to get nine guys, right now I am toying around 7 or 8.”
The Vikings will start the season at home with a exhibition game Tuesday vs Malone, then will start for real Friday night vs Grambling.
The team will then play in the NIT Season Tip-Off, and in between will play Old Dominion at home on November 17th.
Their schedule in December is brutal, with three games that Waters knows will be tough – at N.C. State on December 8th, at St.Bonaventure on December 15th, and at rival Akron Sunday December 23rd.
“All three are going to be tough games,” Waters said.
The Vikings were chosen to finish 5th in the preseason Horizon League poll voted on by selected media as well as SID’s and the leagues nine coaches.
Valparaiso, who the Vikings lost two twice last season and won the Horizon, were picked to be again the champs of the league.
Waters, entering his 6th season as the head coach of the Men’s team, knows that with four sophomores in the lineup come opening night, this years Vikings team may not start to get good till the second half of the year.
“We probably won’t hit our stride until January as opposed to November or December,” Waters said. “December is going to be a tough period for us, we play three games that are really tough in December.”
The starting lineup looks as follows for the Vikings:
Sebastian Douglas Guard
Charlie Lee Guard
Anton Grady Forward
Marlin Mason Forward
Tim Kamczyc Forward
The team has four freshmen on the bench, along with two sophomores and a junior.
Last season the Vikings were 22-11, and with the look of the unit and the inexperience of it entering the season, they will be hard pressed to be as good as last year.