The Vikings hope to right the ship the same way they did last year with an early season tournament in the state of Florida. Last year CSU opened the season 3-1, including victories over South Florida and Florida State while taking part in the Glenn Wilkes Classic.
This year's trip starts Monday at 5 p.m. as the Vikings take on division II St. Leo out of the Sunshine State Conference. The Lions are off to a 3-0 start after finishing 14-15 a season ago. St. Leo is led by junior Jordan Prais. The 6-7 forward averages 22 points per contest on an astounding 82-percent (23-28) from the field and also chips in a team high 6.7 rebounds.
The Vikings turn around Tuesday afternoon to face in-state foe Toledo at 4 p.m. The Rockets are off to a 0-2 start after blowout losses on the road to #19 Florida and Xavier. UT has been led through two games by Tyrone Kent's 25 points per game. The 6-5 senior guard out of Chicago poured in a career high 37 points against Xavier.
The CBE Classic comes to an end for the Vikings Wednesday at 7 p.m. against host Florida International. The Panthers are off to a 2-1 start with victories over Eastern Kentucky and Monmouth and a loss at Washington. FIU is led this year by 6-3 guard Michael Dominguez who averages 14.3 points per game. The junior college transfer is shooting .417 (10-24) from beyond the three point line.
In order to turn things around the Vikings need to become more efficient on the offensive end, especially in the first half. Through three games CSU is shooting a chilly 22-percent (22-98) from the floor during the first half but has rebounded to shoot 45-percent (44-97) in the second half.
The two-headed attack on offense was expected to come from seniors Cedric Jackson and J'Nathan Bullock. Jackson is averaging 9.3 points and 6 assists per game but is struggling from the field (9-42 .214) and from three (0-14). Bullock has been solid while averaging 10.7 points and 6.7 rebounds but he too has been cold from the floor, shooting just 29-percent (10-35).
The offensive spark has instead come from two sophomores in Norris Cole and D'Aundray Brown. Cole is leading the team with 17 points per game. The Dayton native chipped in a career high 20 at Washington and followed with 17 against Kansas State. Brown is second on the team with 11 points and leads the team with 7 rebounds per game. The native of Youngstown is shooting 55-percent (12-22) from the floor.
This is an important week for CSU to possibly pick up some much needed wins. The Vikings return home after Thanksgiving for an early start to Horizon League play with important match-ups with Valparaiso and Butler. Following the conference tease, the Vikings hit the road for a non-conference grind through West Virginia, Marist and Syracuse.