Cleveland State plays only one game this week and it's a nationally-televised contest at Horizon League rival Youngstown State and the ESPNU cameras figure to draw out the largest crowd of the season for the Penguins.
CSU (13-7, 4-4) is coming off a disappointing road trip into Wisconsin that saw the Vikings drop two straight. CSU was handled easily by Green Bay 65-40 and only a furious seven minute rally got the Vikings into the game in a 77-75 loss at Milwaukee as CSU trailed by double figures for much of the night.
The Vikes were dealt a scare at Green Bay when J'Nathan Bullock left the floor with a foot injury. Luckily for CSU, the steady Bullock was back in the second half to keep the team's hopes alive for an eventual run through the Horizon League.
Although CSU isn't off to the hot start that many predicted, the Vikings are not out of the running and last season serves as a perfect example. The Vikings lost five straight league games last season from January 24th to February 7th to fall to 7-5. CSU then rebounded to win five-of-six to finish in second place in the Horizon League at 12-6.
It's a long road ahead for the Vikings, but these players already proved that they can't be counted out too soon.
Previewing Youngstown State: Friday 9 p.m. on ESPN U at the Beeghly Center in Youngstown
Youngstown State (5-12, 2-6) is coming off a 78-61 loss at Green Bay as the Penguins were also swept in the state of Wisconsin. Despite the record, YSU has proven to be a tough out at home.
The Penguins are a young group that includes three seniors with only one of the seniors playing more than seven minutes per contest. The lone senior contributing at all is Jack Liles with his modest 8.1 points per game. The youth movement for YSU is led by a pair of junior college transfers in Kelvin Bright and Sirlester Martin.
Bright, a 6-4 guard out of Silver Springs, Md., transferred from Hagerstown CC after playing as a freshman at Robert Morris. The well traveled Bright has started every contest for the Penguins and is leading the team in points per game despite shooting only 38-percent (86-225) from the floor and 29-percent (18-63) from three. Bright's 14.2 points per game rank fifth in the Horizon League.
The other newcomer for YSU is Martin and he's a force on the glass. The 6-7 native of Memphis is a transfer from Walters State CC and is leading the team with 7.4 rebounds per game while also chipping in 9.5 points on 44-percent (67-152) shooting. The 7.4 boards rank second in the Horizon League.
Another player for the Vikings to keep an eye on is junior DeAndre Mays. The 6-2 guard scored a career high 22 points against Green Bay and is averaging 10.5 points and a team high 3.5 assists per game.
The Vikings finally return home next week for contests with Detroit on Thursday January 29 and Wright State on Saturday January 31. Both games start at 7:30 p.m.