The last month has been a tough one for Gary Water’s Cleveland State Vikings. Losers of four straight over Division I opponents, and without their star player Anton Grady who is likely done for the season with a knee injury, the team now gears up for Horizon League action which begins tonight with a contest against Valparaiso which will air nationally on ESPNU.
The Vikings will have their hands full with the Crusaders if recent games are any indication. Valpo won the regular season conference title last season and possess a notable size advantage against the guard heavy CSU squad. The Crusaders also come in a bit desperate for a win after getting upset on their home floor against Loyola on Tuesday night to start league play. While facing two first team all league selections in Ryan Broekhoff and Kevin Van Wijk is a daunting task in itself, the Vikings need to work out a number of problems that having been plaguing the team for weeks now.
CSU head coach Gary Waters hasn’t been shy to communicate his frustration about the amount of turnovers that his team has committed in recent weeks. He has also lamented the slow starts the team has had coming out of the gate and their free throw shooting. While the coach has been candid about his unhappiness, he still believes that his squad has the talent on the floor to compete in the Horizon League and stresses his young team needs to learn to “figure things out”.
One player in particular could provide the boost the Vikings need heading into conference play. Junior Lomomba, their prized recruit coming into the season, seems to have recovered from a broken foot that he sustained in preseason. The injury forced the freshman, who was offered scholarships by elite programs such as UCLA and Cincinnati, to miss the opening month of the season and has limited his minutes. In his time on the court, Lomomba has shown flashes of brilliance on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
In order to turn things around, the Vikings will also hope that point guard Charlie Lee snaps out of his recent funk. After a brilliant start, Lee has been plagued by turnovers and a lack of production scoring on the offensive end.
Senior leader Tim Kamczyc says that he wants to tell his young teammates to put the recent non-conference woes in the past. Waters echoed that sentiment saying, “This team has a chance to do well in the league but they have to want it. They have to play consistent fundamental basketball.”