Bryant (0-0) at Cleveland State (0-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 12th, 7:30 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Wolstein Center (13,610) -- Cleveland, Ohio. Television: None. Home Record: Bryant 0-0, CSU 0-0. Away Record: Bryant 0-0, CSU 0-0. Neutral Record: Bryant 0-0, CSU 0-0. Conference Record: Bryant 0-0, CSU 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Bryant Bulldogs try to get their 2010-11 campaign off on the right foot tonight as they take part in the World Vision Basketball Classic against host school Cleveland State at the Wolstein Center.
Head coach Tim O'Shea doesn't have far to exceed last year's win total as the Bulldogs posted a miserable 1-29 record, their only win coming against Wagner in the middle of February by a final of 53-51 on the road. The team was winless at home in 11 tries and produced a woeful 51.9 ppg, while giving up 69.5 ppg along the way.
As for the Vikings, they are tipping off their 80th season of men's basketball tonight and are hoping for better results than they had a year ago when they finished a game below .500 at 16-17. On a positive note, CSU returns all five starters which hopefully means the close calls from 2009-10, like the 80-78 setback versus sixth-ranked West Virginia, will now swing their way.
This game marks the first-ever meeting between these two teams and both will be back in action the next two days as they switch partners with Iona and Kent State to finish out the event.
Cecil Gresham played in just eight games a season ago before going down with an injury and during his time on the hardwood he was the most productive scorer for the Bulldogs with his 14.5 ppg. Obviously the program is thrilled to have the forward back in action to begin 2010-11, although he still has to show that he can shoot better than 36.6 percent from the field. Assuming the center position again will be Vlad Kondratyev who shot almost 50 percent from the floor and accounted for nearly nine points per outing. However, the big man has to understand that his presence in the paint (22 blocked shots) is worth more than his weak perimeter shooting (.235) and his lackluster passing (10 assists against 57 turnovers). Raphael Jordan (7.2 ppg) came off the bench for the most part last season and while he was a minor spark on offense, its still hard to overlook the fact that he shot just 33.6 percent from the field. Then again, this is a team that shot a mere 37.3 percent from the floor as a group and 28.5 percent behind the three-point line.
Guard play will again be key to the Cleveland State success this season, focusing particularly on senior Norris Cole who accounted for 16.4 ppg and delivered another 4.4 apg as he made it onto the All-Horizon League First Team a season ago. Juniors Trevon Harmon and Jeremy Montgomery will also make the offense roll along after putting up 10.5 ppg and 12.8 ppg, respectively. Also between the two of them they handed out almost five assists per contest to help everyone else get in on the action as well. With senior forward D'Aundray Brown out until the middle of December while he works his way back from surgery on his right index finger, the front court will be handled by forwards Charlie Woods and Josh McCoy, the latter having missed last year due to hip surgery. Locking down the center spot is Aaron Pogue who a year ago put up solid numbers with 6.3 ppg and 5.4 rpg, but clearly there's still room for improvement given how much attention the guards will be getting from defenses this year.
Bryant will certainly have a better record than it did last year, but don't expect huge leaps and bounds from the Bulldogs right away.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cleveland State 69, Bryant 53
11/12 10:34:59 ET