The University of San Francisco takes on its first D-1 opponent of the 2013-2014 campaign on Wednesday night when Cleveland State comes to town. USF is coming off an impressive 95-57 win over the Notre Dame de Namur Argonauts. The Green & Gold will be playing their second game as they complete a four game home stand to kick off the season. Cleveland State is coming off a home win of their own as they beat the Iona Gaels last Saturday night to a final score of 73-69.
During Cleveland State’s opening night win, the Vikings over came a 15 point halftime deficit. Head Coach Gary Waters credited the Vikings second half defense as the reason Cleveland State prevailed. Waters also mentions that the Iona Gaels were quicker than his Vikings, forcing him to make the half time adjustments. Cleveland switched to half court defense and was able to slow down the Gael attack.
Cleveland State was picked to finish third in the Horizon League preseason poll, receiving two first place votes. Iona was also picked to finish third in the MAAC Conference poll, receiving one first place vote. However, even though the Vikings have only played one game of the regular season, the Cleveland State squad should be comfortable as a team. During the off-season, CSU participated in a European foreign tour. Coach Waters has had earlier success with teams participating in a foreign tour prior to NCAA play. He has taken five teams on international off-season tours – all five continued to the NCAA tournament.
In Europe, visits included Amsterdam, Belgium and Paris – including five games. The Vikings went undefeated and Coach Gary Waters gave each player significant minutes on the foreign tour. Waters also gave each player a start. Only time will tell if the practice of changing starters each game continues into the regular season. What we can determine from the Iona game, Waters will continuously substitute his players during a game. He really believes in Cleveland State’s depth and his ideal plan would include not having a single player on his team play more than 25 minutes per game.
Cleveland State lost some players last year, but the Vikings added many replacements to excel their team in 2013. They are still figuring out their team identity, but Trey Lewis and Jon Harris will come to prove as key transfer students for Cleveland State. The pair expect to see many minutes and look to provide to a veteran laden club. Trey, like Matthew Glover, was a transfer from Penn State. He picked up twelve points off the bench and led the Vikings with 5 assists. Jon Harris added 10 points and seven rebounds in the win. The leading scorer for the Vikings win over Iona was Bryn Forbes with 22 points.
— Tom Mieskoski (@CSUVikingsHoops) November 6, 2013
Going into a match up with the Dons on Wednesday, the Vikings will surely rely on any height advantage. USF will have to keep Cleveland State on their toes during the opening minutes and look for shooters Avry Holmes and Matt Glover to set the pace. Cleveland clearly struggled against Iona’s speed and pace of game play on Saturday. So if the Dons continue to be aggressive shooters, CSU may change their defense early in the contest and adapt to USF’s play. Then the inside game could open up for Dickerson and Tollefsen. Success from beyond the arch is key to a continuously adapting defense. Like San Francisco, CSU had trouble rebounding last year but should have added big men to promote an increase in rebounds.
Winning over a solid Iona squad on Opening night gives the Vikings a great sense of momentum heading into San Francisco. It was an all around game that tested the Vikings defense, the CSU endurance and the team’s will to comeback and win. This will be a much tighter game than the NDNU blowout. Both Rex Walters and Gary Waters preach of their respective team’s depth off the bench, but I believe USF has the overall advantage due to it’s squads versatility.
One for the Road
Highlights from Friday night’s win for the USF Dons.