Last Year Vs. UNC: Despite trailing by double-digits in the first half, the Vikings found themselves up 76-72 with three minutes left, before the Tar Heels scored the final 10 points of the game for an 82-76 final score. "I've never won the lottery, but when you win the lottery you must feel as lucky as I do now," Roy Williams said afterwards. Omari Westley had 20 points and 10 rebounds for CSU and Cleveland native Jawad Williams led all scorers with 24 points and 11 boards. After this narrow defeat, the Vikings went 2-24 the rest of the way, losing their last 23 games amid player injuries and suspensions.
Opposite Directions: While North Carolina has won 10 in a row since losing its opener, CSU has done the opposite -- winning its first three games, and losing four-straight since then. The Vikings' wins have been against unnknowns Hillsdale, Clarion and Norfolk State, and the losses have been to solid mid-major programs Akron, Kent State (CSU surrendered a 19-point lead), Eastern Michigan and also to Utah Valley State.
Board King: Omari Westley was a highly touted high school prospect out of Cleveland and has lived up to expectations. He's the team's leading returning scorer, led the conference in rebounding last season and is well on the way to doing so again with 9.6 boards/game (4.1 off.).
Three-Point Threats: Modibo Niakate, Raheem Moss and Steve Gansey have been the team's best outside shooters this season, combining for 41.1% on three-pointers. Niakate, CSU's career record holder for three-point percentage, is shooting them at a 44% clip this season, while Gansey (42%) and Moss (38%) are close behind.
Shortened Season: Niakate is actually six games away from the end of his college career. The NCAA ruled that he only had 13 games of eligibility remaining at the start of 2004-05, after an incomplete junior college season four years ago and a redshirt last season, so he'll leave the team on Jan. 17.
Comeback Kid: Forward Patrick Tatham was severely limited last season because of knee problems which ultimately led to season-ending surgery. Now healthy, the sophomore's numbers are way up (9.9 pts, 5.1 reb, 2.4 stl) and he's one of the team's key contributors.
Improving Control: Turnovers were a major reason for last season's poor record, as evidenced by the 20 TOs they committed against UNC. This year, they've seen great improvement in assists (+3.8), steals (+3.7) and turnover margin (+6.6).
Background Location: Cleveland, Ohio Enrollment: 16,326 Conference: Horizon League Nickname: Vikings Colors: Teal, Forest Green & White Head Coach: Mike Garland Record at CSU: 7-29
Projected Starters: 2 Walt Chavis (5-11, G, Sr.) – 4.4 ppg, 5.3 apg 3 Victor Morris (6-0, G, So.) – 6.1 ppg, 2.7 apg 5 Omari Westley (6-7, F, Sr.) - 13.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg 21 Patrick Tatham (6-6, F, So.) – 9.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg 30 Justin Henderson (6-8, C, Jr.) - 6.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg Key Reserves: 2 Modibo Niakate (6-1, G, Sr.) – 13.3 ppg 00 Raheem Moss (6-4, F, So.) – 10.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg 42 Steve Gansey (6-3, G, Fr.) – 5.6 ppg 31 Mike Redell (6-1, G, Fr.) – 3.4 ppg
Westley ... Tatham
Morris ... Chavis
Henderson ... Garland
(CSU Sports Info contributed to this report.)