Cleveland, Ohio — The Cleveland State University Vikings defeated Urbana University Tuesday en route to its first victory of the season, 94-65. The Vikings are now 1-2 on the season.
For a full game recap including post-game remarks from Head Coach Dennis Felton, click here.
Here are four takeaways from tonight’s game.
1. Felton is ‘all systems go’ on playing freshmen
Head Coach Dennis Felton has used 12 players so far this season, and quickly rolled out 11 again tonight early in the game. Of the 12 total players, six were freshmen.
Highlighting the youngsters is the lone starter, Seth Millner. While Millner got into early foul trouble against Urbana, his athleticism provided an early spark and extra layer to the offense.
Millner possesses good speed and jumping ability. He is a guy who can sneak underneath the basket and catch defenders off-guard.
Felton said after the game that the rotation will narrow down as the season progresses, but getting freshmen significant minutes early on is key to their development as individuals and as a team.
2. Felton’s offense is taking shape
Last season was always going to be a challenge for Felton because he didn’t have the right guys to play in his system. However, the young players who developed last season, coupled with Felton’s strong recruiting this offseason, is allowing the team to take shape.
CSU added a lot of length, and those same guys are shooting well from range. CSU has legitimate depth at the forward position, and, alluding back to the previous point, that is thanks to freshmen Deante Johnson, Aleksa Popovic and Dibaji Walker. Algevon Eichelberger also showed that he is not afraid to pull up from long distance.
3. Stefan Kenic has developed into what we all hoped he would
Sophomore Stefan Kenic had a very good freshman year. But Felton constantly promised everyone last year that he was going to continue to grow — and he has.
Kenic didn’t have a full offseason to prepare for his freshman campaign due to his late arrival to the program. However, as Felton often alluded to throughout the year last year, a full summer of lifting and conditioning has done Kenic wonders — at least to this point.
Kenic’s presence on defense is more prominent. He seems stronger and more confident in his abilities on both ends of the court.
Felton said Kenic is much stronger and has put on weight.
4. A balanced offense
CSU had six players reach double-digits in points against Urbana, and Dontel Highsmith finished with nine points.
CSU’s ability to spread the ball around and not have to rely on only a couple of players will serve it well in developing its young core of players.
While the rotation will not stay as wide open, Felton believes it’s beneficial to get younger players quality playing time while the opportunity is there.
Photo by Matthew Johns