Cleveland State opened the 2019-20 season with an exhibition game on October 30th. Local Division II school Notre Dame College provided the opposition.
“Exhibition” is somewhat of a misnomer in this case. Not much was exhibited during the 40 minutes of play that would give CSU fans something to cheer for.
The Vikings’ roster upheaval has been well documented and, with only four returning players from the 2018-19 squad, wins will be hard to come by. So I suppose it was appropriate for CSU to come up short versus NDC. But we may have to brace ourselves for some ugly games this year.
After an energetic start that provided a 36-25 halftime lead for Cleveland State, the Vikings looked flatter than a tortilla after the intermission. The Notre Dame Falcons outplayed CSU throughout the second half and came away with a 69-64 victory.
I won’t dwell on the details of the game, but here are some observations regarding the individual performances for Cleveland State.
Missing: Senior forward Jaalam Hill was on the bench, but did not dress for the game. I hope that whatever caused him to sit this one out is minor. The Vikings will need his solid rebounding and double-digit scoring to have any chance for success.
Kash-ing in: Senior point guard Kasheem Thomas will be counted on to provide both scoring and leadership. He led the Vikings with 15 points vs. NDC, but only scored 3 in the second half.
Glass masters: Returning forwards Al Eichelberger and Deante Johnson are dependable rebounders, but have yet to provide any consistent scoring during their CSU careers. These trends continued vs. NDC.
Newcomers, frontcourt: Graduate transfer Jalen Williams is a solid 6-8 post player who has spent the last four years with Furman University. He doesn’t seem especially nimble, but has good hands for a big man. Freshman Daylen Williams (the Jalen & Daylen show?) is also 6-8 but checks in at a slender 195 pounds. He played briefly versus NDC but didn’t have a chance to show anything.
Newcomers, backcourt: Sophomore Tre Gomillion, a transfer from Gordon State University in Georgia, impressed me the most. He has good size (6-4), a good handle, and he hustles on both ends of the court. Franklyn Penn, Jr., a native of the Virgin Islands, played at junior college programs in New Mexico and Texas the last two seasons. He has a nice shooting touch, but needs to improve on defense. Gomillion and Penn each scored 11 points in their Viking debut.
Long leash: Tyrese Potoma is the shortest player on the CSU roster at 5-11. He has only one year of college experience, playing at Laramie (WY) Community College last year. But for some reason, he was granted an inordinate amount of playing time versus NDC. And he responded by shooting the ball with extreme confidence from all parts of the court. Unfortunately, he only sank one of the (estimated) 12 shots he attempted.
Bit parts: Craig Beaudion, a junior transfer from Colby (KS) Community College, was in the starting lineup, but scored only two points and played very little. Hugo Ferreira, a freshman from Portugal, made only a brief appearance. Torrey Patton, a junior transfer from the University of Akron, was in uniform but did not play.