Robinson’s Vikings debut non conference schedule

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On a yearly basis, teams form a new identity heading into a fresh season regardless of how many returning players the program has. This will especially be the case with this year’s Cleveland State men’s basketball team as first year head coach Daniyal Robinson and his staff have been tasked with replacing the core foundation of a group that went to the NCAA Tournament two seasons ago.

One key aspect of Robinson’s tenure thus far that CSU fans should be excited about is he retained the commitments of local recruits Ramar Pryor and Daniel Young. Pryor joins the squad this upcoming season, having played his high school ball at St. Vincent St. Mary’s in Akron, while Young will arrive next season after a year of prep school at Spire Institute. Not only are both of these players extremely gifted on the floor, but they represent Robinson’s understanding of the importance of strongly recruiting your home base. While Robinson’s basketball connections are most prevalent in Illinois and Michigan, building connections at home will be extremely beneficial in the long run.

Cleveland State returns just five players from last year’s team, one of whom was a redshirt. Yahel Hill, Deshon Parker, Jayson Woodrich, Deante Johnson, and Cole Middleton will all be tasked with laying the foundation for the new arrivals on how to prepare for the upcoming season. As the roster currently sits at twelve, the Vikings do have the flexibility to add another late arrival if someone falls into their lap.

With the release of the non conference schedule this past week, the Vikings can begin to look ahead to various road trips and home contests that will prepare them for league play. Regular season play kicks off on November 7th with a home game against Notre Dame (Ohio) before the Vikes hit the road for their first trip of the season. The non conference schedule is highlighted by this particular trip as CSU will battle Cincinnati in perhaps their most high profile game of the non conference season, followed by a trip to Athens, Ohio for what has become a yearly battle with Ohio University. Scheduling these two games for so early in the season will provide a terrific barometer on where the Vikings are early in the season.

The Vikings will also host their own MTE for the second straight season. Cleveland State will battle former Viking Chris Greene and Arkansas Pine Bluff on November 18th, before hosting Chicago State on November 23rd. CSU will also for the third straight season attempt to play Kent State, this time at home. The Vikings had KSU on the schedule the last two seasons as well, but had to cancel due to COVID. To wrap up the non conference slate, Cleveland State will travel to Los Angeles for a game with Loyola Marymount. This provides the players a terrific opportunity at team bonding as they will be able to make it an extended stay out west with the current alignment of their schedule, before hosting Mt. St. Joseph in their final non conference tune up on December 21st.

While this schedule does not contain marquee matchups with powerhouses that Cleveland State has scheduled recently, this was done purposefully by Coach Robinson and his staff due to the mass influx of new talent in the program. Despite that, the Vikings scheduled some premier mid major competition with matchups against Ohio and Kent State, in addition to their clash with the “large major” Cincinnati Bearcats, a team that has built a sustained culture regardless of the coach in place; something that Cleveland State is looking to replicate.

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