Vikings back on track heading into league play

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Navigating injuries has been a recent theme for the Cleveland State Vikings men’s basketball team, as players are being cast into new roles before Horizon League play kicks into high gear. KJ DeBrick is set to miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury he sustained at Eastern Michigan, and the Vikings have been without Jalin Rice and Chase Robinson for recent contests. However, Cleveland State has shown the mental fortitude needed to carry a two game winning streak into the holidays.

“I think the greatest thing about this team and being at Cleveland State is how connected we are…” proclaimed senior forward Jayson Woodrich following his 21 point performance in the Vikings’ victory over Western Michigan on Thursday. “…there’s always gonna be people that go down with injuries. The great thing is we just come together and it makes us closer as a team, united as one.”

While Cleveland State’s depth has been tested in recent weeks, Daniyal Robinson has settled on sharpshooter Woodrich as the fifth member of the starting lineup. The decision has paid dividends thus far, as he has not only elevated Cleveland State’s ability to space the floor and create driving lanes for teammates, but he has done a stellar job of rebounding since becoming a member of the starting lineup before the Vikings’ road win against Bradley.

Additionally, Tristan Enaruna is fortifying his preseason conference player of the year nomination by leading the Vikings in nearly every facet. A 32 point, 10 rebound performance on Thursday night was good for a collegiate career scoring high, as the native of The Netherlands looks to not only lead Cleveland State back to the NCAA Tournament, but solidify himself as an NBA prospect in the process. While he will only go down in the record books as a Viking for two seasons, the 1000 point career scorer is a name that Cleveland State fans will remember forever.

While the season is still young, the Vikings have been through quite a bit of adversity in recent weeks, and have come out on the other side with momentum heading into the remainder of Horizon League play. When asked about how his team handled the recent bout of injuries and what it says about his program, Daniyal Robinson stated, “It says a ton about the character of our guys. We talk about as a team, we need everyone…we feel that each role is just as important.”

Having the mental fortitude to battle through adverse situations is a major aspect of athletics at any level. While the Vikings have been forced to adjust on the fly to multiple injuries, the team’s goals and expectations remain the same regardless of which five players are on the floor. Up next for Cleveland State following the Holiday recess will be a home battle with conference foe Oakland. Tip-off is scheduled for 7pm on Thursday, December 28th.

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