Despite Cleveland State’s four game winning streak coming to an end at the hands of Wright State on the road, the Vikings were able to upend Northern Kentucky in an overtime thriller to extend Cleveland State home run to sixteen consecutive victories at The Wolstein Center.
While forcing eighteen turnovers, a stale of their attacking defense, the Vikings had difficulty with the size of the Raiders of Wright State. The pairing of Brandon Noel and AJ Braun torched Cleveland State’s interior to the tune of 40 points on 90% shooting from the floor. Coaches and players alike consistently preach the standard the Vikings hold themselves to on the defensive end of the floor, and that standard was absent in the 82-70 defeat. Cleveland State will certainly need to formulate an alternative game plan to handle the size of the Raiders for their upcoming rematch on January 25th in Cleveland.
Conversely, the Vikings were able to rebound mentally from the loss and withstand everything Northern Kentucky threw at them in an 88-85 overtime spectacular. While his numbers were not as gaudy as some of his teammates, Cleveland State big man Dylan Arnett played an integral role in exemplifying the Vikings altered mindset, as he was making crucial hustle plays from the opening tip. Arnett’s development has been critical for a Cleveland State team that has dealt with injury on the front line.
Following the win, Daniyal Robinson had this to say about his sophomore, “When KJ (DeBrick) went out, and Dylan, knowing that he’s gonna get the minutes, he’s kinda settled in…he’s producing at a high level. He does a lot of unselfish things that don’t show up in the box score. His ball screen defense was elite tonight…he’s learned a ton last year from Spider Johnson and Spider Johnson is one of the best defenders I have ever coached…Dylan’s basketball IQ is growing…he’s gonna be a guy down the line that’s gonna be a staple for our program.”
Arnett’s high motor is not only infectious to his teammates, but it sets the tone early on in games as his activity on the offensive glass causes headaches for the opposition. The Vikings currently rank third in the Horizon League as a team in rebounds per game, and also third in the league in blocks per game. While Coach Robinson has preached the concept of “team rebounding”, Dylan Arnett oftentimes takes matters into his own hands, especially on the offensive glass.
In addition to Arnett, Tristan Enaruna has been other worldly in nearly all of Cleveland State’s home games this season, and Sunday afternoon was no exception. Enaruna led the Vikings in points, rebounds, and assists in a game they needed to have. Following the contest, the Cleveland State big man spoke on how he has adjusted to playing more minutes at center when he stated, “It kinda put me in a position where I can make different plays, kinda attack the defense a little different from how they may have scouted. It forces me to be really involved on the glass which is something I have to consistently stay good at throughout the course of this season to help this team be better…coaches do a really good job of putting me in a position where I can be successful, so I don’t think it impacts my game a whole lot negatively, but it gives me an opportunity to get better at certain aspects of the game.”
While Enaruna’s natural position is not center, he has done a fantastic job of adjusting to playing major minutes at the position and the wear and tear that comes with it. Up next for the Vikings, a pair of road games in Wisconsin next weekend. Cleveland State will do battle with Milwaukee on Friday night before heading to Green Bay for an early afternoon affair on Sunday afternoon. Tip offs are scheduled for 8pm and noon respectively.