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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Cleveland State brings talent without recognition

    Cleveland State forward Norris Cole goes up for a layup in an 84-69 upset victory over No. 4-seed Wake Forest on Friday in AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami.
    Cleveland State forward Norris Cole goes up for a layup in an 84-69 upset victory over No. 4-seed Wake Forest on Friday in AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami.

    NCAA Tournament Second Round

    MIAMI – Lost throughout the shuffle of college basketball’s mid-majors, Cleveland State isn’t exactly a household name even in its own state, let alone the nation.

    With recognizable hoops schools like Ohio State, Xavier, Cincinnati and Dayton, it’s the state of Ohio’s unlikely Horizon League school that finds itself one game away from the Sweet 16.

    But then again, when was the last time name-brand recognition determined the outcome of an NCAA Tournament game?

    Over the past two Tournaments, schools like George Mason and Davidson have blossomed overnight, spurring significant student application increases after the national exposure of an NCAA Tournament.

    It’s the time of year that any school can turn heads and earn respect from the big boys.

    Although the Wildcats play Sunday afternoon with their lowest NCAA Tournament seeding in school history, they still wear the name-brand block “”A”” logo that Lute Olson built to become a symbol for consistency in college basketball over the past quarter-century.

    In years past, the sight of an “”Arizona-Cleveland State”” Tournament matchup might have a No. 1-seed vs. No. 16, or No. 2 vs. No. 15.

    But even as a No. 12 this year, the big-name Wildcats face a relatively little-known No. 13 Cleveland State on Sunday night in AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami.

    “”We didn’t know much (about Cleveland State),”” said UA point guard Nic Wise. “”All we knew is that before we got into the tournament, them beating Butler, we thought they took one of our spots, so that’s all we knew about them pretty much. (Friday) was an eye-opener, so we can’t take them lightly like Wake Forest did.””

    An eye-opener? How so?

    “”Just to know that they’re a small-name school but they have big-name talent,”” Wise added. “”You can’t take them out, come out soft and pass them in the beginning because they’ll come out fast and they’ll hit you hard.””

    CSU starting guard Cedrick Jackson, a transfer from one-time Big East powerhouse St. John’s, didn’t even know the Cleveland State colors, mascot or conference before deciding to transfer.

    Jackson scored 19 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in CSU’s upset victory over No. 4-seed Wake Forest on Friday to put the Vikings in this opportunity to reach the Sweet 16.

    “”No, I didn’t know, so I looked at it online, and it was a tough adjustment for me because I’d been red and white for those two years at St. John’s. So it was kind of hard to get used to a green and white color.””

    While Cleveland State may lack name recognition, there’s no shortage of team comparisons. UA wing Chase Budinger and UA interim head coach Russ Pennell compared CSU to Washington for its fast-paced, athletic style.

    UA wing Jamelle Horne compared CSU to California because “”they run-n-gun like Cal, but they’re not as big. They’ve got a point guard like (Cal point guard) Jerome Randle who can create and shoot.””

    Jordan Hill compared CSU’s style to Oregon’s quickness.

    All those comparisons link the Vikings to big-name Pac-10 teams.

    “”They’re a very underrated team, and as we talked to our players today, you’ve got to be careful in this tournament not to read what’s on the front of a jersey because everyone in this tournament is good,”” Pennell said. “”You get teams like Cleveland State and Siena and maybe some teams we don’t see as much on national television, you can’t get fooled by the fact they don’t get that much hype, because they’ve got great players.””

    Added Budinger: “”When they first had the run, you could just see how athletic they are, how on the defensive end how quick they are. They like getting in the passing lanes, trying to create steals, create turnovers, and they love to run. That just shows that they’re a very talented team, and we’ve just got to come here tomorrow and be ready for them because it’s going to be a tough battle.””

    Arizona’s trapping will ‘definitely vary’

    Arizona controlled the pace of Friday’s 84-71 first-round win over Utah by using extensive traps.

    All season, the Wildcats have trapped their opponents, but rarely to the extent that the Utes felt in their backcourt.

    Instead of attempting to execute one trap, then retreating back to a half-court defensive set, Arizona threw multiple trap schemes at Utah, effectively forcing 20 turnovers.

    Because the Utes rarely saw full-court presses to that extent during regular-season Mountain West Conference play, it was difficult for them to imitate what they thought they would anticipate against Arizona.

    The Wildcats, a much more athletic, quick and long team, took advantage of their build against Utah.

    Now as Arizona advances to the next round, so does the level of opponent. Cleveland State brings a very fast-paced offense with versatile quickness along the perimeter.

    Athletically, they’re a big upgrade from Utah.

    “”We’re definitely going to adjust,”” said UA guard Kyle Fogg. “”We’re still going to try to keep the pressure on; that’s what our defense is mostly about. But we’re definitely going to switch up on our defense more than we did last game just to deal with their quickness.””

    Added Horne: “”I think there’s definitely a point of emphasis on who we’re going to pressure, when we’re going to pressure, and how we’re going to pressure. We’re definitely going to vary it tomorrow.””

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