Get real CSU, no one forgot about you

Basking in the glow of their awesome beat down of No. 7 Vanderbilt, the Cleveland State Vikings welcomed some national media to campus and played the part of media darlings.

The mothership sent ESPN.com writer Myron Medcalf to Cleveland to talk to head coach Gary Waters and different members of the CSU basketball team.

So what did Gary Waters have to say in the ESPN.com story?

“No one ever paid us any attention,” Waters told ESPN.com’s Myron Medcalf.

Just so we’re clear, this is a tactic used by coaches across the country to motivate their teams.  Gary Waters is no different.

Gary Waters thinks people are overlooking him. But it's just a ploy to motivate his players.

A lot of the article focused on how Waters “lets them play” in practice and how it’s good to get players ready for the rigors of a physical basketball game.  I tend to agree with that assessment – you make tough players that way.

But the last quote shows us what he’s telling his players.  That everyone is overlooking them, and no one expects them to compete for the conference title.

And that, my friends, is the biggest cock-and-bull anyone is telling their players.

Of course many people thought that Cleveland State was going to compete for the title.  Forget what most of us said, what about the other coaches from top Horizon League teams outside of Cleveland State?

Milwaukee coach Rob Jeter had this to say. “You could put four teams in a bag and whoever falls out could easily be that top team,” said Jeter to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  And when he’s talking about that, he doesn’t mean Milwaukee, Butler, Detroit and UIC.

Detroit’s Ray McCallum Sr. doesn’t think his team is there quite yet, and they have to get up to speed with the best in the conference.  When he lists them, who is first on that list? “It’s time for us to step up with Cleveland State, Butler, Milwaukee and Valparaiso,” McCallum told Andy Katz of ESPN at the beginning of the month.

Cleveland State received three first-place votes in the preseason poll and finished third.  Have they been getting the media love that Butler and Detroit have garnered?  No.  But it’s not far off.

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Stopping Alex Young

He’s long. He’s strong.  He’s fast. He’s scoring in every way imaginable.  He’s on his way to the NBA. No player that the Panthers have seen in this young season can stack up to him.

His name is Alex Young. And he’s damn near impossible to stop.

Young failed to score ten points in a game once last season.

In two games this season, Young is averaging 19.5 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game.  He is skilled, but his game is all about pure athleticism.

A hometown kid who didn’t get much in the way of recruitment, Young was picked up by IUPUI coach Ron Hunter and groomed to be the successor in a long line of tall wing guard/forwards who are dynamic scorers.

A dynamic scorer he became.  Since coming to the Jaguars, Young has increased his production from 11 to 18 to 19 points per game.  With 20 points in his first game and 19 Tuesday night against UALR, it looks as though Young is on his way towards doing it again.

Some teams have had success against him.  In a game against Oral Roberts last season, he was held to just six points on 3-for-12 shooting. While he didn’t score under ten points the rest of the season, the Jaguars lost many games.

The simple fact is that Young is going to get his.  But to beat the Jaguars, you need to slow him down.  Decrease his efficiency – force him to get 20 points on 8 of 20 shooting instead of 8 of 13.  Force him to miss a lot of shots and you make the Jaguars far less efficient.

How do you do that?  Confusion.  The good thing about the Panthers is that there are a lot of players on the program that can theoretically defend Young.

On the perimeter, players like Kaylon Williams, Ryan Allen and Paris Gulley can be used on a rotation, cutting out his outside shot.  They can’t keep him covered by themselves; they are not nearly long enough to alter his shot as he drives to the hole.

Milwaukee will need to funnel Young into the waiting arms of our taller defenders.

Perhaps Young’s strongest part of his game is that ability to drive the lane.  Many of his points are scored while he is taking the ball to the hole.  His speed helps him blow past slower defenders, and his length gets him past most guards who have trouble blocking his shots.

What Milwaukee will have to do to minimize his driving ability is two things.  First, they need to cut off the driving lanes that give him a direct line to the basket.  If he doesn’t have open space to lay in the easy buckets, he’ll have to work harder at his shots.  The second part is funneling him directly to the height of the team – Kyle Kelm and Demetrius Harris have the height and blocking ability to get in his face and force him to miss shots.  Maybe they won’t get a block every time down the floor, but they’ll be able to alter enough shots for him to become inefficient, thus giving the Panthers more possessions.

So look for the Panthers to take advantage of all that length in trying to stop Young from destroying their defense.  If they don’t, you’re going to have a long night at the Cell.