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.
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.