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Game #2: Cal vs Cleveland State

<p class=txt>Opening Summary; The 1st game is in the books for the 2002-03 Cal Basketball team, and just like the past 5 years…Coach Braun has the Bears 1-0.

That's been one of the many common trends in Berkeley under Ben, in fact in six of his seven seasons at UCB, Coach Braun has guided Cal to a win in their first game of each season. Its extremely important to get off to a great start in College Basketball, and beating the teams you should beat is exactly what it takes to make the NCAA Tournament consistently. 

Game #2 features one of my favorite coaches to watch, the immortal Rollie Massimino…and his Cleveland State Vikings. Most fans remember Rollie so well for his 'Valvano-esque' run to an NCAA Title with Villanova in 1985, but he also coached at UNLV for a short time. One of the most memorable moments I have of Rollie was during his time in Las Vegas, as I happened to catch a game at San Jose State when the top 25 ranked Rebels played the Spartans. SJSU had a long double-digit losing streak against their Big West foe (very similar to the 52 game UCLA-Cal Streak), and that was the night that the Spartans ended it. I believe Massimino was ejected about halfway through, and it was quite the dismissal - ranting, raving, arms flying all over. 

He certainly had passion…

Massimino's Cleveland State team is off to a rough start, and despite already three games…this Saturday's contest with Cal will be the Vikings 1st game at home; Goodman Arena. The Vikings played 3 games in Fort Collins, Colorado at a mini-tournament hosted by Colorado State titled the BCA invitational. They lost the opener to Florida Atlantic, pulled out a win against Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne, and then lost their finale to host Colorado State. In game #4, the Vikings will play Duquesne at Mellon Arena on Wednesday. So that'll be 4 games in the books by the time the Cal game comes along for the Vikings. A likely 1-3 start is obviously not the start that Coach Massimino would have wanted, but nonetheless…that's where they are at.

Lets quickly take a look at CSU's projected starting five, and the rest of their roster;

Projected Starting Lineup: (Returning starters in Bold - 2001-02 Stats) 
G- Jermaine Robinson 6'2 175 Jr (8.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 3.0 apg) 
G- Walt Chavis 5'11 175 So (1.7 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 2.1 apg)
G - Modibo Niakate 6'1, 180 Jr (Sacred Heart HS Paris, France/Hutchinson CC)
F- Andre' Williams 6'5 215 Sr-5th (7.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg) 
F- Tahric Gosley 6'8 220 Sr (7.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.2 bpg) 

Percell Coles 6'2 200 So - (5.9 ppg, 1.8 rpg) 
Pape Badiane 6'11 210 Jr -(4.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.7 bpg)
Jack Higgins 6'6 180 Fr - 2001-02 Medical Redshirt (Schenley HS/Pittsburgh, PA)
Tyler Reynolds 6'9, 235 So - (1.3 ppg, 1.0 rpg)
Jerrod Calhoun 6'3 200 So - (2.5 ppg, 0.8 rpg)
John Rabb 6'11 205 So - (1.5 ppg, 1.6 rpg) 
Pete Ritzema 7'2 280 So - (1.3 ppg, 1.5 rpg)
Jonathan Burge 6'2, 205 Jr - (South HS Cleveland, OH/Lakeland CC)

The one aspect of the CSU Roster that you'll notice right off the bat is the 3-guard Starting Line-up. Coach Massimino has always liked using a smaller group against opponents, even back in his days at Villanova. Overall, the group on the floor this year should know eachother fairly well, as only one newcomer to the 2002-03 Roster will receive any court time whatsoever (Niakate). The five current sophomore's played sparingly together last year, with the exception being the 5'11 PG Walt Chavis. In total, CSU will likely only play 8-9 players against Cal…and that being the first eight or nine you see in the above order. Jermaine Robinson, Tahric Gosley, and offensive sparkplug Percell Coles all played together at powerhouse Simon Gratz HS in Philly as well…the HS alma mater of Rasheed Wallace. You might make the argument that these three are the top players for Coach Massimino too.

The backcourt is led by Robinson, the leading returning scorer for the Vikings from 2001-02. He's a well rounded combo guard, who can shoot, pass, and board adequately. He will lead the team in steals at the end of the year too. 2nd year player Walt Chavis will handle the ball most of the game, basically in an effort to free up Robinson offensively. Niakate has yet to find his role, though he did play a pretty good game against Colorado State in the Vikings 77-63 loss on Nov, 19th. The player to really watch is Percell Coles, one of the trio of Simon Gratz ballers. Coles averaged just under 6 pts a game a year ago, but already went off for 31 pts against IPFW (Indiana-Purdue, Forth Wayne) to include 7 of 9 on three pointers. He's not going to do that everynight, but he can obviously score from behind the arc.

The frontcourt is led by Senior Co-Captain's Andre' Williams & Tahric Gosley. Gosley is perhaps the most athletic post man in the Horizon League this year, though he's off to a very slow start. Williams is the one true wing Rollie has on the team, and he's a quality tweener. You have to like a guy who shot 64% from the floor a year ago. #31 honestly needs to shoot the ball a lot more. Beyond this duo, and the only other player we'll likely see is Pape Badiane…a thin, energetic French National who has improved a lot since his 1st game last year. He was ineligible for the first 8 games last year (in a similar ruling to Amit Tamir's situation), but immediately came in to add some points, rebounds, and blocks. He had a horrible first game against Florida Atlantic, but has bounced back better over the past three games. He's a quality athlete in my opinion. 

Offensively, the Vikings like to get high percentage shots…and that means they shoot only about 10-15 three pointers per game. If the three is falling from Coles though, they might open that up a bit more. CSU doesn't board that well, and they aren't very heady at passing the ball, or free-throw shooting. They are picked to finish dead last in the Horizon League. On the flip side, they screen pretty well…and since its their first home game of the year, we might see some high emotions. CSU Fans are a pretty funny group too, including the entire '' club. When I wrote earlier about Massimimo's passion, I really meant that he 'had' passion…as its all but evaporated now. That's one of the biggest gripes on the board, and the 'Mouse', as Coach Massimino is often called…truly does need to hand over the keys to his office. There are plenty of other issues that CSU fans have had to deal with, including the sensational media story about two former Cleveland State Basketball Players (Damon Stringer & Jamaal Harris) robbing Cleveland Indians pitching phenom and Vallejo Native C.C Sabathia at gunpoint. Stringer (the younger brother of the Minnesota Vikings & Ohio State star offensive tackle Korey Stringer) was a transfer to CSU under Massimino. Needless to say, there's a cloud over the Vikings program that seems as big as Lake Erie itself. If you have the time, check out the famous Gripe Board of Fire Rollie at;

Projected Starting Lineup: (Returning Starters in Bold)
PG- A.J Diggs, 5'9 165 Jr. (3.2 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.5 apg) Top Stories