Hoops are High in Ohio
Downtown Cleveland, a giddy scream of “Yahoo!” cuts through the windy, bitter cold night air.
Mere minutes earlier the source of the cheer was storming the floor, bouncing up and down on the hardwood celebrating the upset of a ranked opponent.
Could the exuberance really be the result of a Cleveland State basketball game? The same Cleveland State that has not won 13 games in six seasons?
Somehow Cleveland State defeated the ultra-technical Butler Bulldogs 56-52 in mid-January. The win marks a baker’s dozen for the Vikings and finally woke up the nation’s North Coast residents.
Former Rutgers and Kent State coach Gary Waters leads the Vikings into war now. Of the inordinately large crowd in attendance for the Butler upset, Waters said, “The support was fabulous by the fans. Not only did they come out in numbers, but they didn’t sit on their hands. They brought energy into the arena and it probably would have been a different outcome if they were not here tonight.”
Radio hosts all over the dial were finally pledging allegiance to their alma mater, while the color green peaked its head out from under the states’ scarlet blanket.
College sports are not a local affair in Ohio. It is the “Buckeye State” at long last. The year revolves around Ohio State football. Many would be shocked to hear CSU enrolls 16,245 persons.
It is safe to say the majority of those would declare themselves OSU fans above all else.
A year after Ohio State played in the NCAA Final Four and temporarily hosted 2007 #1 overall draft pick Greg Oden, the state of Ohio has several potential 2008 NCAA teams.
The Mid-American Conference has Akron and Kent State battling for top honors, both Ohio schools.
Dayton and Xavier are looking down upon a heap of Atlantic 10 teams. Dayton has home wins over Pittsburgh and Rhode Island, while Xavier dismantled Virginia and embarrassed Kansas State frosh Michael Beasley.
Even Cincinnati has a resurgent Bearcat group led by second-year coach Mick Cronin. UC picked up two home wins in a peculiar first fortnight for the Big East.
These schools surely will be pulling in the fair-weather fans that left in the tough times. Cleveland State’s attendance has been climbing as the wins mount. Knocking off a Top 15 team clearly benefits the ticket sales.
To starting CSU forward J’Nathan Bullock, “It was a beautiful feeling to have the students rush the floor and have a supporting cast get behind us and push us to victory.”
Throughout Ohio during this proud season, several more floors stand to be trampled upon by the exuberant masses.