By Emmett Golden
The Wolstein Center has seen some great basketball this year. Most of the time, it’s only a quarter-full, with die-hard Viking fans, a few students, and a hand full of reporters. Last night was different. There were over 4,500 in attendance and the basketball wasn’t so good.
The building was ready to rock at the opening tip, then Cleveland State got punched in the mouth. Valparaiso forward Ryan Broekhoff put everyone on notice. This year, the Horizon League MVP belongs to him. Broekhoff was perfect from the field in the first half (4-of-4, all three pointers). He finished with a game-high 24 points and 10 rebounds.
While everything Valpo shot seemingly swished through the basket, the Vikings couldn’t hit anything. Cleveland State missed 9 lay-ups in the first half alone.
CSU entered shooting over 50% in five of its last six games. It struggled to shoot 26% from the field last night.
The immediate reaction from most was, “Here we go again.” That sentiment is justified to a certain extent. Last year, when this team had chances to capture the attention of this city, they fumbled away each opportunity.
This year is different. Last night’s game was not a case of, “the stage being too big.” Cleveland State has won big games in front of big crowds this year -- on the road at Vandy, Butler and Youngstown State. Also, at home against Akron and St. Bonaventure. CSU took both of those games in exciting fashion, with last second 3s.
Last night was a case of Valpo having a point to prove, in combination with a horrible shooting night for Cleveland State.
Will some of those 4,500 people return? That’s a tough question to answer. These kids want people to come to their games. Every time they get a big crowd, they are not only playing the opposing team, but they are also playing with the fear of, “If we don’t win, they won’t come back.”
The only thing CSU can do is file this one away and get ready to face Butler on Saturday. Hopefully they will come back strong.
Follow Emmett Golden on Twitter @EGoldie80 and listen to Emmett, Will Burge and Jerod Cherry from 7-9 p.m. weekdays on Three Deep on ESPN 850, WKNR.
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