Led by the selection of senior guard Norris Cole to the pre-season all-league squad, Cleveland State has been chosen to finish third in the 2010-2011 Horizon League men’s basketball race.
The vote was a result of ballots from head coaches, sports information directors and select media.
“I have said all along that the league will be very competitive this year,” said CSU head coach Gary Waters. “I think any team picked from one to sixth have the ability to finish at the top of the pack,” Waters continued, speaking of the poll results.
“Butler is obviously the front runer this seaon and I’m excited about the potential that we have to be right in the mix.”
Led by Butler, which lost a 61-59 decision to Duke in the NCAA title game, the rest of the predicted order of finish is (2) Detroit; (3) Cleveland State; (4) Valparaiso; (5) Milwaukee; (6) Wright State; (7) Green Bay; (8) Loyola; (9) Illinois-Chicago; and (10) Youngstown State.
Butler was the unanimous choice, being selected first on all 48 ballots. Detroit (381) finished five points ahead of Cleveland State (376) while Valparaiso (312) was a distant fourth.
Cole, a 6-2 senior guard from Dayton, is joined on the pre-season all-league team by Butler’s Matt Howard, and Shelvin Mack, Green Bay’s Rahmon Fletcher and Valparaiso’s Brandon Wood wiht Mack given the nod for player of the year.
Cole, who averaged 16.3 points and 4.4 assists along with 1.8 steals a game with a .799 free throw shooting percentage last season, enters his senior year with 1,198 points, good for 14th on the CSU career scoring list and has played in 70 consecutive games, which ranks seventh in Viking history.
“Norris has been a pillar within our program the past several seasons and his leadership and direction is the exact model for success,” Waters said.
“He is the type of player every coach would love to have on their team,” Waters said of his senior guard.
“I believe he is ready to lead this team back to success.”
The Vikings, who host a Nov. 8 exhibition game with Baldwin-Wallace, open the regular season with the first of four consecutive home games with a Nov. 12 game against Bryant as part of the World Vision Classic.
The event has CSU playing at home Nov. 13 against Iona, Nov. 14 against Kent State and Nov. 15 against Urbana.
Cleveland State will serve as one of the hosts to second and third round NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament games March 18-20 at Quicken Loans Arena. Tickets for those games involving eight teams are available through the NCAA or Cleveland State Web sites.