MIAMI -- It was the kind of block that ends games long before the clock strikes zero. It began with a slap of palm on leather. It continued with a scream.
Six-foot-10 Wake Forest forward
With about 13 minutes remaining Friday, fourth-seeded Wake had sliced Cleveland State's lead to five from 17. The block, combined with the circumstances, should have crushed the upset hopes of the 13th-seeded Vikings. But instead of wilting, Jackson scanned the defense. He made eye contact with guard
Jackson had delivered a message.
After that, Cleveland State cruised to an 84-69 win (
At Cleveland State, they don't call fouls at practice. Coach
"Every practice," guard
During rebounding drills, boundary lines do not exist. If the ball bounces into the stands, go get it -- even if you have to crawl over the bodies of your teammates.
"We almost lost a guy the other day," Waters said, recounting the tale of freshman guard
When two opposing players grapple for the ball, no one races in to call a jump ball. "We let 'em wrestle for it," said Waters, who added that matches can last as long as 30 seconds.
"Coach Gee will tell you to rub some dirt on it," forward
Bullock has heard those words before. The 6-foot-5, 240-pounder played every skill position on offense and linebacker on defense at Northern High in Flint, Mich. He said he received interest from Notre Dame and much of the Big Ten, where football coaches saw him as a rush end. In fact, after Cleveland State fired Waters' predecessor,
Waters convinced him to stay. "He can be very persuasive," said Bullock, who scored 21 points and grabbed six rebounds Friday against a Wake frontline that went 6-9 (
At Cleveland State, the little guys are tough, too. Jackson, the 6-3 St. John's transfer, fought his way to 19 points and seven rebounds Friday. Cole set the tone during Monday's practice, when, before coaches could hand out assignments, he volunteered to guard high-scoring guard
When Cole volunteered, Waters smiled that gap-toothed smile. Then he unleashed the Vikings for another round of rugby on the practice court. Gee made sure nobody cried, until the Demon Deacons did on Friday.
"When you really make toughness and intensity part of your battle repertoire," Gee said, "sooner or later, somebody's going to give in."