CLEVELAND — 12 years. The year was 2009. That was the last time Cleveland State's men's basketball team punched a ticket to play in the NCAA Tournament.
Second-year CSU head coach Dennis Gates is hoping to change that. He's already changed so many other aspects of the program.
Gates, 41, was named the Horizon League Coach of the Year on Monday afternoon after his Vikings finished as regular season Horizon League Champions finished the season 16-4 in conference play. When the Horizon League Tournament tips off Thursday night, Cleveland State will be the top seed in the tournament for the first time since joining the league in 1994.
Gates took time on Monday to chat with 3News Sports Anchor Nick Camino about the Vikings' incredible turnaround, his new hardware as Horizon League Coach of the Year, the upcoming conference tournament, the team's goals and March Madness.
Cleveland State, which was picked to finish seventh in the Horizon League at the beginning of the season, won their first regular season conference title since 2011 when Norris Cole was helping lead the Vikings.
CSU will play their first Horizon League Tournament game on Tue., March 2 at the Wolstein Center against the lowest-remaining seed. The Horizon League Tournament semifinals are slated for Mon., March 8 and the tournament title game with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament included will be played Tue., March 9 on ESPN or ESPN2.
The Horizon League Coach of the Year honors for Gates was the second straight season he has won the award.
You can watch the full interview with Coach Gates in the player above or below: