Archive for January, 2010

Phantoms Cody Strang Named USHL Player Of The Week

Cody Strang was named the Reebok USHL Offensive Player of The Week.  Strang recorded the first hat trick in Youngstown Phantoms history against Team USA in a 7-3 triumph.  More impressively, the three goals were scored consecutively. 

Strang has already signed the magic letter to play at The University of Wisconsin following the season.  Strang was dominant in high school and scored 39 goals in his senior year.  Strang is only 19-years-old and seems to have a bright future in the sport of hockey.

Wrist injuries plagued Strang for the early part of the Youngstown Phantoms season and he could be found running video equipment in the pressbox.  Once the wrist started to heal, Strang started resuming his normal practice routines and after a week he was dressed and playing again.  “The wrirst still hurts sometimes.  I am playing through it and it is getting better”, remarked Strang after a recent game.

Look for Strang to continue his offensive run if the Phantoms will be able to make any kind of push down the stretch.

Congratulations Cody Strang!

Phantoms “Stampeded” By Sioux Falls, 8-1

The Harlem Globetrotters were set to share their magic with Youngstown at The Covelli Centre  on Saturday.  Somehow the script was flipped and the Youngstown Phantoms took on the role of the Washington Generals, the team that was the patsy forced to play the Globetrotters and look foolish in losing badly.  Sioux Falls and Youngstown did their absolute best to provide a Globetrotters vs Generals matchup a night early as the Stampede pounded the Phantoms, 8-1, in front of a large crowd. 

The pregame fireworks left plenty of smoke.  Before the smoke could even clear, Sioux Falls scored a goal. Jacob Johnstone beat Matt Mahalak (see top picture) to a rebound and knocked the puck home to give the visitors the lead at the 16:52 mark.  The Stampede’s Michael Voran and Matt Zarbo picked up assists.

With a small cloud still lingering over the ice, like something from a Charlie Brown Halloween Special, Sioux Falls picked up a second goal. At 14:19 of the first, Voran connected with assists from Matt Linblad and Clark Cristofoli, and the fireworks were just starting.

With 9:39 left in the first period, Johnstone scored his eleventh goal of the season to put the Stampede up 3-0.  Matt Bailey picked up the assist.

Just 29 seconds later, the Stampede continued the offensive onslaught.  The larger-than-usual crowd was silenced as their hometown Phantoms looked totally outclassed in the early going and trailed this one 4-0. Coach Bob Mainhardt tried a switch between the pipes, switching to Jordan Tibbet, as Mahalak was ineffective.  The fourth goal was scored by Anthony Day with assists from Ryan Misiak and George Michalke.

Sioux Falls connected for a powerplay goal with 2:47 remaining.  Conor Allen connected on a nice pass from Johnstone who recorded his third point of the first period.  The five goals scored against the Phantoms were a season high.

The first period would mercifully come to a close with Youngstown trailing Sioux Falls, 5-0. The Phantoms were outshot 14-5 and of the 14 Sioux Falls shots, better than 33% resulted in goals.

Sioux Falls picked up where they left off to start the second period as Day picked up his second goal of the game, a powerplay chance.  The goal was scored with 16:43 left in the second period and Michalke and Chad Ruhwedel gathered a point each for assists.  With 5:26 the Stampede got their seventh unanswered goal.   Jamie Oleksiak recorded his first of the season, assisted by Linblad.


Another powerplay goal came with 7:24 left in the game.  Sioux Falls used only five seconds of a man advantage to find the net.  Linblad and Voran piled up their stats with an assist each. 8-0 Stampede.

Luke Eibler got the Phantoms on the scoreboard and broke up the shutout bid of Stampete Goaltender Clay Witt with 2:22 left in the game.  Adam Berkle nabbed an assist on the goal which made the score 8-1.  The Phantoms were outshot 27-21 but the shots on goal were not the difference, the pace and play went the way of Sioux Falls.

After the game, a dejected Coach Mainhardt said this one hurt.  “There will be some changes.  I did not have these guys prepared tonight.  I have been cutting corners as I coach and try to make exceptions and that never works out well, so I have learned a pretty important lesson here this season.”

The Phantoms get another crack at Sioux Falls on Sunday, the puck drops at 3:00 PM, see you there!

YSU Breaks Home Losing Streak With 70-57 Triumph Over UNCC

The casual college basketball fan would see that North Carolina Central had four wins and 17 losses coming into Youngstown State. What the casual basketball fan does not know is that this NCC team has lost to North Carolina, Iowa, Indiana, Miami (Fl), SMU, Ball State, Air Force, and Virginia Tech.

The Penguins had a balanced scoring attack and took good shots in getting by UNCC, 70-57.  The win snaps a four-game losing streak, but according to Sirlester Martin, the victory goes further than that.  “It felt good to get the win but it really helps us get ready for a league game this weekend.”

Youngstown State (8-12) did the right things according to their Coach, Jerry Slocum“We did the things you have to do to win basketball games.  When they cut it to seven, I thought we were patient and kept our composure.  We made free throws at important times in the game, and those are things you have to do to win.”

Dan Boudler tied things up at 15 with 11:51 left to go in the first half when he tipped in a partially tipped Vytas Sulskis shot. On the next possession, Sulskis hit a three that wasn’t tipped as the Penguins took an 18-15 lead with 9:41 remaining in the half, triggering an 11-0 Penguins run that would span over the next three plus minutes.

At the half, Youngstown State held a 32-21 lead.  Sulskis finished the first half leading the Penguins in scoring with eight points. Nick Chasten finished the first half leading all scorers with 11 of his teams 21 points.

With 11:28 remaining in the contest, YSU maintained their double-digit lead at 46-36.  Sulskis buried a three with the shot clock near zero giving the hometown the feeling that things were clicking.  Coach Slocum picked up a technical foul when he argued that an Eagles defender hit the rim.  Moments later, CJ Wilkerson hit a jumper to cut the Penguins lead to 49-42.

DeAndre Mays connected for three after the lead had been cut to four points to put the Penguins in front, 52-45.  Kelvin Bright was intentionally fouled meaning he got to shoot a pair of free throws and the Penguins retained possession.  Dallas Blocker got in on the action as he hit a pair of free throws to push the YSU lead back to double digits at 55-45 with 7:58 left in regulation.

With 3:44 left in the game, YSU pushed their lead to 64-47 when Sirlester Martin hit a 15-foot jumper.  CJ Wilkerson connected for his eighteenth points of the second half and had 26 in the game, leading all scorers, to keep his Eagles within striking distnace.  YSU thwarted any comeback when Bright hit a nice floating sweep through the paint.

Youngstown State showed good balance and poise in holding on for a 70-57 victory.  Balanced scoring for the Penguins translates to four players with at least 11 points and DeAndre Mays leading the way with 17.  For UNCC, CJ Wilkerson finished the game with 26 points.

Next up for YSU is Cleveland State on Saturday as the Penguins start to see Horizon League opponents for the second time.  Tip-off is set for 4:00 and the game can be heard on AM-570 with Robb Schmidt calling the action.

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YSU Lady Penguin Profiles: Macey Nortey

Macey Nortey is the first player ever recruited by Coach Cindy Martin.  Martin and her staff have a good eye for talent, which will be better proven over the next couple of seasons as these recruits gain experience.  Nortey, who constantly hustles, was leading the Horizon League in assists for a good part of the season.  It is hard not to root for a 5’3″ spark plug of energy who still maintains a frequent smile off of the court despite the winless season.  It surely isn’t apathy that she is expressing, it is just who she is.

Paneech:  Doing a bit of research, I noticed you were born in Toronto.  You now call California home, so are you an American citizen?

Nortey:  I am not an American citizen and I still have my Canadian citizenship.  Maybe when I am done with school, I will apply for dual-citizenship. 

Paneech:  Anyone who comes from California to Youngstown has to hate this weather.

Nortey:  I love cold weather and don’t like the heat very much.  I was actually upset that it wasn’t very cold through most of January.  There are three of us from California on the team,  Brandi [Brown] and Maryum [Jenkins] both live about an hour from me in California.  We will be hanging out alot over the next few years.  Really the biggest difference between here and Cali is that everything in Cali is fast.  Here, everything is so much more mellow.

Paneech:  How did you end up at Youngstown State and what did it feel like being the first ever recruit of Coach Martin?

Nortey:  They came and found me.  My mentor was actually very good friends with Coach Martin, so they connected with each other and came to see me in Long Beach.  I was not recruited by any California schools and was considering going the junior college route, but luckily, I ended up here.  I was Coach Martins first recruit.  (At this point I couldn’t resist asking…  Do you think she recruited you because she needed someone shorter than her to coach?-Nortey laughed for a minute).  Actually, with my shoes on I am 5’3″, without them, I am only 5’1″, but you never see me on the court without my shoes on, so technically, I am 5’3″.

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Paneech:  Your assist numbers have dropped a little.  What can you do to reclaim your place atop the league in that category?

Nortey:  I have gotten away from the things I was doing at the beginning of the year and I need to get back to doing them.  I know that I need to set my teammates up and I have really been working on that in practice this week.  I’m a passer and I like to set people up. 

Paneech:  You have three more years, when can we expect this losing streak to end?  How much of losing comes from having virtually no bench?

Nortey:  It is going to end alot sooner than later.  In fact, I really feel like this upcoming road trip that we have got it.  They can’t guard our bigs and anything can happen on any given night.  With a short bench, when you pick up a foul, you can still play “D”, but you have to watch.  You can’t really have a ‘sneak attack’.  It’s tough and we have learned.  Obviously our results are not what we want, but we have learned plenty.

Paneech:  How is it working out when you go on the road for a few days and have to miss classes?  Are the teachers accomodating or do they make it tough on you?

Nortey:  Personally, my teachers have been really cool with it.  I recently had to switch one of my classes and have only actually been to that class once.  The professor has done a great job of keeping me informed through e-mails, we are e-mailing back and forth and she sends me the work I need to do.  Overall, the professors here are really cool about the situation and getting us our work.  As a student, you have to stay on top of it, you can’t just procrastinate and say, ‘I’ll do it when I get back’.

Paneech:  Walk me through a day from the time you wake up until you go to sleep.

Nortey:  I wake up, brush my teeth, grab a bite to eat and head out for class and you can’t be late.  I sit through my morning classes for about three hours, come to treatment after class if I need it, then I grab lunch.  After lunch is films, and then practice.  Stretch, practice, and if we do not do a study hall, I go home and do my homework.  I watch some TV, eat dinner somewhere and then go to sleep.  On a good night, I will go to sleep around 10.

 

One Word Answers

Biggest Phobia:  Being trapped under something.

Favorite Breakfast Cereal:  Frosted Flakes.

Best Show On Television:  Keeping Up With The Kardashians.

Worst Habit:  Never Listening To My Mom’s Voicemails.

Favorite WNBA/NBA Player:  Steve Nash.

Who Wins The Super Bowl:  Saints.  :)

What Other Sports Do You Watch:  Tennis and Soccer.  I think the Williams Sisters will square off in Australia with Venus winning.

Favorite Toy As A Child:  My Jeep car.

Favorite Fast Food:  Burger King since they don’t have Wing Stop here. 

Favorite Holiday:  Christmas.

Favorite Drink:  Chocolate Yoohoo.

Would you rather live in Youngstown, Canada, or California?  Can I pick all three?

 

YSU Basketball Profiles: Dallas Blocker

Courage. It is a word that bends many different ways.  Cancer. It is a word that doesn’t show mercy and sometimes has a long and tragic meaning.  Don’t get me wrong, plenty of courageous people have lost battles with cancer and paid with their lives.  Dallas Blocker is one of the courageous who survived and to hear his story weakened me.  Mad respect to the big 6’9″ Youngstown State Senior for openly talking about his fight with the evil disease.

Paneech: Talk to me about the battle you had with cancer.

Blocker: As of right now, I am free of it.  At first it was rough because you are not used to it.  You think, ‘old people get cancer’ not people who are 21 years of age, so it really hit hard at first.  I was diagnosed with testicular cancer.  I went through four rounds of chemotherapy and I would go five days a week for about six hours a day.  I would sit in a chair while they pump stuff into my blood through an IV.  For the first couple of weeks I was fine, and I was functioning as normal.  After that second time, it kind of hit me.  All of my hair started falling out and off of my body, and my energy level went way down.  I was struggling to go up a flight of steps. I was eating real good, I like mexican and spicier foods, but by the third or fourth treatment I could not hold anything down.  I would be with Andy Timko in the Summer, and we would like to go out to eat.  We were just talking about it the other day, he would see me run off to the bathroom and he knew I just couldn’t keep anything down.

Paneech:  Did your fight with cancer give you a different outlook on the life you lead?

Blocker:  Going through what I did, I look at every day as a blessing to be here. Days are more important to me now.  Before all of this, I would just go through life with a ‘who cares about this’ attitude.  Now I am really concentrating on school and my future because I am not going to be playing basketball forever.  I am transitioning to being an adult and will graduate with a degree to teach in a year.  The whole thing has opened me up and made me a more mature person.

Paneech: Using a bad situation to make something positive from can transition to this basketball team you are on.  How does YSU pick itself up and move forward?

Blocker: We [the five seniors] are looking at it as our last chance.  We all have a role on this team and have to buy into Coach Slocum’s system.  Right now, not everyone has bought into the system and we are playing as individuals.  We actually had a meeting after practice where DeAndre Mays stood up and reminded everyone that everyone is starting to fall off and we need to circle the wagons and get back into it.  We have eleven games left in the season and if a team gets hot in this sport at the right time they could go pretty far.  We still believe we can get hot enough to still make it to the NCAA Tournament if we can get going that well.

Paneech: What changes can Coach Slocum make and how do you compete with a team like Butler?

Blocker:  Butler is just an all-around great team.  They are beatable and have their flaws though.  We had them on their backs at times but had a bunch of unforced errors that they took advantage of and that is what they [Butler] do best.  Coach Slocum wears his heart on his sleeve.  You always know where he is at emotionally.  When he is down, he is really down.  He tells us everyday at practice that he is not going to change, and he never does.  He has very good character and I like the attitude he brings to practice.

Paneech: What NBA player do you like?

Blocker: I’m not really a big fan of the NBA, I would much rather watch college basketball.  If I had to pick a player I would say Kevin Garnett because of the way he prides himself as a great defensive player.

Paneech: I have seen a little change on offense where it seems the big guys are getting more chances to score.  What brought that on?

Blocker: I brought that up a couple of weeks ago.  DeAndre [Mays] and Sirlester [Martin] are going to shoot the ball.  After one of them hits a few shots, the defense is going to adjust to them, so why not dump it down in the post.  When we score a couple of times, the defense will adjust again and then we can kick it back out to our pure shooters.

One Word Answers

Favorite Meal Of The Day: Dinner.

Best Fast Food: Taco Bell.

Biggest Phobia: Maybe being claustrophobic, maybe.

Worst Habit: (laughs)  Lying.

Favorite Soft Drink: Dr. Pepper.  Cherry Dr. Pepper is ok too.

What Do You Get On Your Pizza: Meat Lover’s.

Last Book You Read Not For School: The New Moon from the Twilight Series.

The Hardest Thing You Ever Had To Do: Survive Cancer.

Worst Class You Had At YSU: Math for teachers.  I got a B but the content was so boring.

The Biggest World Problem That Needs Fixed: The economy.

Favorite Childhood Toy: My Ultimate Warrior action figures.

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Wisconsin-Green Bay Handles Youngstown State 69-55

Youngstown State University had been struggling all season to maintain consistency. This year, the team has shown signs of being able to hang with anybody, and conversely being error-prone and careless while struggling.  The majority of Sunday afternoon’s game against Wisconsin-Green Bay was the careless version of YSU Basketball. 

Youngstown State fell to 7-12 (2-8 Horizon League) as Green Bay capitalized on poor second half Penguins free throw shooting and handled the Penguins, 69-55. 

“At one point, we missed seven or eight foul shots in a row.  We are playing as bad of basketball as we have played in the last three or four years and it is very diappointing to see us playing with such lifelessness”, was about all Coach Jerry Slocum had to say at the end of this one.

At the 7:48 mark of the first half, the Penguins were caught somewhere in between doing the little things needed to win and not doing the big things well. Green Bay had a 23-17 lead when Kelvin Bright connected from just inside the foul line with a nice fadeaway jumper to cut the lead to three.

With Green Bay over the first half limit, Ashen Ward was fouled grabbing a defensive rebound. Ward swished both ends of a one-and-one to pull the Penguins to a two-point deficit.  Troy Cotton, who had 14 points with 3:51 left in the first half, buried a three to extend the Wisconsin-Green Bay lead to 31-26.  Cotton finished the game with a career-high seven three-pointers.

At halftime, the Phoenix held a 33-30 lead.  Cotton was the overall scoring leader with 14 points.  The Penguins were staying in the game with good free throw shooting (11-14, 78.6%), a luxury they had not enjoyed often this season.

Bryquis Perine was whistled for a technical foul at the 17:39 mark as he and Dallas Blocker were doing a little extra-curricular pushing and shoving while jogging up the court together. The penalty would be insignificant as Mays missed both free throws and a walking call awarded the Phoenix possession to keep the score at 40-36.

Cotton hit another three, his fifth of the game, to stretch the Green Bay lead to 47-40 with 12:25 left in regulation. Rian Pearson hit a layup while being fouled, hit the free throw, and the Penguins suddenly trailed 50-40 in a game they had not held the lead in.

With just under four minutes remaining in the contest, Milwaukee pushed the lead to 16 points at 65-49, their largest lead of the game. Rahmon Fletcher hit a three in the corner to give the Phoenix the increased advantage. The Penguns were really struggling to find solutions to trim the margin as they had gone nearly eight full minutes without a field goal.  As the time clicked away, Green Bay (15-7, 7-3) maintained a comfortable cushion and turned back the Penguins, 69-55.

YSU welcomes non-conference opponent North Carolina Central on Wednesday night for a 7:05 tip-off at the Beeghly Center.

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Milwaukee Beats Youngstown State, 69-59

The lights just seem to project a higher magnitude when the words ESPN are attached to a camera. It is a treat to see Youngstown State play in a nationally televised game. It was also great marketing by the YSU Athletic Department to pack the house using reduced ticket prices. At night’s end, the Penguins could not pull out a victory, falling 69-59 to visiting Milwaukee.

Milwaukee held an 18-13 lead with 7:50 to go in the first half. YSU had earlier tied the game at 13 when DeAndre Mays delivered a perfect alley-oop pass to Kelvin Bright who slammed the pill home to absolutely rock the house.  Beeghly Center had not been that loud since the Kelly Pavlik fight in December.

Ricky Franklin hit a couple of consecutive long-range threes to jump the Milwaukee lead to 24-15 with 6:23 left in the first half. Franklin had already compiled 14 points and the Penguins needed to pay better attention to him.

The Penguins cut a little off of the lead right before the half when Ashen Ward nailed a three. At halftime, Milwaukee held a 31-23 advantage riding the hot hand of Franklin, whose trio of threes was pretty much the difference of a hard-played physical half.  YSU did not have a player with more than five points and shot just 1-10 from long distance.

At halftime, new YSU Football Coach Eric Wolford addressed the packed house promising that Youngstown State Football would be back on the map real soon and enticing the crowd to tailgate before the Spring game. Coach Wolford got a rousing ovation with all of his positive comments and is doing a great job promoting the future of football at YSU, especially the recruitment of local A-list talent.

The Penguins trailed 38-27 with 15:49 left in the game. Trailing by as many as 15, YSU started using a half-court press to rattle Milwaukee into committing a couple of turnovers.  Ashen Ward took the ball the length of the court off of a Milwaukee miss and layed it in as he was fouled. Ward also hit the free throw to cut the lead to 42-34 with 12:22 left in the contest.

DeAndre Mays got the crowd back into the action when he glided through traffic and hit a finger roll to trim Milwaukee’s lead to 45-41 with 7:28 left. Milwaukee went back to it’s most reliable source on offense, and Ricky Franklin again responded with another two points to make it 47-41.

With the Penguins down 50-44 with 4:39 remaining in the game, Mays again drove and scored. After James Eayrs converted for two to build the Milwaukee lead back to seven, Mays hit a three to cut the lead to just four points. Franklin responded again as he hit another three, his fourth, to re-establish the seven point lead at 56-49 with 1:59 left. Franklin finished the game with 21 points, taking high-scoring honors.

The Penguins went into ‘foul mode’  but Milwaukee was making the majority of their tosses from the charity stripe. Conversely, YSU could not score when they had the ball. The end result was a 69-59 Horizon League victory for the visiting team from Milwaukee.

After the game, Coach Jerry Slocum addressed the things that hurt his Penguins.  “We are not the type of team to take 27 three-point shots in a game, we took 20 more shots than they took and they had more turnovers.  We couldn’t make our shots tonight.”

Dallas Blocker had his best all-around performance of the season with eight points and eight rebounds.  Vytas Sulskis also scored 11 points and pulled down nine rebounds.  The Penguins will return to action on Sunday afternoon when they host Green Bay at 2 PM.

YSU Basketball Profiles: Eddie D’Haiti

Eddie D’Haiti has endured plenty in the last few days.  Both of his parents were born in Haiti and he has many relatives and friends who still call the Hispanolia Island  their home.  D’Haiti has had contact with family since the January 12 earthquake which rocked the island and has claimed an estimated 200,000 lives, or 20% of it’s total population.  Relief efforts have been hampered due to aftershocks and difficulty getting to the heart of the disaster.  Meanwhile, back in Youngstown, a worried student-athlete can only pray for the safety and comfort of his own while trying to maintain some semblance of focus on his studies and playing basketball.

Paneech:  In what way are you affiliated with Haiti?

D’Haiti:  My parents are originally from Haiti.  I have a long history of family still living in Haiti as we speak.  From what I understand, everyone came through ok.  My grandmother, and all of my family and friends still there came through it.  It has been difficult to reach everyone back in Haiti because all of the power is down, so it is taking time.  I understand they are doing allright, but how allright are they?  Are they eating?  That kind of stuff.

Paneech:  Do you endorse a charity or a particular type of fund?

D’Haiti:  The easiest charity that I can ask people to get involved with is texting on their phones.  Alot of the carriers like A T & T and Sprint are offering a program where you can text donations, you don’t even have to get off of your couch.

***Ed. Note – By clicking this link, you can also donate used cell phones for recycling in which all proceeds will go to the Haitian relief effort.

Paneech:  Were you born in Haiti?

D’Haiti:  I was born in Orlando, Florida.  My parents were originally from Port-au-Prince and moved to Orlando before I was born.  I was lucky enough to go to Haiti.  Growing up as an American kid visiting Haiti, it was very cultural and fun, now it’s not the same. 

Paneech:  Talk about how you end up leaving Orlando for Youngstown.  It has to be culture shock when you look over your shoulder growing up and see Disney to looking over your shoulder now and seeing where there used to be a bunch of steel mills.

D’Haiti:  I love Orlando to death, it is just a wonderful place.  I felt it was very important to make a change in my life, I wanted to move out of state just to see more of the world.  When I came here on my visit, I really liked the campus.  The people were nice and the coaches were great guys and I wanted to be a part of it.  Youngstown, at least the campus, is a very peaceful place.  I’m really liking it and the people have been so wonderful here.

Paneech:  At the start of the season, the coaches and players of this team took exception to being picked to finish seventh in the Horizon League.  So far the team is playing like the seventh best team in the Horizon League.  What is the hurdle that the team is struggling to get over?

D’Haiti:  Once we can get over the hump, the sky is the limit for us.  I don’t want to say it’s mental or physical.  It seems like we don’t have all of the pieces to the puzzle in place yet.  Once we find those pieces, we can be rolling.  I came into this not physically ready, and that’s what I am working on getting better with right now.  I am learning so much from Dallas Blocker and Dan Boudler every day.

Paneech:  You pass well for a big guy.  Is it something you work on or is it instinct?

D’Haiti:  I believe it is a combination of both.  I like sharing the ball with my teammates, it’s no fun unless we all get some. 

Paneech:  What is the mood of this team right now?

D’Haiti:  We just want it so bad.  We’re not laid back, we definitely want to win badly.  We are just going after it and practice has been so much more intense.  Sometimes when we don’t get it and fall short, we grow as a team.  I don’t think we have the best talent in the Horizon League, but,  I also don’t think there is a team in the conference who wants to win as bad as we do.  There is alot of obvious frustration.  We are going after all of the little things and striving for perfection.

Paneech:  How much attention are you paying to the media coverage of Haiti?

D’Haiti:  I watch it every day, but I can’t watch it for too long because it makes me sick to my stomach.  Honestly, I can only stand watching it for about five minutes a day.  I just talk to my mom who has direct contact and she gives me all of the information as to what is going on. 

 

One Word Answers

Favorite Meal Of The Day:  Dinner. 

Favorite Breakfast Cereal:  Lucky Charms.

Favorite TV Show:  Family Guy.

Favorite Video Game:  I don’t play that much, I have more fun watching Ash [Ashen Ward] and Kelvin [Bright] play against each other.

Biggest Phobia:  Right now, the condition of my loved ones in Haiti.

Worst Habit:  Biting my nails.

Best Class You Have Taken At YSU:  Healthy Lifestyles.

Best Movie Ever Made:  Crash.

Who Was Your Favorite Disney Character Growing Up?  (laughs)  Mickey Mouse.

Who Was Your Favorite Orlando Magic Player?  I was kind of forced to be a Penny [Hardaway] fan.  I had the shoes, Little PennyKevin Garnett is my overall favorite player of all-time.

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Now Deceased Brittany Murphy In A Tears For Fears Video

Having seen this video about 50 times when the song “Closest Thing To Heaven” came out in 2004, I never knew who the girl in the video was.  I just recently was sorry to learn that the “damsel in distress” at sea was Brittany Murphy

Murphy passed away just over a month ago.  Oddly enough, the video is better produced than some of the movies she was in.  Tragically, in the world of music video, she was saved.  In reality, she couldn’t be.

Check out the video, Brittany Murphy at her absolute best!

YSU Lady Penguin Profiles: Rachael Manuel

Rachael Manuel is one of only two Senior players at Youngstown State University.  Times are tough and the win column is bare, but Manuel is making the most of her minutes on and off the court.  The Texas-born Lady Penguin gets it.  She knows that she and her fellow hoopsters are putting forth all they have and she credits her coaches for maintaining a positive outlook.  I recently caught up with Manuel and gained alot of respect for her because of her pleasant demeanor and academic approach.

Paneech:  Tell me about Grayslake, Illinois.

Manuel:  Grayslake is on the Northside of Chicago, actually closer to the Wisconsin border.  I was actually born and raised in Texas and moved to Illinois when I was in seventh grade, which is when I actually started playing basketball.  I go back twice a year, Christmas and Summer.  

Paneech:  Out of high school, you went to Southern Miss. and then transferred to YSU, what went wrong at Southern Miss?

Manuel:  I was happy at Southern Miss, it was a bigger university.  As far as basketball went I was the small fish in a big pond there.  I really wanted to look toward the Horizon League because all of the schools are pretty close to my house and it allowed my parents, who never missed my games, to have a chance to see me play more often.  By coming to a Horizon League school, my parents had the chance to see me almost every single game.

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Paneech:  Tell me about the transition from Tisha Hill to Cindy Martin.

Manuel:  I only played under Coach Hill my redshirt year which meant I could only practice.  There was definitely a difference the next year when Coach Martin took over.  Coach Hill’s last year was very relaxed and laid back, while Coach Martin does things much more uptempo.

Paneech:  How important are your grades to you and why have you chosen Business / Accounting for a major?

Manuel:  I only have three classes left this semester and then I will graduate.  I’m still deciding what to do with it, but ultimately my goal is to work for the IRS, maybe in auditing.  My grades are really important to me, I always strive to get A’s.  Last semester, I had a 3.70 and overall I carry a 3.26, so my grades are important.  Coach Baugher is our academic coach and she has stressed the importance of good grades.  I don’t know where I will end up, it’s still all up in the air on whether I will try to go to grad school or try to get a job right away.

Paneech:  By the record, it has been a tough season.  Obviously a win would be great for this team, but what would it mean to you personally?

Manuel:  Personally, it would mean alot.  We need a win right now.  Everyone keeps trying and keeps pushing but you need the win to build on so that the whole team realizes ‘Yes! We Can!’ and build off of that.  I don’t think anyone on this team is giving up.  I feel a burden on my shoulders as a Senior and because I am playing so many minutes that when it happens, I will feel like I have fulfilled, at least, part of my role with this team.

Paneech:  Do you watch other sports?

Manuel:  I love watching college basketball.  I also love tennis, the Australian Open is going on right now.  I really like [Roger] Federer and [Rafael] Nadal.  I watch alot of sports on television, especially basketball.

Paneech:  What is like to have a birthday (October 30) so close to Halloween ?

Manuel:  It’s great!  Halloween is my favorite holiday.  You get to dress up and eat candy, birthday cake in there too.

Paneech:  What do you think about Jay Leno and what NBC is putting Conan O’Brien through?

Manuel:  I’m so upset because I love Conan O’Brien!  Just the other day, I went out and bought Conan’s 10th Anniversary Special.  I will be so upset if he doesn’t get picked up.

One Word Answers

Best Class Taken At YSU:  Business Calculus.

Biggest Phobia: Heights.

Favorite NFL Team:  Dallas Cowboys.

Worst Habit:  Biting My Nails.

Nicest Thing Anyone Has Ever Done For You:  Some young boy held up a sign at a game and asked me to marry him, it was so cute (laughs).

Favorite Fast Food:   McDonald’s.  Quarter Pounder with Mac Sauce.

Favorite Soft Drink:   Diet Coke.

Favorite TV Show (non-sports):  No Reservations (Anthony Bourdain).

Best Friend On Team:  Kaitlyn March, but I am best friends with all of them.

One Word To Describe Winter:  Dreary.

Favorite Breakfast Cereal:  Lucky Charms.

Best Cartoon Ever Made:  Family Guy.