Archive for February, 2010

Kaitlyn March Ties YSU Record for Threes In Loss To Detroit


Kaitlyn March came into her Senior Day game with only 45 points on the season.  Hampered by shin injuries, her playing time was often limited to five minutes per half for a majority of the year.  March came out firing a career-high 21 points, and tied the Youngstown State record for threes in a game with seven,  but it would not be enough as the Lady Penguins dropped to 0-27 on the season with an 80-62 setback in the final home game of the season.  The other Senior, Rachel Manuel, has played hard and improved throughout the season providing valuable minutes on a short-stacked team.  The two veterans played in their final home game Saturday and are pictured above with family.

On Saturday, March had 12 points on 4-4 three-point shooting, a career best, in the first twelve minutes of the game. Despite the early heroics, YSU trailed with 7:51 left in the game, 20-18, against a very good Detroit team.

Detroit (15-13, 13-4) surged forward to take a 30-22 lead when Tayler Langham drove and was fouled to complete a three-point play with 4:51 left in the first half.  Detroit used a 17-4 run to climb to a 39-22 lead.  March nailed another three giving her 15 points in the first half, a career-high.  At the half, Detroit held a 41-25 lead.

The difference in the first half was the 20 points that Detroit cashed in off of 13 YSU turnovers.

Detroit pushed the lead to 51-34 with 15:11 left in the game.  Yar Shayok beat everyone back to the Titans basket and received a long outlet pass to get the layup. Shayok had eight points, all in the second half.

YSU cut the Detroit lead to 10 at 59-49, with 10:56 left in the game.  Kaitlyn March hit a couple more threes, giving her seven for the game and 21 points, March was off the hook.  Brandi Brown (pictured) posted her 13th double-double of the season when she yanked down her tenth rebound with 8:57 left in the game. Brown finished the game with 14 rebounds and 19 points.

Regardless of the outcome, Youngstown State showed tremendous heart in this game and played like anything but an 0-27 team.

With 2:09 left in the game, the Penguins were down 73-61.  March saved all of her magic for Senior Day. The other Senior, Rachel Manuel deserved props for her tireless efforts as well.  Voted “most-improved” player, Manuel has been an obstruction in the paint for opposing teams. Congratulations to both ladies and wishes of success for their futures.

Detroit Handles Youngstown State, 62-54

The season that Youngstown State started with so much promise came to an anti-climatic conclusion as the Penguins struggled to find their stride in a 62-54 loss to Detroit.  YSU celebrated Senior Day for players and cheerleaders before the game.  The festivities were short-lived as the Penguins trailed the Titans for most of the game.

Detroit was controlling the post game early.  With 11:27 left in the first half, Vytas Sulskis hit a pair of free throws to cut the Titans lead to 11-10.  Detroit’s Donovan Foster drove and nailed a soft kiss off of the glass to vault Detroit back to a three-point lead.

With 3:32 left in the opening half and Detroit holding a 25-19 lead, Ashen Ward buried a three for the Penguins.  After a Titan bucket, DeAndre Mays drew contact on his way to the hoop.  Mays would hit the pair of charity tosses to cut the lead to 27-24.  Thomas Kennedy was tough for Detroit in the first half with nine points as the Titans held a 31-26 lead at the intermission.  Vytas Sulskis was high-point man for Youngstown State with seven.

Kelvin Bright had a thunderous right-handed slam off of a nice feed from Mays to pull Youngstown State to within four at 41-37.  Detroit would score the next five points of the game to open up a nine-point lead at 46-37 with some help from Penguin turnovers.

With 8:57 to go in the game, Detroit jumped out to a 15-point lead.  Bright drove the lane and hit the floating finger roll to cut it to 13.  Youngstown State had a couple of good defensive possessions.  In one instance, Xavier Keeling was driving and released a prayer in the paint as he was falling that happened to go in.  On the next possession, Detroit got a bad-angle shot off with two seconds on the shotclock that didn’t hit anything.  As bad luck would have it, a Titan was right there to catch and release a layup off of a rebound as the 35-second clock expired.  Coach Slocum just threw his arms in there and his body language would say ‘what do we have to do’.

More bad luck for Youngstown State as Detroit had the worst free-throw percentage in the Horizon League coming into the game but were 17-20 through the first three quarters of the game, and finished 22-32.

With 3:37 left in the contest, Detroit had a commanding 57-43 lead in which everything seemed to be going their way.  Too much Detroit on this day as YSU bowed 62-54.

DeAndre Mays paced the Penguins with 13 points in his final Beeghly Center YSU home game.  Kelvin Bright chipped in with 11.  Mays (pictured) talked about his last home game.  “I wish it didn’t go down like this, but we have to make a push to do well in the tournament.” 

Detroit was sparked by Kennedy who finished the game with 15. With 32 trips to the free throw line, it is hard to compensate when your team only has fourteen chances, and that, combined with sloppy play spelled doom for the Penguins.

Coach Jerry Slocum had mixed emotions about Tuesday’s upcoming Horizon League Tournament game with Green Bay.  “We did not play very good today.  That [Detroit] is probably the hardest card in the league for us to matchup with because they are so big, just not good size matchups at all for us.”  Pertaining to what the Penguins could take with them into the conference tournament, Slocum reminded all, “The four games before this we battled with Butler, lost to a hot Valpo team, and lost two games at the buzzard to Wright State and UC Riverside.”

Senior Rebecca Sturgiss (above) cheers her last game on Senior Day.  Senior basketball players DeAndre Mays, Sirlester Martin, Kelvin Bright, Zack Rebillot, and Dallas Blocker played in their final home contest.  The men will travel North to face Green Bay in the opening round of the Horizon League Tournament on Tuesday night.  Good luck to all Seniors affiliated with a very well-run program.

Snakebitten Penguins Drop Nailbiter To Wright State, 76-73

Snakebitten.  It is a word often used to associate a series of events that seem to be going positively, but end up negative, aka, the worst luck.  When asked, after Youngsown State’s 76-73 loss to Wright State, if his team was snakebitten, all Coach Jerry Slocum could do was ask a question back.  “Do you think?” 

Vytas Sulskis pondered the question a little deeper.  “It is difficult to deal with losing so many close games.  I don’t know what’s going on, it’s like we did something bad to somebody.”

Youngstown State has been tough, but has nothing to show for it over their last four games, all losses, by a total of nine points.  Teams can sweat their way through these nailbiters against YSU, but be guaranteed that there isn’t a team in the Horizon League who wants to draw the Penguins in the upcoming conference tournament.

Thursday night, it was Troy Tabler, with half a second left, throwing up a prayer from the corner, with a hand in his face to extend YSU’s misery.  The Penguins will use these close losses as motivation.  In all likelihood, Wright State will be the #2 seed in the tournament.  YSU also played Butler tough.  Everyone knows they can hang, nobody wants to see the Penguins, who have yet to put together a full 40 minute effort this season.

Wright State jumped out to an early lead but Youngstown State went up 8-7 with seven minutes gone. Vytas Sulskis showcased his defensive skills as he pinned an attempted Raiders layup against the backboard for a nice block.

The Raiders jumped out to a 15-10 lead with 11:12 remaining in the first half.  Dallas Blocker, who played a good portion of the second half with a bleeding nose,  got a hard-earned bucket on an offensive rebound and putback to trim the deficit to three.

Todd Brown rattled off five straight points for the Raiders to bolster their lead to 22-19 with 7:58 remaining in the opening half.  Sirlester Martin, who had been struggling, showed signs of a big game when he first hit a baseline jumper and later hit a layup while fouled.  It was Martin’s first successful free throw in six games.  Martin then nailed a three with just over five minutes remaining in the half to give YSU their first lead of the game at 24-22.

YSU upped their lead to 32-23 on a Zack Rebillot jumper.  Ashen Ward nailed a three with 2:09 left putting YSU ahead 35-23. The Penguins played up to thier capabilities on both ends of the court in what may have been their most complete stretch in a Horizon League game all season.

Wright State (19-10, 12-6) battled back from down twelve to down three using a 9-0 run to close out the first half.  At intermission, YSU was in front, 35-32, and squandered their huge margin.  Martin paced YSU with 14 first half points and Ward chipped in with ten.  Wright State got nine points apiece from Brown and Vaughn Duggins.

YSU held a 49-43 lead with 13:49 left in the game.  Ward hit a pair of free throws to give him 12 points for the game, a career high.  Sulskis scored in consecutive trips on offense for the Penguins who maintained a slight lead at 53-51 with 11:07 left in the game.

Wright State nabbed their first lead of the second half as Troy Tabler nailed a three to put the Raiders up by a point.  Martin hit a bucket for the Penguins to reclaim the lead, but the way the Penguins were playing late in close games, more than a one point lead would be a blessing.

Wright State came into the game as the best free throw shooting team in the league but struggled from the line going 13-21 as Brown missed a pair with 3:46 left in the game which opened the door for YSU.  Sulskis took an inbounds pass to make a layup and give the Penguins a short-lived lead.  Brown atoned for his lackluster efforts at the line when he stole the ball, drove half the court and slammed the Raiders into a 68-64 lead with 2:57 left in the game.

With the Raiders in front, 70-66, and 1:23 left, DeAndre Mays hit a pair of free throws to cut the lead to 70-68. Wright State’s Ronnie Thomas was fouled after gathering an offensive rebound, but Wright State continued to kill themselves at the line as he missed both.  On the rebound of the second miss, Sulskis was fouled and hit both to tie the game at 70.  With the rebound, Sulskis posted a double-double, his second of the year.

Duggins buried a pair of clutch free throws with 43 seconds left to make it a 72-70 advantage for the visitors from Dayton.  Mays drew a foul with 37 seconds left and hit one of two.  Tabler was fouled for the Raiders with 28 seconds left, where he hit one of two to raise the lead back to two.  Sulskis answered with his fifteenth point to tie the game.

Troy Tabler then launched his game-winning prayer and threw up a high-arcing desperation three that found a way in.  Another late dagger which sent the Penguins to another close defeat, losing their last four by a total of nine heartbreaking points.

Coach Slocum commented on the devastating loss.  “They shot 32 free throws and we only shot 18 in our house.  Our kids played very hard and have been fighting every game over the past three weeks.  They have to keep their pride.”

Wright State Ladies Defeat Youngstown State, 57-38

After a 57-38 loss to Wright State on Thursday, Youngstown State Coach Cindy Martin and her staff (pictured), who I still feel will prove worthy in the end, scraped for positives.  “Wright State executed their gameplan tonight.  I am proud of the effort we had on defense, but we turned the ball over too many times and missed layups, I think we beat ourselves a little”, declared Coach Martin after the loss.

Turnovers plagued Martin’s Penguins, but the points off of those turnovers killed any chance YSU had to end their season-long 26 game skid. 

Wright State held a 18-10 lead with 9:07 left in the first half.  The Raiders were taking better shots than the Penguins in the early going.  The higher percentage shots were mainly layups and short jumpers. Youngstown State, conversely, was unsuccessful in getting the ball to Brandi Brown in the post.

The Raiders upped their margin to ten points at 28-18 with 3:47 left in the first half.  Macey Nortey hit a nice baseline jumper to cut into the Raider lead.  However, the Penguins committed 13 first-half turnovers. Off of those miscues, Wright State held a 16-0 advantage in points off of turnovers.

With 10:39 left in the game, Kenya Middlebrooks hit a three which cut the Wright State lead to 14, at 44-30.  Both teams struggled on offense over the next six minutes.  With 4:21 remaining, YSU trailed 49-33.

Wright State, only dressing seven players, lost 6’1″ Molly Fox with just over four minutes left in the game. Boki Dimitrov hit a three to make it 52-36.  LaShawna Thomas picked up the slack for Wright State, scoring three consecutive baskets and keeping the margin comfortably in the double-digits for the Raiders.

Youngstown State could only muster one point off of 14 Wright State turnovers.  Wright State, on the other hand, finished with 21 points off of 19 YSU errors, the difference in the game.

Wright State 57, YSU 38, for a final as the Penguins dropped to 0-26 and just cant seem to knock the monkey off of their backs.

Saturday will be the last attempt at home as Youngstown State welcomes Detroit, tipoff for that contest is set for 4:35, or a half-hour after the men’s game in the Senior Day doubleheader.

Spring Training…Amen

With 2010 being an Olympic year, the wait may have seemed a bit bridged.  Unfortunately, the novelty of watching curling is quickly growing old.  Baseball is right around the corner, some teams have their full rosters in camp already, and it couldn’t come any sooner.

Unfortunately, I still have a bitter taste in my mouth dating back to last season.  The New York Yankees finally made good on some of their high-dollar investments and cashed in on baseball’s biggest prize.  The Yankees bullying little teams that cry poverty doesn’t bother me like it used to.

Take Pittsburgh for example.  The Pirates have not won a thing, or even had a winning season in sixteen years, longest run of that style in history.  Management for the Pirates would dupe people into thinking that poor small market teams couldn’t afford to pay their players, hence pinstripes.  I don’t buy it anymore.

Based on profit percentage, Pittsburgh has been in the Top-10 teams for showing a profit about half of their sixteen years of futility.  Beautiful ballpark, horrible management.  Unfortunately, horrible management is eating at the finest steakhouses they can find.  Defy me.  Put a winning product out there.  You want to sell season tickets?  Assemble a team for a whole season.  I would have sued last year if I owned a Pittsburgh Pirates season ticket package.  Trade half the team for money and a few prospects, give me half my money back.

Cleveland seems to be catching on with the “greedy owner” theory.  They dumped everyone… do they even have a catcher in camp?  Big free agent signing of Russell Branyan?  Wow.  Things have changed in Cleveland, at least philosophically.

Fantasy baseball is by far the best of all fantasy sports.  As a baseball fantasy owner, you have daily work to see who is starting, who is benched, and hustling to meet the first-pitch deadlines.  Football is good too, but anyone can wake up hungover on a Sunday morning and see that Tony Gonzalez has a bye, so he should not be in the starting lineup.  Total daily involvement as a fantasy sport has kept baseball afloat through a dark period, now the sport needs to strengthen up (no hidden meaning there).

The itch is here.  Play Ball!

Youngstown State “Bracket-Busted” By UC Riverside, 62-60

In the Grapes of Wrath, the Joad family went West in hopes of finding a way to prosper during tough times.  Youngstown State found themselves in that role Saturday night, as they went West in hopes of finding a way to prosper during tough times. 

Unfortunately, Youngstown State ended up losing their BracketBuster contest against UC Riverside, 62-60, in a real thriller.  Trailing by as many as 11 points, the Penguins rallied in the second half to tie the game at 60 on a Vytas Sulskis jumper with just 24 seconds to play.

UC Riverside’s Lateef McMullan took a shot with three seconds left that missed the mark.  David Chavarria grabbed the offensive board and hit a jumper just before the buzzard to boost the Highlanders (11-15) past the Penguins (8-19).

Kyle Austin took high scoring honors for UC Riverside with 13 points.  Vytas Sulskis (pictured) was the only Penguin to hit double digits and finished with 18 points for Youngstown State.

Coach Jerry Slocum and his Penguins have been so close but cannot seem to find the right combination of artillery to break through for a win.  YSU has lost their last three games by a total of six points.

Omaha Beats Youngstown Phantoms, At Least On The Scoreboard

Good teams find ways to win games.  Omaha is a good team atop the Western Division standings of the USHL.  Despite being outplayed and outhit for a majority of Saturday night’s game by the Youngstown Phantoms, the team that knew how to win managed to do just that, win.

The Phantoms got on the scoreboard first at the 10:35 mark of the first period as Brett Gensler (pictured above) got his 13th of the season.  Gensler went top shelf to beat Jeff TegliaCody Strang and Ben Paulides picked up assists.

The Phantoms held a 1-0 lead after the first buzzard.  The Lancers outshot the Phantoms 15-10 in the period, but the Phantoms were hitting with intensity.  On one Lancer surge midway through the period, three consecutive checks by the Phantoms garnered the favor of the audience.  Youngstown looked a step faster in this one, at least in the first period.

Omaha dug in and scored at the 1:20 mark of the second period.  Camden Wojtala beat Matt Mahalak. Troy Power and CJ Ludwig picked up assists.  Wojtala’s sixth goal of the season came on a powerplay for Omaha.

With 2:40 left in the second, Omaha claimed their first lead of the game.  Tom Craig got his second goal in as many nights.  Stefan Demopoulos and Ryan Daugherty gathered an assist apiece on Craig’s even-strength chance.

Seth Ambroz scored with 12.8 seconds left in the second period to give Omaha a 3-1 lead to cap off a 3-goal period for the Lancers.   Greg Wolfe and Lancers Goaltender Jeff Teglia got credited with assists.  The Phantoms were definitely outhitting the Lancers, yet somehow, Omaha held a 3-1 lead after two periods.

With 2:41 left in the game, Taylor Holstrom drew a ten-minute misconduct and the Lancers would almost be able to kill the clock on an Adam Berkle 2:00 minor.

Phantoms Coach Curt Carr was pleased with the effort of the Phantoms.  “They [Omaha] are a very good team, one of the best in the league, and I have a lot of respect for them.  We are lacking a little firepower and we are getting chances but just aren’t able to bury the puck.”

The Lancers ended up taking 35 shots compared to the Phantoms 27.  That was about the only category other than goals scored that the Phantoms were outperformed in.  They checked, poke checked, passed, and outplayed a good team, but good teams find ways to win, and Omaha (32-12-3) is a good team.

Guest photographers tonight were Bryce Hall and Anthony Cervone.

Cleveland State Women Defeat Youngstown State, 68-38

Youngstown State’s Lady Penguins returned home for a matinee against Cleveland State.  For the Penguins, it was another chance atthe end’ of the streak, aka, the losing streak that has plagued the Penguins since 2009.  YSU would have to wait until Thursday for another shot as Cleveland State overwhelmed the Lady Penguins by posting a 68-38 win.

Saturday also served as Youngstown State Alumni Day.  Former Lady Penguin standouts from the past were honored at halftime.  Current Penguin, Boki Dimitrov, commented on the festivities. “It’s really nice to be around all of the ladies who have played here. I liked meeting them and am happy they came out today.”

Youngstown State hung with the Vikings in the early going as the score was tied at 8-8 with eight minutes elapsed in the first half. However, Cleveland State applied daunting full-court pressure giving the Penguins fits to even get into their half-court offense.

At the half, the Vikings (13-12, 8-6 HL) were comfortably ahead at 33-17.  Angel Roque provided a spark off of the bench for the Vikings by connecting on three of four first half three-point shots.  The Lady Penguins were paced by Kenya Middlebrooks and Brandi Brown who combined for 13 points and 12 rebounds.  Youngstown State only shot 24% from the field in the half.

With 15:26 left in the game, Cleveland State expanded their lead to 25 points, holding a 44-19 lead.  Brandi Brown, Youngstown State’s most consistent player all season, posted her twelfth double-double when she yanked down her tenth rebound with 14:21 left.  Brown finished the game with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

The Vikings had nine players with anywhere from 6-11 points showing a very well-balanced attack.  Angel Roque took top scoring honors with 11 points, all in the first half.  Her sister, Jessica Roque finished with seven points and seven rebounds.

Kenya Middlebrooks had a nice game for Youngstown State finishing with 11 points and eight rebounds. Only four of the eight Penguins who dressed scored a point.

Cleveland State must have felt like they were in a contest to see how many points they could win by. The Vikings hoisted three-pointers in five consecutive trips up the floor.  At least they stopped pressing with a 63-33 lead and 2:56 left in the game.  Hopefully, Coach Martin etches some mental notes about things like this so when she has a bench and options, she can return the favor of bullying a team.

After the game, Martin commented on the constant threes and pressure in the second half.  “I am not mad at all. It’s a part of the game for their coaches to have players play their game, which is pretty much layups and threes. If I were in that situation, I would want my team to work hard and try to improve, I don’t believe there was any intent to do anything outside of their normal gameplan.”

Youngstown State welcomes Wright State to Beeghly Center on Thursday as the first game of a doubleheader to be followed by the men.

Lady Penguins Honor Alumni With Halftime Presentation

Many ladies who have graced the Beeghly Center Court were on hand Saturday afternoon for a recognition ceremony held at halftime. The alumni also participated in a game before the YSU-Cleveland State contest.  Honorary coaches for the game were Matt Lipcsak and Ed DiGregorio.  “Coach D ” had the advantage because Lipcsak had about 319 less wins, but in an upset, the unheralded former uber manager pulled out the win in overtime.

Kelsey Gurganus, one of the alumni, commented on the turnout. “It was really cool to see some of the ladies I played with. It was also nice to meet some of the players that were integral in the success of building YSU basketball.”

Velissa Vaughn, who doubles as a MYTV Broadcaster for the women’s games, talked about the future of the program under Coach Martin. “Coach Martin will be fine. Once she recruits a few more players and gets back the players who were recruited for this year who are out, you are going to see a very different team.”

Anne-Marie Martin shared the sentiments of Vaughn. “It’s definitely a rebuilding year. With a new coach in her second year, she really hasn’t coached ‘her own’ team yet. She is doing a great job recruiting and maximizing what she has to work with. I have been to about four games this season and I will continue to follow.”

Even my pal, Matt Lipcsak was part of the honors. Matt was a manager who always did all he could for the benefit of the teams he was affiliated with. “I never played a single minute at Youngstown State, but I honestly did all I could to benefit the program in any way I could while I was here. I feel very privelaged that they consider me a part of the family.”

The alumni gathering and the current roster mingled after the game in the Beeghly Center’s Coaches Court. It was nice to see the current team, coaches and players, fraternizing with the alumni.  It has been a tough year and this is one of the nice things that the current Penguins will be able to take away as a positive memory.

Kelly Pavlik To Fight Sergio Martinez on April 17

Kelly Pavlik will get back in the ring on April 17th when he faces Sergio Martinez in Atlantic City.  The fight will be part of an HBO Boxing telecast and will serve as the main event.  Pavlik vowed after his last fight in December, a 5th round TKO over Miguel Espino,  to be more active in 2010 and has stayed busy to keep in good shape.

Sergio Martinez is no pushoverPaul Williams can testify to that.  Martinez stunned Williams, knocking him down, but losing a controversial decision on December 5.  Jack Loew, Pavlik’s trainer, has even been quoted as saying that Martinez will be a tougher fight than Williams would have been.

The split-feed telecast by HBO will start in Quebec where past Pavlik opponent Edison Miranda takes on heavily-hyped IBF super middleweight champion Lucian Bute.  Bute is one of many possibilities for Pavlik’s next fight should he win against Martinez.  The action then will shift to Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall for the Pavlik-Martinez fight.

Other possibilities for Pavlik’s next fight are the always lingering Felix Sturm, Paul Williams (who should be mad at his handlers for running their mouths, he has nothing in the hopper as of this writing), Bute, or the winner of the Showtime Tournament

Pavlik is vacationing in California and will resume his pre-fight eight week training camp on Monday.  Loew has said that Pavlik may train in Florida for a few weeks to keep Kelly clear of pre-fight distractions.  Obviously, the Florida move would be favorable in the road work department.  Pavlik would have to run behind a snowplow and salt truck if he dares to enter Mill Creek Park for a jog.