Archive for January, 2013

YSU Climbs Back Into Horizon League Race With 80-68 Win Over Valparaiso

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Youngstown State University seems to be getting a grip on this whole basketball thing lately.  The Penguins played a fantastic defensive game against league-leading Valparaiso and came away with an 80-68 win.  Kendrick Perry spearheaded the charge with 28 points but had plenty of help on both sides of the court.

To say the Penguins were able to play physical in the post would be an understatement in the win.  Damian Eargle, Bobby Hain, Cameron Belin, and the rest of the Penguins did a fantastic job of taking Kevin Van Wijk and Ryan Broekhoff out of their usual dominant rhythm that has driven the Crusaders all season.

“It really was a great effort defensively”, said Slocum.  ”Our guys really gutted it out and played well.  It was just a great team effort, probably as good as we have had all year.

In the first half, YSU really did a nice job of guarding the perimeter and the paint.  When Valpo would try to kick the ball out, a Penguin would be waiting.  When Valpo tried to feed the low post, they were met with heavy resistance – each trip down the floor.  Nothing came easy for the Crusaders.  YSU got six points out of Kendrick Perry and six more from Belin (below) in the half.

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The Penguns took a 39-28 lead into the half.  Valpo never had a lead in the entire game as YSU started on a 12-4 run.  From that point on, Jerry Slocum seemed to hit all of the right buttons and was able to maintain that large of a lead throughout the opening half.

In the second half, more of the same from YSU.  The Penguins had a 44-33 lead with 16:46 left to play and had maybe their two shakiest possessions of the game to that point, but Valparaiso was unable to gain any significant ground.  With 11:21 left in the game, Shawn Amiker took a nice feed and connected on a bunny while drawing a foul.  Amiker hit the free throw to increase the lead to 54-41.

Slocum knew the sun was shining on his team as Ryan Weber, who entered the game 1-16 from three-point range, buried a big three to increase the Penguin lead to 14.

Valpo would not go away quietly.  With a shade over five minutes left in the game, the YSU lead was whittled to ten points at 65-55.  Blake Allen nabbed a huge offensive rebound in which the Penguins got a fresh clock and capped off with a Belin three to push the lead back to 13.

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Perry remained the heart of the YSU offense.  The junior tallied 28 points and snared 11 rebounds.  Belin added 15 points, and Eargle played another well-rounded game on both ends, with  for the upstart Penguins (13-8, 5-3).  YSU started conference play 1-3, but have since rattled off four straight to get back into the big picture.

“We were feeding off of the energy of this crowd tonight”, said Perry.  ”The fans were booing the refs when they made bad calls, they were cheering us when we made our shots, they were really loud tonight.”

Van Wijk ended the game with 14 points for the Crusaders who dropped to 6-2 in the conference and 16-6 overall.  Broekhoff added 10, but those totals are well below the numbers those two have been putting up this season.

“KP was very special tonight”, said Slocum at the post-game press conference.

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YSU will now head to Detroit for a Friday rematch with the Titans who destroyed YSU by 41 the last time they met on January 10.

When asked if his Penguins would head to Michigan with a chip on their shoulders, Slocum responded, “We are a much different basketball team now.  We are really looking forward to the challenge of going there to play, hopefully we have enough in the tank physically to play our best.”

“We will definitely have a chip on our shoulders”, said Perry.

Brandi Brown Threepeats As Horizon League Player Of The Week

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She has been doing it since she was a freshman at Youngstown State.  She has dominated statistics of all varieties from an individual level.  Brandi Brown has collected her third Horizon League Player of The Week award this season, and she would be the first one to tell you that the award means nothing unless her team is winning.

Brown and her Penguin teammates defeated Cleveland State and Loyola last week.  In the two wins, the senior averaged 26 points and 16.5 rebounds.

Brown had 28 points and 17 rebounds in YSU’s 72-63 win at Cleveland State, YSU’s first victory at the Wolstein Center since 2006. Brown then had 24 points and 16 rebounds in just 28 minutes as Youngstown State beat Loyola 75-38 for its largest margin of victory in a Horizon League game. Brown shot 50 percent from the field in the two games and broke YSU’s career records for free throw makes and free throw attempts.

Brown was also named the Horizon League and High-Major Player of the Week by CollegeSportsMadness.com. The High-Major division includes teams from the Atlantic 10, the CAA, Conference USA, the Horizon League, the MAC, the Missouri Valley, the Mountain West, the WAC and the West Coast conferences.

Brown and the Penguins will play at UIC on Thursday and at Wright State on Sunday this week.

YSU Gets Big 68-61 League Win Over Wright State

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Youngstown State University Coach, Jerry Slocum, has said more than once that his Penguins needed to learn to be a better team at home.  Against a quality team like Wright State, the Penguins delivered their best effort, which was plenty.  The Penguins used a complete arsenal on the Raiders to claim a very satisfying 68-61 win on their home floor.

“This was a classic Horizon League game”, said Slocum.  ”I am happy that everyone who was here finally got to see what I have gotten to see on the road.  It was not a perfect game and we did turn the ball over 18 times, but we played very tough.”

In the first half, YSU did a good job with fundamentals.  The ‘Guins shot 75% from the line, saw balanced scoring, and did a really good job rotating on defense.  In the entertaining first half, YSU had a lead as big as six at the 5:10 mark.  Wright State kept bouncing back, however.  When the smoke cleared, it was YSU that headed to the locker room with a 28-25 lead.

The thing to keep in mind about this Wright State team was that it shows tremendous balance.  No starter for the Raiders averaged more than 11.4 points per game.  This was a true “team” and a tough opponent who only lost once in six league games.  Credit Slocum and staff for doing a good job keeping the defensive assignments straight.

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With the Penguins ahead, 38-33, D.J. Cole hit a three from the left wing to give the Penguins their largest lead of the game at 41-33.  After a Raider timeout, the Penguins went back to work and used a full shot clock as Cole found Blake Allen for an easy layup.

Cole Darling connected on a pair of free throws for Wright State with 11:49 left in the game to make it a 43-37 lead.  The suddenly combustible Penguins then turned the ball over.  Jerran Young hit one of the free throws to make it a five point game.  Kamren Belin hit a big bucket to give the Penguins a more comfortable lead at 45-38.

Wright State had cut the lead to 46-42 with 6:40 left to go.  Allen drilled a three from the top of the key to snuff out the Raider rally and put the Penguins up 49-42.  Belin then connected on a pair of charity tosses to push the lead back to nine.  Allen then drilled another three to extend the lead to 12, the largest of the game, with 4:39 left to play.

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The Penguins got another solid effort from Damian Eargle.  The all-time Horizon League leader for blocked shots added to his total with 5 stuffs.  He also scored 18 points and gathered 6 rebounds.

“It was a tough game”, said Eargle.  ”They have no one player to stop and have a very good team, so you never now who could beat you.  It was definitely hard to prepare.”

The Penguins (11-8, 3-3) got another good game out of Allen, who finished with 17 points, 15 coming in the second half.  His buddy from Florida, Kendrick Perry, added 14 points.  Belin had a nice game off of the bench and chipped in with ten.

Wright State got 18 points from Young.  The Raiders fell to 5-2 in the conference and 14-6 overall.

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The Penguins are at home for two more games against Cleveland State on Saturday and Valparaiso next Wednesday.

Slocum commented on the upcoming matchup against Cleveland State.  ”Obviously, that game has meaning.  They will come in and play tough, and you know it may not be pretty, but it will be a fight.”

Kelly Pavlik Update: Ward? Bute? Froch?

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Speaking with Kelly Pavlik, nothing in the immediate future is set in stone.  In fact, the former middleweight champion says nothing, as far as he knows, is even in negotiation.

“You probably know more than I do”, said Pavlik (40-2, 34 KO’s).  ”I am just trying to train and stay fight-ready so when I get the call, I will be ready.”

Pavlik has had a good bit of in-ring action to shake the rust with wins over inferior competition.  In his last three fights, ‘The Ghost’ has three different results, despite winning all of them.

Aaron Jaco was knocked out convincingly in the second round.  Then Scott Sigmon lasted longer than most thought he would until the referee stopped that fight in the seventh round.

On July 7, Pavlik faced a game Will Rosinsky, and came away with a unanimous ten-round decision.  This was to be his final setup for a bigger payday and tougher opponent.  The names of Carl Froch, Andre Ward, and Lucian Bute, all surfaced as big-name opponents.

Ward took the steps and the deal was signed, but he injured his shoulder for what could have been Pavlik’s shot at regaining the limelight.

Interestingly, with Manny Pacquiao losing his last fight, the sport needs back some of the faces that people actually watch.  There is constant turnover in boxing, but the critical period it is enduring right now needs star power.

Love him or hate him – people watch Kelly Pavlik.

“I wanted to stay active and hopefully we will get something done real soon.  When I know, you will too”, promised Pavlik.