Posts Tagged ‘Damian Eargle’
Before you get to read about who scored what, or how many blocks Damian Eargle had, or how many threes Blake Allen had, or what magic Kendrick Perry whipped up – a pat on the back goes to YSU Coach Jerry Slocum.
Three years ago when this Penguins program was bubbling under, Slocum’s head was called for by several. For him to have a second consecutive winning season – albeit minus his starting lineup for half of the season- says a lot about where the program has advanced to in three years.
Slocum and staff put yet another exclamation point on a fantastic season with a thrilling tournament run that ended to Canisius. The Golden Griffins overcame a 20-point second half deficit to overtake YSU and end their season, 84-82.
“This is a very disappointing loss”, said Slocum. ”We didn’t take care of the ball and they got 15 points on the defensive side. It is not how we wanted this season to end.”
The Golden Griffins entered the game ranked third in the country for three-point field goals made per game at 9.2. The Penguins made 9 three-pointers in the first half. Credit Slocum for cutting the perimeter with a nifty zone which held the normally high-powered Canisius offense to 28 first half points.
In the first half, Allen and Eargle combined to score 12 of YSU’s first thirteen points. But the storyline of the first twenty minutes was YSU’s defense setting up the offense. The normally explosive Golden Griffins were more than just held in check. Canisius could only muster 15.4 % from three while the Penguins knocked down 9-16 long balls (56.4%) to take 45-28 led to intermission.
Allen, who poured in 27 points for YSU, led the quick start and finished the half with 16 points. Eargle, Perry, and Kamren Belin all added eight points each. Canisius got seven from Jordan Heath.
The second half started much like the first half ended. YSU was drilling threes and had a commanding 53-33 lead at the 18:02 mark. The twenty point lead turned into a two-point edge over the next seven minutes. Canisius used a 18-0 run to get right back into the game and the score was 53-51 with 11:08 remaining. D J Cole made a free throw to break the drought and Belin nailed a three with 9:37 to play and YSU ahead 57-54.
Canisius tied the game at 60 on a Alshwan Hymes three with just over seven minutes remaining in the game.
Eargle and Allen started it and seemed poised to finish it. Allen hit his seventh three of the game and Eargle hit a pair of free throws that staked YSU to a 69-64 advantage with 4:15 left in the game.
Canisius would not go away quietly. They came back from 20 to tie the game and this time they were only down seven and cut the YSU lead to 69-66 with 3:41 left to play. Bill Baron then hit a three to tie the game again.
YSU held a 71-70 lead when Perry drove in from the right for an easy deuce that made it 73-70. Baron again struck for three as the Golden Griffins had a possession in which they got to take three shots from long range.
With the crowd standing, Canisius held the ball for the last shot. Baron dribbled at center but when the Golden Griffins attempted their approach to end it, Belin poked the ball out of bounds. With 0.9 seconds left, Canisius inbounded but could not get a shot off.
In the overtime, Perry got things rolling with a three. Canisius retaliated with a layup to cut the lead to one and then had a chance to nab the lead. Perry was fouled after garnering a rebound. The junior forward nailed both with 3:45 left to put YSU back up by three. Another three tied the game at 3:18.
One of the Heath brothers, Jordan, hit the first of two and then his Canisius teammates got yet another offensive rebound. The Penguins would dodge a bullet as Hymes attempted a three that went over the backboard to give YSU the ball. Perry gave the Penguins the lead at 80-79 with 1:15 left to play.
With just under a minute to play, YSU missed a three and Canisius went back to work. Baron was fouled and hit both free throws to make it an 82-80 lead for the visitors. YSU took a timeout with 36.7 seconds to play.
With Eargle seemingly trapped at the top of the key, he spun and made a drive to the hoop while being fouled. The shot fell, Eargle went to the line, and YSU was in a dogfight. Eargle missed the charity toss setting up Canisius for the last possession.
Baron, who ended up with 30 points, cranked up for another three and what looked like a clean block was whistled a foul with 2.1 seconds left. Barron made two of three free throws to give the Golden Griffins an 84-82 lead. YSU could only muster a Perry desperation heave and the game would end.
“This is the most enjoyable season I have had since I got to Youngstown”, said Slocum. ”They are a great bunch and were all in, all year. It is sad that it ended this way for them.”
The Youngstown State men’s basketball team will host Canisius in the second round of the 2013 CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, Saturday, March 23, at 7:05 p.m. at the Beeghly Center.
Ticket prices will remain the same as the first round: $10 for reserved, $7 for general admission, YSU students are free with a current and valid ID. Tickets go on sale at 2 p.m. at the YSU ticket office and will be on sale at the YSU women’s basketball WNIT game at the Beeghly Center.
Penguin Club members and season-ticket holder have until 5 p.m. Friday to renew their tickets at the YSU ticket office. The ticket office will be open on Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Gates open at 6 p.m. at the Beeghly Center.
The Penguins (18-15) won the first postseason tournament game in school history by defeating Oakland, 99-87, on March 19 to advance to the second round. Canisius (19-13) moved on by knocking off Elon, 59-53, on March 20.
Youngstown State set a school single-game record with 18 three-pointers against Oakland to secure its 18th win of the season, the most since 2000-01. Junior Kendrick Perry scored a game-high 31 points, and senior Blake Allen tied a career high with 27 points to become the 35th YSU player to score 1,000 career points.
This is just the fourth meeting between the Penguins and Golden Griffins in a series that dates back to 1941. Canisius won all three previous games, the last one a 71-59 at the Beeghly Center on Nov. 26, 2006.
Canisius, who has recorded a 14-win improvement from 2011-12, finished fifth in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with an 11-7 record in and its 19 wins are the most since the 2000-01 season. The Griffs’ 11 conference victories were the most since the 1998-99 campaign.
Youngstown State’s first-ever Division I postseason tournament game was physical, emotional, high-scoring, and full of thrills. In the end, the Penguins rode 18 three-pointers to advance in the CIT Tournament over a good Oakland team, winning this one, 99-87.
“I didn’t think we would have to get 99 to win” said Coach Jerry Slocum. ” The difference was at around the twelve minute mark of the second half, both teams had converted about four possessions in a row. At the timeout, I told our guys that we needed to make some stops. We got four stops and converted our offensive chances and the lead went from two points to eight.”
Oakland entered the game making its fifth postseason tournament finishing in the CIT Final Four in 2012. Travis Bader scored 700 points during the regular season and averaged 21.9 ppg. Bader lived up to his billing as he knocked down 30 points for the Golden Grizzlies.
“It’s disappointing for the season to end this way”, said Bader. ”We wanted better for the seniors and all we can do is take what we learned this season to get better next year.”
In the first half, a track meet broke out and both teams were scoring. Oakland took a 44-43 led into the intermission off of 16 points from Corey Petros and ten from Bader. The Penguins Blake Allen (below) knocked down six first half threes for 18 points to lead YSU.
In the second half, Kendrick Perry blew up. Perry had ten points in the first half, but really ignited the Beeghly Center crowd with 11:11 left to play. Allen started a break on the Oakland end of the court. As he entered the circle, he lobbed a ball for what appeared to be an alley-oop to Perry. The pass was a little high, but Perry caught the ball, almost at the top of the square, with his right hand and pushed it down to give YSU a 66-60 lead.
Allen reached the vaunted 1,000 point milestone on a free throw that would put the Penguins up by 6 points. Allen became the third active Penguin, joining Perry and Damian Eargle. Allen is the 35th Penguin to accomplish that fete.
“We knew he was close”, said Slocum. ”It was one of the many reasons we wanted to play this game. He is what is good in this business and we wanted he and Damian to play as much as they could. I am really happy for him.”
Perry would then start connecting with threes. More impressively, this was the farthest into a game this season that YSU would make every free throw that they attempted. Bobby Hain connected on an and-one with 8:25 left. With his made free throw, YSU was a perfect 10-10 from the line.
With YSU ahead 76-69, Shawn Amiker drove and converted to push the Penguin lead to 78-70 with just over seven minutes to play.
Oakland went to full-court pressure, but the patient Penguins advanced the ball through the pressure, got into their offense, and got a dunk from Eargle to go up 81-75 with 5:32 left to play.
Perry went back to work as he drew a foul on Bader and converted both free throws to put YSU up 86-77. The crowd was really riding Bader most of the second half.
Oakland would not quit. Derek Mondy broke out of a pack to draw a foul on a contested layup. Mondy missed the shot but would go to the free throw line. He would hit one of two charity tosses to make it 86-80 with just under three minutes to play.
Perry pushed the Penguins back out by nine with another three, and then Eargle hit a free throw to make it 90-80 with 2:54 to play.
Bader hit a pair of free throws with 1:21 left to cut the lead to 95-87. The Penguins would convert free throws down the stretch to maintain the margin and ice the game.
Perry finished the game with 30, Allen contributed 27, and Belin knocked down 16. With the win, YSU had their first 18-win season since the 2000-01 season. They are also 1-0 in Division I postseason games now.
Where they go next is still in the air – the way the tournament works there are more first round games on Wednesday night. The winning teams will all be reshuffled to see who plays who based on who wants to pay to host the game.
To host a first round game, the Penguins had to cough up $35,000.00. Slocum remarked after the game that he was humbled by the financial support provided to the university by the local businesses.
“There was no financial burden on the university due to the generosity of several local businesses”, commented Slocum. ”It is amazing that those businesses and boosters would come up with that kind of money for this to take place. I am deeply touched by their gratitude.”
Damian Eargle is unique in so many ways. He will leave a legacy of statistics behind, including becoming the all-time leader in blocked shots in Horizon League history. More than that, Eargle will leave a hollow void in the charisma of Youngstown State Athletics. It is refreshing to watch a student athlete truly enjoy what he is doing on the court. His friendly demeanor is not a gimmick either because his personality has been top shelf since he came back home to play basketball at Youngstown State.
Paneech: You might be the happiest Division I basketball player ever. Does Coach Slocum ever give you an earful for smiling in games or practices?
Eargle: All the time. I try to stay positive and would like to think I made coach happy with my smile. It definitely gets me into some trouble, but not that much. I’m smiling because I love playing basketball, I love the game. You will not always get calls, especially when you start complaining, so I always try to be friendly with the officials.
Paneech: What about when coach stomps his feet and goes on a tirade with an official at a game, how hard is it for you not to smile and be yourself?
Eargle: (laughs) I get busted all the time…. all the time. Coach Slocum seems to have gotten used to it, and it is not really that big of a deal anymore. He knows that the smile is a genuine reflection of my personality. The whole coaching staff is used to it. When we are having a bad day at practice, I do my best to cheer everyone up.
Paneech: On a more serious note, six young people from your hometown of Warren recently tragically passed away in an automobile accident. Did you have any ties to the victims or know any of the families?
Eargle: I did not know any of the victims. Warren is a small community with a family setting. Our hearts go out to all of them. You probably hear a lot of bad things about Warren, but the citizens of that community are surely going to support those families.
Paneech: To be the all-time leader in any Horizon League category must be an honor. Does it enhance your value to get to the next level?
Eargle: It was an honor to break both the Horizon League career record and the Horizon League Tournament record for blocks. It is a good thing to have on your resume. I believe it may give me an opportunity to play at the next level.
Paneech: Is there any one blocked shot that you had that may be your best ever?
Eargle: It would have to be when I blocked Stephen Curry my freshman year. He threw up a floater and I came out of nowhere to get it. I was headhunting because I wanted to get him so bad. It felt so good even though he ended up with like 33 points in that game.
Paneech: You have had to adapt and learn to play with a protective mask (below) on your face in the last few weeks. What is different?
Eargle: It gets sweaty under there and sometimes the sweat gets into my eyes. I also sometimes have a hard time looking up. On the positive side, it helps me be more aggressive, I am more open to contact because it does protect. It was hard at first, but I have gotten used to it. Since I started wearing it, my shooting percentage and rebounds have gone up, and I don’t know why. When I feel comfortable enough, I will take it off. I will never know when, but someday it will stay off.
Paneech: How big of a deal is it that YSU has finally earned the right to play in a postseason tournament?
Eargle: It is huge for the program. It is the first time in the history of YSU that a men’s basketball team will be playing in a postseason tournament. We are excited about it and even though we sacrificed our entire Spring Break to practice, we all welcome that trade, to play in that tournament. I probably would have been sitting in my room or chilling at home, so I am much happier playing basketball.
Paneech: Who is your favorite NBA player and why?
Eargle: Penny Hardaway was my favorite player ever. He was a 6’6″ guard and that is what made me want to dribble. He and Shaq were my idols back in the day when they played for the Orlando Magic. I remember the commercials with Little Penny, stuff like that made me admire him. He was an amazing player and I wish he was still playing.
Paneech: I have watched you shoot free throws in practice and you make 19 of 20. Then you get to a game and you miss one, does it screw your head up?
Eargle: It has a snowball effect, I’m telling you! I can hit them regularly in practice. Today, I think I hit 30 of 35. It just gets mental. I do practice them and they really are mental. You can hit a pair and it gets easier, but when you miss that first one you think, ‘man, what am I doing wrong here?’
Paneech: I love Coach Slocum’s emotional prowess, but from where I sit at home games I see two things when you shoot a free throw – you at the line and him in the same line of sight, staring at the floor unable to watch.
Eargle: I can’t look that way when I am at the line. I think the assistant coaches tell him what happens. If I look that way, I might just miss, so I don’t even go there.
Paneech: I respect the direction that Coach Slocum has this program going. In any way, do you feel that maybe with the all-time leader in conference history in blocked shots, the all-time school leader in threes with Blake, and a first team offensive / defensive selection with KP that this team underachieved this year?
Eargle: We wanted to do better, but we did take a big step up and doing things never before done here at YSU. We made some history, and we are comfortable with where we are at right now.
One Word Answers
Favorite Cereal: Trix
Fast Food: Pizza Hut. I get a P-Zone and a chicken alfredo family sized side and Mountain Dew.
Favorite Drink After Practice: Water
Alternate Sport You Would Play: Football, Tight End
Favorite TV Show: Breaking Bad and Walking Dead
Song On ipod No One Would Expect: Work To Do – Average White Band
Who Wins NCAA Tournament? This year it is so random that I wouldn’t be surprised if Valpo won. I will say Syracuse.
What Happens Next? Camps, If not the NBA, Overseas. If not overseas, I will work at a corrections facility in Elkton. My college experience has taught me a lot about networking, it isn’t always what you know, but rather who you know. I toured prisons, I’m fine with it. I have tough skin.
Tough skin well hidden by a big smile. Thanks Damian for your accomplishments at Youngstown State. Many people are glad you came home to play.
The last time that Youngstown State University won a game in the State of Indiana was in January of 2001. That is multiple consecutive losses to Butler, Valpo, the Pacers, heck, anyone who would let them play. All told, it had been 28 games since the Penguins pulled out a “W” in the Hoosier State.
On Friday, the streak was extended to 29, as YSU mounted a furious rally but never got all the way back in falling to Wright State, 66-59. “We battled back, but couldn’t finish”, said Jerry Slocum. ”I thought we outplayed them in the second half, and I think they outplayed us in the first.
“We had enough stops down the stretch but missed a couple of open threes and a layup, and you just can’t win when you do not convert those chances.”
Youngstown State raced out to a 7-2 lead, but found themselves trailing 19-12 with 8:05 left to play in the first half. Kendrick Perry entered the contest with 12:29 left in the half, but had little effect on the game, as he retook a seat with 8:05 left to play. He would reenter the game again before half.
The Penguins found themselves digging a big hole early as they trailed 21-12 with 6:47 left. To this point in the game, 27.8% from the field, and a couple of shot clock violations were not helping.
Reggie Arceneaux and Miles Dixon combined for more points (15) at this point of the game than YSU had for a total (14). Consequently, at the half, Wright State had a commanding 33-19 lead.
In the second half, YSU tried to make a game of it. After fouling JT Yoho on a successful Raiders three-pointer and made free throw, Perry nailed a three, got a defensive rebound, and then hit a free throw to bring it back to ten at 43-33 with 13:59 to play.
Damian Eargle did all he could on defense (above). His 302nd career block, most all-time in the Horizon League, set a record for having nine blocks in two games, a tournament record.
Bobby Hain cut the Wright State lead to six on an old-fashioned three-point play. The Hain points made it 52-46, but Arceneaux nailed another three to push the lead back to nine.
Eargle hit a free throw with 3:36 left to cut the Wright State lead to 56-53. YSU had come almost all the way back. Arceneaux, again, sucked the momentum out of the Penguins with another three to boost the lead back to six.
With 49.8, Perry was fouled. He hit the second free throw to make it 61-57, and the Penguins used a full timeout. Off of the timeout, Wright State started pecking from the free throw line and YSU could get no closer.
YSU’s season was a success. The seventeen wins completed a string of two consecutive sixteen-plus win seasons for Slocum. Few teams would have been able to withstand the adversity that this group did down the stretch.
Friday’s tournament game was really the first time the ‘Guins saw Eargle and Perry on the floor at the same time.
“I don’t feel like we had a timing issue”, said Eargle. ”Me and KP have been playing together for three years and I don’t think it was timing at all.”
Belin notched 20 points and Eargle added 13 points to go with his six rebounds and two blocks. Perry, who seemed ineffective in the first half, got his rhythm and finished with eleven points.
Wright State extended the season nobody expected them to have with the win and will face Detroit on Saturday.
“Give credit to Youngstown State”, said Raiders Coach, Billy Donnan. ”We feel fortunate to come away with this win and we will have our hands full with Detroit tomorrow.”
With Youngstown State University winning their first-round Horizon League Tournament game at home, the tricky situation of getting to Valparaiso for the second round comes up. Dealing with all of the hurdles makes it a challenge, but the end result is always satisfying, more so if the Penguins could win.
The first challenge to face begins after YSU wins in the first round. Without Kendrick Perry, and coming off of their worst performance of the season at Wright State, the Penguins were able to muster a 62-60 win at home in their first-round challenge. This automatically placed YSU into a second-round game at Valparaiso on Friday.
Because I am not financially able to do this website full-time, I was at the mercy of the boss at my regular place of employment to allow me a Friday-for-Sunday swap of my work schedule. The paper pile on my desk would have been an early indicator that the answer might have been a resounding ‘no’, but my compassionate employer was very cooperative in my proposed switch and agreed that I could maneuver the schedule for the rare occasion.
Once the hurdle was cleared, I started calling around to see who was headed West. YSU Sports Information Director, Trevor Parks, said he would be making the trip Friday morning.
Thursday was action packed. Because I set up at baseball card shows on weekends, I had been awaiting the release of 2013 Topps Heritage Baseball. As good luck would have it, my wholesaler called me at 3 p.m. on Thursday to let me know that it had come in.
Problem: The wholesaler is in Cleveland and I wanted to work late to show my boss that I was appreciative of his unselfish permission to jockey my schedule, but I had to get to Cleveland. So at 6 (normal quitting time is 4:30), I called it a day and headed toward the lake to get my supply.
I got home around 8:30 with a new group of choices. I had a case of these unopened cards, an empty suitcase, and hadn’t eaten all day. I figured I have probably eaten enough in the last 45 years to skip dinner and got into the baseball cards. When I looked at the clock, it was 12:45 a.m. and I still had the empty suitcase.
I scrambled into suitcase packing mode and realized I had some ironing to do. Finally, at about 3, I got some sleep.
Trevor and Ron Stevens, who photographs everything at YSU with pride, met up with me at 8 a.m. and we started the voyage of hope, a chance to see the Penguins lay their season on the line in hopes of getting to the big dance for the first time in school history.
On a trip fueled with coffee, friendship, and good conversation, the five-and-a-half hour drive (357 miles) went pretty quick.
Hopefully the return trip will be celebratory and the Mahoning Valley can look toward unchartered destinations for Jerry Slocum’s Penguins.
Youngstown State senior, Damian Eargle, was named the Horizon League Defensive Player of The Year on Monday. If blocking shots were an art, Eargle would be Van Gogh.
Eargle led the league with 3.1 blocks per game overall and 2.9 blocks per Horizon League game. He averaged 11.8 points per game this season, also ranked fifth with 6.2 rebounds per game and fourth with 4.4 defensive rebounds per game.
Eargle, the 34th 1,000-point scorer in school history, led the Horizon League in blocks in 2011-12 with 116 and is the league’s record holder for most blocks in a career with 293. Eargle was also a 2012 Horizon League All-Defensive Team selection.
If Youngstown State is going to make a run in the Horizon League Tournament, which starts Tuesday, they will need to provide a much better effort than they did Saturday at the Nutter Center. Wright State, picked by the “experts” to finish in the basement of the conference, improved their third place standing with a 72-45 conquest of YSU.
“This is a tough way to go into the playoffs.”, said Jerry Slocum. ”This was probably our worst effort of the year,”
In the first half, Wright State raced out to an early double-digit lead with the help of 14 Youngstown State turnovers leading to 19 Wright State points. The Penguins could only muster a 30% shooting percentage in the half, while the Raiders shot 61%, resulting in a 39-19 lead for WSU. The Penguins finished the game with 16 turnovers.
Damian Eargle managed to score seven of the Penguins 19 points in the half. The Raiders got nine points from Kurt Hess‘s high school friend, Matt Vest. In fact, Hess, Torrian Pace, and Chris Elkins (below) made the trip to Dayton on Friday. Hess grew up in the area.
In the second half, D. J. Cole penetrated and dumped a feed to Eargle, who snared an easy basket. The hoop made the score 47-28 with a shade over 14 minutes left to play in the game. Four minutes later, the Penguins found themselves down 21, trailing 51-30. Wright State was getting two or three chances each offensive possession with good offensive rebounding.
Kamren Belin hit threes on consecutive possessions to make it 59-38, but Wright State quickly regained control of things, capped by J. T. Yoho‘s bucket in the paint with 3:46 left to make it 64-39.
For YSU, Eargle finished the game with 11 points to lead the team. Allen had 5 with 5 rebounds to lead the team, and Belin ended up with 8 points.
This year’s conference Cinderella, Wright State (19-11, 10-6), got 14 points from Jerran Young and 11 from Vest in the win. As a team, the Raiders compiled 12 steals.
All the Penguins (16-14, 7-9) can do now is focus on Tuesday. They cannot mope or dwell because the next loss means “season over” for the team. It also means the careers of Allen and Eargle will end.
Kendrick Perry shot around with the team during the pregame but was again held out. His status is unchanged and he will be reevaluated again before a decision is made about being in the Penguin lineup on Tuesday
Show support for the Penguins Tuesday and get to the Beeghly Center for their first-round playoff game.
Youngstown State University came out like a ball of fire against league-leading Valparaiso. After leading by as many as 13 and by seven at the half, YSU was outscored 40-24 in the second half. Blake Allen knocked down 22, but the Penguins fell 73-64.
With the loss, YSU falls to 16-13 on the season with one game left to play at Wright State on Saturday. The last regular season game could be played without Kendrick Perry who is still out with a knee injury he suffered at practice last Wednesday. Perry will be evaluated again before a decision on his status is made.
Valpo got 21 points out of Ryan Broekhoff (below) and 14 more from Kevin Van Wijk on Senior Night. The Crusaders improved to 23-7 on the season and avenged a loss to the Penguins in Youngstown earlier in the campaign.
Allen’s 22 points came on 8-16 shooting, including a 4-4 performance from the free throw line. D. J. Cole poured in 15 points, and Damian Eargle had 12 points to go along with his three blocked shots.
YSU Coach Jerry Slocum knew the visit to Indiana would be a tough one.
“I am sure they [Valparaiso] will be ready for us”, said Slocum after Saturday’s Bracketbuster win. ”It is Senior Night there and they will be reminded that we beat them here. They are a great team and it will be a very tough challenge.”
Give the Penguins credit for playing with a lot of heart without one of their most essential ingredients, in Perry, against the Crusaders.
Season finale happens at the Nutter Center on Saturday as the Penguins face Wright State, who also lost on Tuesday night, 60-55, at UIC. I will be at the game and covering away, check here for results and photos. Tip off for the final regular season game for 2012-13 is 2 p.m.
He is new to this neck of the woods, but Kamren Belin seems to be fitting in just fine. Belin, a transfer from the State of Georgia, was recently awarded the Horizon League Player of The Week Award for a second consecutive week. The versatile Belin has had a great inaugural campaign under Coach Jerry Slocum. I recently interviewed Belin about many things.
Paneech: You are in Georgia playing basketball, and someone approaches you about transferring to Youngstown State University. How did the recruiting work?
Belin: I had to go to a junior college because I didn’t have everything ready for college yet. I was already in touch with Youngstown State. I put in two years there to get up to speed, but was in touch with Coach Mike [Wernicki] throughout the process. I came for a visit to this campus after I visited Stephen F. Austin. There were three more colleges I was scheduled to visit, but I decided this was where I wanted to be.
Paneech: Your role has changed a lot throughout the season. You have started and have also been able to provide valuable minutes off of the bench. Do you have a set role?
Belin: My role seems to be getting bigger and bigger as each game goes by. I have tried to assume a leadership role without stepping on any toes. I think next year is going to be a very good year. I have gotten to be very good friends with Shawn Amiker but feel a closeness with everyone on the team.
Paneech: What are the differences between Youngstown and Georgia?
Belin: Here, I am much more independent. I am here by myself and feel like my decisions are my decisions. I don’t have to wait to hear what my mom has to say and I get to be more of an adult here. I was in Kansas for juco, but this is even more independent and different than that was.
Paneech: Coach Slocum gets animated sometimes. He stamps his feet and gets emotional when he doesn’t like a call. Damian Eargle can’t hold back from smiling when he sees some of it, how do you stop yourself?
Belin: It is kind of hard not to laugh. When it happens, I always happen to see Damian smiling in my line of view. We know as a team when to contain ourselves. It’s the same in practice sometimes, things just get taken a little more personal during games.
Paneech: What is the significance of the endless tattoos on your body?
Belin: All of my tattoos are in dedication to my family. My whole right arm is my grandmother and the women in my life, and my left arm is about my brothers. I got some new work done on my back in honor of the tragedy that took place in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. I don’t know what is next, I will probably get all of the shading done on my right arm.
Paneech: You keep busy with practices, games, and classes, but there is that time in between that you have. How do you spend that time?
Belin: My go to would be McDonalds. It is convenient now because they put one in Kilcawley Center. I usually get two McChicken sandwiches add cheese and bacon, a small fry, and a vanilla shake. I’m not a soda drinker, so after practice, I usually go for a light blue Gatorade.
Paneech: What has been your most memorable ‘on the court’ experience so far?
Belin: I would say that it really wasn’t anything that happened on the court during a game yet. So far, the most memorable thing would be boot camp. You wake up at 5 a.m., struggle to get over here, and then you flip tires and run cone drills. You sleep good at night.
Paneech: What kind of things can you focus on after a loss to get back on the winning track?
Belin: We need to handle pressure better. It seems like when we lose games that we have a lot of turnovers because of the opponent’s pressure defenses. Against Detroit, we lost by 41 the first game because we have not seen pressure like that. When we went there for the second meeting, we handled the pressure better, but not well enough to win.
Paneech: What is more impressive to you, that Damian Eargle now is the all-time blocks leader in the Horizon League, or that Kendrick Perry has a chance to be the Horizon League Player of The Year?
Belin: Both of those are impressive things to think about. I feel like if KP got the player of the year award that it would be something special not only for him, but for all of us as a team.
Paneech: What do you want to study and concentrate on while here academically?
Belin: My major is in Philosophy and my minor is in Sociology, but I might change that minor to creative writing. One of the things I really enjoy doing is writing poetry. Philosophy helps get me into that type of mindset. If I wasn’t in college, I would probably be trying to write, or I would be cooking somewhere to make a living.
Paneech: Have you been late for anything since you got here?
Belin: (laughs) Yeah. I was late for a team meal once. I did not get to start one game because of it. The coaches here are very good guys though. They break things down before we start practicing to make sure we understand the gameplan and they let us have fun but know when to draw the line.
Paneech: Does your family keep up with YSU hoops?
Belin: A bunch of family members came to the Georgia game. They came in for the two games last weekend (see picture above). They are very supportive and watch how we do.
Paneech: From the standpoint of a fan, you enjoy making a three point shot. You put three fingers up to your head. What is that all about?
Belin: It is something that one of my favorite players, Carmelo Anthony, does after he hits a three. So I just kind of took that from him and made it my own. Blake [Allen] already knows I am coming for his new three-point record.
One Word Answers
Biggest Phobia: Bugs.
Worst Habit: Dunkin’ Donuts.
Favorite Junk Food: Chips Ahoy Chewy.
Song On Your ipod That No One Would Guess: Over My Head by The Fray.
Favorite Sport Besides Basketball: Football – Tight End.
Favorite NBA Player: Rudy Gay.
Who Would Win March Madness if YSU Wasn’t In? Syracuse.
Who Will Exit Early? North Carolina, they are very overrated.
What Is The Worst Part of Practice: Full-court layup drills.