Posts Tagged ‘Kenya Middlebrooks’
The 2011-12 Youngstown State women’s basketball program recently had their season-ending annual awards banquet at the Chestnut Room of YSU’s Kilcawley Center.
- Women’s Basketball Head Coach Bob Boldon presented junior Brandi Brown with the Ed DiGregorio Award recognizing the team’s most valuable player. Brown, the 17th player in school history to score 1,000 career points, was voted Second-Team All-Horizon League for the second consecutive season. Brown averaged 15.9 points and 9.3 rebounds during the season, and she upped her scoring to 17 points per game during Horizon League play. Brown finished sixth in the postseason voting, one spot out of making it onto the first team.
- Boldon was recognized for his early days in college basketball as both a student-athlete and a coach at Walsh University. On Feb. 25, Boldon’s accomplishments as a star point guard at Walsh were celebrated as he was selected as one of the program’s top 50 players in its 50-year history. Boldon was a four-year starter for the Cavaliers and led the squad to the NAIA Final Four in 1996.
- On May 19, Boldon will be recognized as part of Walsh’s 1998 NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship team as it is inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame. Boldon was an assistant coach on that squad, which became the first unseeded team to win an NAIA National Championship.
The Youngstown State women’s basketball team has a long-standing tradition of being active in the surrounding community, and the Penguins have maintained that practice throughout the 2011-12 academic year.
Highlighting the list of many projects was YSU’s reading program at area elementary schools. Members of the women’s basketball team read to a total of about 3,500 second through fifth graders at 11 different elementary schools throughout the Youngstown area.
Among other projects the team participated in, they served at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church Spaghetti dinner twice during the year. The Penguins also walked in a non-violence parade and participated in the Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting ceremony in downtown Youngstown.
Additionally, seniors Macey Nortey and Kenya Middlebrooks spearheaded two community service projects. Nortey organized a large donation campaign to a homeless shelter where members of the team donated soap and shampoo. Middlebrooks organized a canned-food drive where struggling families in the Mahoning Valley received baskets.
Congratulations Lady Penguins on a great year!
The Youngstown State women’s basketball had three tries to force overtime in the final seconds, but could not connect on any dropping a hard-fought 59-56 decision to Cleveland State in the first round of the Horizon League Tournament on Monday night at the Wolstein Center.
With 8.9 seconds left, the Penguins setup Monica Touvelle for the first try from straight on, but her shot glanced off the left side of the rim. Brandi Brown grabbed the board, but her off-balance 3-pointer from the wing bounced out. Heidi Schlegel grabbed the second rebound and alertly dribbled out to the 3-point line, but her shot at the buzzer didn’t fall as the Vikings advanced to play at Detroit on Wednesday night in the quarterfinals. The Penguins finish the season 10-20 while Cleveland State improves to 12-18.
YSU turned up the defensive pressure to have a chance to force overtime. The Penguins tied the game early in the second half on two occasions, before the Vikings went on top 27-25 with 17:55 remaining. At the 8:42 mark, the Vikings went ahead 52-45 on a 3-pointer by Shalonda Winton. YSU pulled within 52-47 on a couple of free throws by Kelsea Fickiesen. However, the Vikes pushed their advantage back to seven at the 7:08 mark on two free throws by Honesty King.
From that point, the team’s struggled offensively down the stretch. Touvelle broke the scoring drought for both teams with a base-line jumper at the 3:03 mark. Brown answered over a minute later driving to the bucket and converted a layup with 1:49 remaining cutting the deficit to 54-51.
Kenya Middlebrooks split a pair of free throws with 1:07 left and with 26.5 seconds left, Melissa Thompson‘s putback of a Middlebrooks missed triple got the Penguins within 56-54. With 24.4 ticks left, Janelle Adams sank a pair of free throws to push the CSU lead up to 58-54.
Fickiesen quickly drove to the hoop scoring with exactly 18 seconds left. With 16.6 seconds left, Thompson fouled Honesty King who made the first, but missed the second free throw. The Penguins quickly moved the ball up the court, but Fickiesen was whistled for a charging foul with 9.8 seconds remaining. The YSU pressure then forced Adams to travel setting up the final 8.9 seconds.
For the game, YSU shot 30.4 percent making 21-of-69 shots, but went just 3-of-22 (13.6 percent) from behind the 3-point arc. All three 3-pointers came in a five-minute span of the second half. CSU shot 36.5 percent from the field converting 23-of-63 attempts.
Fickiesen led the Penguins with 11 points while Middlebrooks and Touvelle each finished with 10. Coleman had game-high honors with 17 points while Shalonda Winton had 15 and King added 13.
Both teams struggled offensively in the first half, shooting a combined 27 percent and committing 26 turnovers, and Cleveland State held a 23-21 lead at halftime. YSU’s defense forced 10 steals as a catalyst to Cleveland State’s 15 first-half turnovers, but the Penguins were 7-for-34 overall from the floor and 0-for-9 from 3-point range offensively.
YSU scored the first four points of the game, but Cleveland State scored six straight points for the first of three lead changes in the opening period. Middlebrooks put the Guins back up 9-8, and her steal and lay-up gave them a 16-12 lead with 6:10 left.
Schlegel’s bucket put YSU up 18-14 with 5:22 remaining, but YSU did not score for nearly five minutes as Cleveland State scored the next nine points to go ahead 23-18. Schlegel made a free-throw with 30.9 seconds left to end the drought, and Fickiesen made a lay-up with less than three seconds left to make the score 23-21 at halftime.
The Youngstown State Lady Penguins fought back after putting themselves in an early hole, but ultimately came up short, falling to Cleveland State. Over the final seven-and-a-half minutes, the Vikings outscored the Penguins 20-9 and walked away with a 79-69 victory. YSU committed 28 turnovers, matching a season high, and attempted a season-low 14 3-pointers in the loss.
The loss shook things up for the Horizon League Women’s Tournament. Had the Penguins (10-19, 4-14) been able to nab the road win, they would have hosted a game Monday night in the first round. Because of the way it ended, the Lady Penguins will head straight back to the Wolstein Center for a do-over with their local rivals.
The Penguins trailed by as many as 14 in the first half, but were was able to chip away and pulled themselves into the lead midway through the second half. The Penguins outscored the Vikings 15-7 in the first five minutes of the second half to cut the margin to three, and they took their first lead of the contest when two Macey Nortey free throws at the 9:47 mark made the score 58-57. Cleveland State made two free throws to re-claim the lead, and a Kenya Middlebrooks bucket put YSU up 60-59 with 7:34 left. The Vikings made six of their next seven shots, and YSU missed six free throws in the final 6:37.
Cleveland State shot 63.3 percent in the first half and 50 percent for the game. The Vikings scored 22 of their 33 points in the second half in the final 8:30. YSU shot 40.7 percent and posted a season-high 16 steals. Cleveland State made 10 of its first 13 shots and ended the first half on a 9-3 run to take a 46-35 lead at halftime. The Vikings led by as many as 14 in the period, and their 9-3 run to end the period came immediately after YSU had cut the deficit to five.
Heidi Schlegel registered her second career double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Kelsea Fickiesen added a career-best 14 points. For Cleveland State, Shalonda Winton finished with 25 points, and Takima Keane and Cori Coleman both had 14 points.
The Penguins will enter tournament play as the #10 seed, while Cleveland State will host as the #7 seed.
Wright State used runs of 10-0 and 13-0 in the second half to pull away and defeat the Youngstown State women’s basketball team 84-62 on Thursday evening at the Nutter Center.
After 14 lead changes and nine ties in the first half, Wright State led the entire second half and outscored the Penguins 43-23. That included an 18-5 edge in the final six minutes.
The Raiders, who improved to 18-9 overall and 11-4 in Horizon League play, had three players reach the 20-point plateau. Courtney Boyd led all scorers with 24 points while Kim Demmings had 22 and Molly Fox posted 20. Brandi Brown led YSU with 18 points, 12 of which came in the second half. Heidi Schlegel added 14 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
YSU trailed just 52-48 with 15 minutes left, and the Penguins had a turnover in transition that seemed to jump-start the Raiders. Wright State scored the next 10 points, the final six of which were on back-to-back 3-pointers from Boyd, to go up 62-48.
Brown scored the next five points to cut the margin to nine, and YSU still trailed just 66-57 with under six minutes left. That’s when the Raiders scored 13 straight points to take a 79-57 with 2:43 remaining. Schlegel’s bucket at the 1:57 mark ended a five-and-a-half minute scoring drought for the Penguins.
Wright State did not have a field goal for nearly five minutes in the second half, but YSU was only able to score four points in that stretch and did not trim anything off the deficit.
After a back-and-forth first half, Wright State made four free throws in the final minute to take a 41-39 lead at halftime.
Wright State scored the first six points of the game, and that was its largest lead of the opening period. YSU scored the next five points, and Kenya Middlebrooks‘ third triple in the first five minutes gave YSU its first lead at 11-9. Wright State did not lead by more than two the remainder of the period.
YSU’s largest lead came at 30-25 with 5:34 remaining following a 7-0 run. Devan Matkin started the run with a 3-pointer, her second of the half, while Kelsea Fickiesen and Brown both had two points. Wright State scored the next five points to tie the score for the fifth time at the 4:55 mark, and neither team led by more than two the rest of the period.
Boyd had 15 points in the first half, which was nearly seven above her average coming into the game. Schlegel and Middlebrooks had nine apiece for YSU, which hit seven triples in the first 20 minutes.
YSU finished with 10 3-pointers in 30 attempts, which included a 3-for-18 effort from distance in the second half. Wright State outshot the Penguins 45.5 percent to 34.4 percent.
YSU will stay on the road and play at Detroit on Saturday at 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on 1390 WNIO.
*Story courtesy of YSU Sports Information, John Vogel.
Emotional. That would be the best way to describe the effort put forth by Youngstown State University on Saturday afternoon as they faced the best team in the Horizon League, #11 Green Bay. Last season the Penguins lost by 59 points to the same team,this game went to overtime – the program has improved, drastically. Unfortunately, Green Bay fought back from a seven point deficit to tie the game and force extra time, and pulled out a dramatic 77-72 win.
For Kenya Middlebrooks, Macey Nortey, and Tierra Jones, it marked the end of ‘home games’ and they were honored before the start of the game. A defeat two days earlier that the Penguins should have won, Senior Day, #11, last home game, etc. were all whipped together in a mixing bowl by Coach Bob Boldon and staff to create the perfect storm, and it almost worked.
“Our kids showed a lot of composure today”, said Boldon. “There were breakdowns, we made poor decisions, they made some tough shots. They made all of their free throws in overtime and we didn’t – they capitalized on every mistake that we made.”
In the first half, the Penguins came out blazing. Middlebrooks shot 4-6 from three-point range, Brandi Brown had eight rebounds and six points, freshman Kelsea Fickiesen contributed eight points which added up to a 34-32 halftime lead for the home team. More impressively on the stat sheet at the half was that YSU held Julie Wojta to just seven points. The Phoenix’ Wojta rates at the top of just about every offensive category in the Horizon.
The Penguins kept the ball rolling for a bit in the second half before Green Bay locked in and went a run to claim a 47-44 lead with 11:12 left in the game. Brown snared a rebound with just over ten minutes to play to notch a double-double, her ninth of the season. Jones hit a 15-footer on the baseline to make it a one point game with Green Bay ahead 47-46.
The Penguins took a 49-47 led with 7:21 left in the game when Brown drilled a three with a hand in her face. Adrian Ritchie returned the favor giving Green Bay a 50-49 lead with a three of her own. Melissa Thompson nailed a three on YSU’s next possession and the Penguins were all-in. The Penguins took a 54-52 lead on a pair of free throws by Fickiesen, but Green Bay reclaimed the lead at 55-54 when Megan Lukan was fouled while making a layup.
Brown hit a three from the corner by the YSU bench to give YSU a 57-55 lead with just over two minutes to play. Middlebrooks then drilled a three with 1:33 left to give YSU a 60-55 lead. After a stop, Middlebrooks was fouled and calmly hit a pair of charity tosses to expand the led to 62-55. Another stop and Middlebrooks was fouled again. Middlebrooks calmly nailed both again to increase the lead to 64-55.
Watching the lead go away quick, the Penguins were ahead 65-63 when Fickiesen was fouled. She missed the first but made the second with 28 seconds left. Ritchie was then fouled while shooting a three, so she got three shots. She hit all three, tie game, 68-68. No one else would score and the game was headed to overtime.
In the overtime, Tierra Jones picked up her fifth foul with 3:24 left. Four of the fouls that Jones was whistled for were petty. Fine me. Green Bay hit four free throws to hold a 70-66 lead and the ball with 2:33 to play. Nortey connected on a free throw to make it 70-67. The Penguins had a shot to tie it, but Middlebrooks could not connect from three. The Phoenix held a 72-67 lead when Lydia Bauer buried three right when the shot clock expired.
Youngstown State (10-16, 4-11) got good effort out of Brown. The junior finished the contest with 18 points and 17 rebounds, to record her 36th career double-double. Middlebrooks had 22 points, Fickiesen played perhaps her best game as a collegiate in collecting 12 points, as did Thompson for the Penguins. Despite losing, give this team a gold star for playing their butts off.
“The good thing was that we played hard the whole game”, commented Middlebrooks. A year ago, two years ago, we would have folded and gotten blown out. So it is a positive measure of progress, but we feel like we should have won the game.”
Green Bay got 18 points and 15 rebounds from Wojta and 26 more from Ritchie. The Phoenix improved to 23-1 and 13-1 with the win, but more importantly, survived a scare from a hungry YSU team.
“Youngstown played their butts off”, said Wojta. “There is a lot of progress here and the girls and coaches should be extremely proud of how far they have come. We play with a will to win and we never give up, we needed to be that way to pull this out today.
Boldon talked about how a close loss to the best team in the conference can help YSU entering the tournament in a couple of weeks. “I would like to think it will help us. We played close with each of the top four teams in the conference and in a one game format, I feel like our kids will have the confidence to compete.”
The Youngstown State women’s basketball team will play its final regular season game at Beeghly Center on Saturday against No. 11/12 Green Bay. Tipoff against the Phoenix is set for 2 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on 570 WKBN and the Horizon League Network. The Penguins will salute seniors Tieara Jones (above), Kenya Middlebrooks and Macey Nortey prior to the game. YSU is coming off a 76-71 home loss to Milwaukee, and Green Bay beat Cleveland State 90-59 on Thursday.
Four of YSU’s last five Horizon League losses have been by five points or fewer. One was in overtime, and another was by a go-ahead 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds left. YSU is averaging 10.8 3-pointers in Horizon League play and 9.4 per game overall. The Penguins rank fifth in the nation in 3-pointers per game and have already broken the school record for 3-pointers in a season. Horizon League Preseason Player of the Year Brandi Brown is averaging 18.0 points and 7.9 rebounds in league play. She ranks ninth in YSU history in points and sixth in rebounds.
Green Bay has won 14 straight games against Youngstown State and is 26-1 all time against the Penguins. The Phoenix won the first 12 meetings from 1993 to 2005, and YSU’s lone win came at Green Bay when the Phoenix was ranked 23rd in the country on Feb. 19, 2005 (60-56). YSU is 0-12 at Beeghly Center against Green Bay with an overtime loss in 2004 and a two-point setback in 2004.
Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.
The Youngstown State University Lady Penguins upheld a tradition that merits special mention. Donned in pink socks, tape, neckties, laces, and headbands – they made a statement about breast cancer awareness. Because I have had relatives who fought that form of cancer and won, makes a burly 6′, 250 pound guy a little sappy. Having lost a couple of loved ones who did not get the cancer detected before the fatal stages makes me remind whoever reads this column to take the awareness portion seriously. I do.
That being said, the Lady Penguins took to the court to do battle with the Milwaukee Panthers. This game held significance toward the Penguins chances of possibly hosting a playoff game. Behind 10 points from Brandi Brown, YSU stormed out to a big lead, blew the big lead in the second half, then regained control. However, Milwaukee controlled things at the end and turned away the Penguins for a 76-71 win. YSU had their biggest first half of the season scoring 45, but had their worst conference second half of the season scoring just 26 points.
“There were a lot of possessions where we miscommunicated”, said Coach Bob Boldon. “When we watch the films we will se five or six possessions where if we could get a stop, the outcome of the game could have been different. We couldn’t stop anything in the second half though.”
In the first half, Youngstown State darted out to a 45-34 halftime lead. The Penguins had a lead as big as 13 as Brandi Brown paced the attack with 10. Liz Hornberger added nine points and Monica Touvelle hit a couple of threes. Courtney Lindfors had 11 for the Panthers and Sami Tucker had ten more. YSU took exactly as many shots (11) more than Milwaukee as their margin at the half. The keys to the big first half were plenty of offensive rebounding and good defense that caused some turnovers.
In the second half, the refs wanted to make sure the metal ball in their whistles didn’t rust, so they blew them frequently calling plenty of fouls. It got so bad that YSU committed enough fouls with just over 15 minutes to go in the half, that Milwaukee was in a very early one-and-one situation.
Milwaukee used an 18-7 run to catch YSU with 13:05 left in the game and tie things up at 50. Then it turned into a seesaw game the rest of the way and Milwaukee found themselves ahead 65-62 with 5:13 left. Hornberger then hit a three to match her career-high in points and making it a tie game again.
Milwaukee again jumped out to a three-point, 72-69 lead, with just over a minute left Lindfors scored from close range. Kelsea Fickiesen was fouled on the next possession but missed a pair of free throws that would have made it a one point game. Milwaukee then hit a three to salt the game away, eventually posting a 76-71 win.
Brown finished the game with 18 points for YSU (10-15, 4-10). Hornberger tied her career high with 12 points and Melissa Thompson had a good game with ten. The Penguins play their season finale against Green Bay at 2:05 on Saturday. It will mark the final game for Macey Nortey, Tierra Jones, and Kenya Middlebrooks, three good ones who are almost out of time on the court.
“We are not a tired team”, said Hornberger afterwards. “We can’t go into a half with an 11 point lead and then come out and take minutes off. We are not that good of a team to take time off.”
Milwaukee got 18 points each out of Tucker and Lindfors in improving to 6-18, and 3-10 in Horizon League play.
Youngstown State University and Butler came into a basketball game with nearly identical records. They played nearly an identical first half on the stat sheets, and consequently, this game went right down to the wire. When the dust cleared and the threes finally finished flying, Butler came away with a 65-63 win. Mandy McDivitt hit a big three with 2.3 seconds left to provide the difference in the game that could have really gone either way.
“Give her [McDivitt] credit”, exclaimed Boldon after the game. “She made, in my opinion, a very tough shot. From a purist perspective, it is a nice moment that she will remember for the rest of her life. From my perspective, it stinks.”
In the first half, YSU opened the lead to as big as eight, but the Bulldogs erased the deficit and took a halftime lead of 29-27. Heidi Schlegel had nine points to lead the Lady Penguins scoring attack. Brandi Brown had eight on 3-4 shooting and a pair of free throws. Butler got ten first half points out of Devin Brierly and nine more out of Mandy McDivitt. Statistically, the first half stats showed that the records of these two teams wasn’t the only thing they had in common. Butler chucked up 17 threes, while the Penguins attempted 15. Neither team attempted more than four first half free throws and both seemed reliant on the long ball.
In the second half, Butler changed up the defensive scheme and they were using a full-court press to slow YSU down. It worked as the Penguins scrambled to cross mid-court and had about half of the normal time on the shot clock to run their half court offense. Butler opened the second half with an 11-3 run and by the time the second half was below ten minutes, the Bulldogs held a 50-43 lead. Brierly and McDivitt were getting their threes to fall to increase the lead over that period of time.
Macey Nortey connected on a three with 9:20 to go in the game to make it 50-46. Sarah Hamm hit a bucket for Butler with just over two minutes to go in the game that stretched the lead to 58-55, but the next trip up the floor, the Lady Penguins tied the game at 58 on a three from Monica Touvelle. Hamm regained the lead fo Butler with another layup to make it 60-58.
Kenya Middlebrooks, aka ‘Miss Clutch’ lately, drilled a three with just over a minute to go in the game to give YSU their first lead since the first half, but it was short-lived as Butler was able to work the post for another easy deuce to regain a 62-61 lead. With 28 seconds left in the game and the Penguins trailing by just one, Brown drove to the hoop and was fouled. The Horizon League Preseason Player of The Year promptly swished two charity tosses to give her team the 63-62 lead. Butler failed to score and with nine seconds left in the game, Schlegel was fouled. Schlegel missed the front end of the one-and-one. Butler rebounded and McDivitt hit a big three to give the Bulldogs a a two-point lead with 2.3 seconds remaining.
YSU inbounded to half court where Brown caught the ball and quickly dished it to Nortey on the right between the circles. Nortey, with pressure in her face, could not get the ball to an open Middlebrooks in the right corner with enough time to get a shot off and Butler survived the last-ditch effort.
The Penguins got 23 points from Brown, who again provided the majority of the spark for the Penguins offense. Schlegel (above) finished the game with 13 markers. Kenya Middlebrooks had a balanced effort for the Penguins as she scored 7 points, had 5 rebounds and 3 assists.
Butler got good production out of tgeir senior guard, Brierly, who finished the contest with 22 points. McDivitt played big off of the Bulldog bench, contributing 18 points.
“We wanted to take Hamm out of the game”, said Boldon. “We were successful in doing so but we were not able to stop everything else, they beat us in other ways. You pick and choose your battles and it this loss is still a part of the process.”
The Lady Penguins hit the road for a pair of games, heading to UIC and Loyola. They return home to face Milwaukee on February 16.
Brandi Brown scored 20 points and gathered 10 rebounds to record her eighth double-double of the season (the 35th of her career) and scored in double digits for the 47th time in 51 games. Statistically speaking, it almost sounds like Brown could be the Horizon League Player of The Year. Youngstown State jumped on the back of a familiar horse in Brown, to get by Valparaiso, 64-58.
When told after the game it was her 35th double-double, Brown could only say, “Wow, I did not know I had that many.”
“This was different pressure tonight because we are usually not expected to win. We know we have to play hard regardless of whether we are a favorite to win or an underdog”, said Brown.
Brown tallied six first half points to lead the Penguins to a one-point advantage at the midway buzzer, 21-20. The Penguins were their own worst enemy in the half, despite having a lead. Shooting 1-12 from three-point range and 39.1% from the field, YSU did not convert any Valparaiso turnovers into points. The Crusaders got eight first half points from Laura Richards. Valpo struggled as badly as YSU in the opening stanza shooting only 32%.
In the second half, YSU opened a ten point lead, 38-28, with 12:09 remaining in the game. Monica Touvelle hit a three from the corner to supply the margin. Valpo (5-16, 1-9) closed in a bit going on a 5-0 run to make it 38-33, but Kelsea Fickiesen went on her own little 5-0 run to push the lead back to a comfortable ten points.
Tabitha Gerardot did her best to keep her Crusaders in the game. Gerardot scored 10 points over a five minute span that found Valparaiso trailing only 54-52 with 3:16 left in the game. Kenya Middlbrooks hit the dagger free throws to make it 60-55 with 13 seconds to go to secure the lead and the game for Youngstown State (10-11, 5-6). She went back to the line with a 60-58 lead and promptly drilled another pair for insurance.
It was not an easy game on the eyes. Both teams struggled at points, Youngstown State was just able piece together more in streaks and runs at a time than Valparaiso.
For the Penguins, Brown paved the way with 20 points. Touvelle, who finished with 11 points, and Fickiesen, who contributed 9 markers, did a good job scoring in the clutch when it seemed the Penguins were in peril.
“I was a little frustrated tonight”, said Coach Boldon. “It is hard to play good after the great atmosphere we had here Saturday night with two teams playing great basketball to go into a weeknight game where at times, we played okay. Success is something we are still learning here. There is not a whole lot of winning on the resumes of our players.”
Gerardot was sensational in the second half scoring all of her 15 points. She also gathered 9 rebounds for the Crusaders. Valpo only used six players the entire game. Ashley Timmerman contributed 14 points for Valpo.
The Penguins return to action at home on Saturday afternoon when they will square off against Butler. The game will be followed by The Game of Hope that Tony Spano has been working his butt off coordinating.
The role players have arguably been responsible for the dramatic turnaround for this years Youngstown State Lady Penguins basketball team. Everyone knew that Brandi Brown was good, and Coach Bob Boldon said at the beginning of the year that others will have to step up as teams sharpen their focus on shutting down Brown. Kenya Middlebrooks, a senior, has done exactly that. Middlebrooks now holds the record for three-pointers made in a game with eight treys and finished with 30 points against Detroit, not too shabby for a ‘role player’.
Paneech: Let’s start out by talking about this season. Has it been as big a success as you and your fellow Lady Penguins would have hoped for?
Middlebrooks: I think that season has been a successful one because we have a little more experience. This is the coaches second year and we were able to adapt to what he wants from us and pass that along to the incoming players.
Paneech: You played under Cindy Martin. It was not a productive period in YSU basketball history. Enter Coach Boldon, new assistants, and a new system. How hard is it to buy in with a changing of the guard?
Middlebrooks: It’s very difficult because you went two years putting all of your trust into a coach and a system. Our record did not reflect what we wanted to accomplish. With Coach Boldon, I kind of took on a different role and had to learn to shoot threes because that is what his system incorporates. It was difficult to learn, but it is nice to see results.
Paneech: You mentioned three-pointers. You have that big square net device that rebounds the ball and you shoot sometimes 100 of those threes toward that thing before or after any given practice. Do you ever see that apparatus in your mind during a game?
Middlebrooks: (laughs) No, we don’t visualize it during a game. We have a couple of different things that we use including that particular piece of equipment. We also use a machine that will measure the arc of our shots to make sure we are getting the right amount of height on a shot. I never really thought about arc a couple of years ago, it was more ‘shoot if you are open’, now we concentrate on threes because we are more reliant on them.
Paneech: How “in-tune” is this staff with the players? I know if I ask Coach Boldon why Brandi sneezed in the second half, he would give me an accurate and honest answer.
Middlebrooks: We are very in-tune. This second year has been much easier. We have gotten to know all of them a bit better during the offseason. During the season, we work very hard with them on different drills. I would say that we know them pretty good and they know us just as well.
Paneech: In high school, were you the best player on your team? Also, do you think when people get to the college level that they can’t all be the best player on a team anymore?
Middlebrooks: I played my high school ball in Toledo and was a pretty decent player. It wasn’t really that difficult of a transition because when players get to the college level, I don’t feel that they come with a big ego. You adapt to a role and the coaches tell you what contribution they expect from you. I didn’t even know about this place when I was a senior in high school. My head coach knew Bernard Scott and sent him a tape. I came to see the campus and was offered a scholarship, who was I not to take it? (laughs)
Paneech: This team has been labeled by the Horizon League as a lemon. Brandi Brown gets named Horizon League Preseason Player of The Year, and your team gets picked to finish last. Winning games, the role players have been the difference, agree?
Middlebrooks: Brandi is always a key factor because we always get things going through her. I don’t think it is an issue though, when our shots fall, we are winning games. When they don’t fall, we have to get back in the gym and continue working on our shots.
Paneech: Who is your best friend on this team and why?
Middlebrooks: I call her ‘babe’, and she is Macey Nortey. We have grown up together since freshman year in the dorms. We have been through a lot as far as different coaching staffs and players coming after us and leaving before us. She is my best friend, and I can tell her anything, I love her.
Paneech: What are your reflections of Youngstown State University?
Middlebrooks: I really love it here. People say a lot of bad things about this area, but the campus is great, small enough that I can get to class pretty quickly and the weather is the same as Toledo. There are a lot of different cultures here though and I have really enjoyed my time here. My grades are in the A-B range, I will be graduating in May. Then I will try to find a job in social work in the Youngstown area or Toledo.
Paneech: In the past, you had the famous obstruction on your face, the glasses. Now that Heidi Schlegel and Kelsea Fickiesen are around with their face shields, has the pressure been removed?
Middlebrooks: I have worn the goggles since my freshman year of high school. I have had plenty of time to adjust and everything is the same, I am used to them. My last coach wanted me to wear contacts so bad, but I like to be a little different on the court and having the goggles on makes me different.
Paneech: It is a hard balance for today’s student athlete to keep the grades up and to keep the performance level up, a very demanding pair of requirements. What is a typical day like?
Middlebrooks: Well, I wake up, go to class then go to practice and then get to back to class. I then go to either the library or the lab in Cushwa to study. I get done at about nine, then I head to the dorm and continue to do more work. I am usually up until 11. I call home everyday and I like to cook a lot.
Paneech: Yeah? What do you like to cook?
Middlebrooks: Oh man… anything. Beef stew, steaks, chicken, pork chops — just a whole bunch of fattening foods. I like to cook greens and cornbread.
Paneech: What are you watching on television?
Middlebrooks: I have shows that I watch weekly or daily. I watch Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy. I like Jersey Shore, any real-world show. I used to watch American Idol, but now I only watch when they have the auditions at the beginning.
Paneech: Interesting, Desperate Housewives. So if you were to equate the characters on that show to people on your team and coaches you who would play what roles?
Middlebrooks: Susan Delfino (Teri Hatcher) would be Heidi Schlegel. Liz Hornberger would probably be Bree Van de Kamp (Marcia Cross). Lynette Scavo (Felicity Huffman) is a tough one, I would say Tierra Jones could fit that role. Gabrielle Solis (Eva Longoria) would definitely be Brandi. If you watch Brandi, she loves clothes, nails, all that stuff, just like Mrs. Solice. Coach Boldon would probably fit the role of a Tom Scavo because he has kids and his life revolves around them and he loves them very much. Coach Schrader loves to gossip, she is great, but she could be Mrs McClusky.
One Word Answers With Kenya Middlebrooks
Favorite Color: Purple.
Favorite Breakfast Food: Hot Pizza.
Fast Food Order: Smoky Bones – Smoked Wings, Ribs, Fries, and Cornbread.
Favorite Drink: Blue Gatorade.
Worst Class Here: Psychology.
Best Class Here: Human Behavior I & II.
Worst Habit: Biting My Nails.
NBA Player: Dwayne Wade.
Dream Destination: Jamaica.
One Bad Thing In The World Worth Changing: Homelessness.
Biggest Phobia: Snakes.