Thursday is Valentine's Day and Youngstown State University has a sweetheart of a deal going on for area basketball fans.
The men's and women's basketball teams will play host to a Horizon League doubleheader at Beeghly Center with the women playing league-leading UW-Green Bay at 5:15 p.m., followed by the men's game against Rollie Massimino's Cleveland State Vikings at 7:35 p.m.
It will be Youth Night; all children ages 12 and under will receive a game ticket for just $1 as part of a special national "NCAA Take A Kid to the Game" program. The first 2,500 fans will receive a set of 2001-02 YSU basketball trading cards featuring the seniors from the men's and women's teams.
Uniform sale: As a special feature the YSU athletic department will hold a special Penguin uniform sale throughout the evening in the front lobby of Beeghly Center.
Fans can dress like the Penguins as football, basketball and other sports uniforms and warm-ups will be sold for $5 each.
The funds will benefit the General Athletic Scholarship Fund.
"We receive numerous inquiries about old YSU uniforms," stated Rick Love, associate athletic director. "We hope the fans will enjoy an opportunity to look through our uniforms and support the scholarship fund."
Two special groups will perform at halftime. The Steppin' Out Dance Center from Girard, under the direction of Rose Taylor, will perform at halftime of both games.
The U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps make their first appearance in Ohio in 10 years. The only unit of its kind in the armed forces, The Fife and Drum Corps is part of The 3rd Infantry stationed in Fort Myer, Va.
The musicians of this unit recall the days of the American Revolution as their uniforms are replicas worn by the musicians in the Continental Army.
This traveling unit will consist of 22 musicians, using 11-hole fifes, handmade rope-tensioned drums and single-valve bugles from the 18th century.
The Corps has entertained millions of spectators at major sporting events such as the Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby, Indianapolis 500, NCAA Bowl Games, NBA Games and the Olympics.
In addition, their primary function is to welcome foreign dignitaries and heads of state to the White House.
Tickets available: Tickets for the YSU basketball doubleheader are available at the athletic ticket office, by calling (330) 742-1YSU or on game night at Beeghly Center. The gates will open at 4:15 p.m. For additional information, contact the YSU athletic department at (330) 742-1978.
The YSU basketball teams appear to be going in opposite directions as this season winds down.
Saturday the women beat Butler 62-52, while the men were losing at UW-Milwaukee 96-76.
The women are tied for third place in the standings and play at Detroit today and could be all alone in third place with a win over the Titans.
The men have lost 10 straight games and are 1-11 in the Horizon League and in last place. For the Penguins to get out of the cellar -- and they have no chance of getting beyond eighth place -- they need to beat Cleveland State on Thursday night. Because the only other chance for a league win will come a week later when UW-Green Bay comes to town and the Phoenix has won two league games, one of them over the Penguins.
The Penguins are giving an all-out effort, but it never seems like enough. Poor shooting and the lack of manpower has been the team's main problems.
XPete Mollica covers YSU athletics for The Vindicator. Write to him at email@example.com.