Ex YSU coach is going to big dance
She is an assistant coach with Horizon champion UW-Green Bay.
& lt;a href=mailto:email@example.com & gt;By PETE MOLLICA & lt;/a & gt;
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
Youngstown State's basketball teams are finished for the season, but a former Penguin is hoping her season will be continued for a few more weeks.
Liz Hauger Grzesk, a Boardman native, former YSU basketball standout and former assistant coach, has been enjoying the season at Wisconsin-Green Bay, where she is in her first season as an assistant coach.
Grzesk was a three-year starter at YSU (1994-97) and assisted coach Ed DiGregorio from 1998-2002.
Last year, her husband, Gary, who was an assistant coach with John Robic's YSU men's team, was offered an assistant coaching job at UW-Green Bay, his alma-mater.
Fortunately for Liz, a job opened up with the UW-Green Bay women's team and she was a perfect fit for Phoenix coach Kevin Borseth.
Having coached against Borseth and the Phoenix the year before while with the Penguins, Grzesk knew that she was going to a strong program.
This season the Phoenix posted a 27-3 record while rolling to their second straight Horizon League championship and an automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament.
Phoenix to play Washington
UW-Green Bay will play Washington in the first round of the West Regional on Saturday in Eugene, Ore.
"The veteran experience on this team is what makes it so good," said Grzesk. "We start four seniors and they are the ones who make things happen.
"This year we played some very good teams in our non-conference schedule and this also got us ready for league play," she added.
Grzesk knows all about how important veteran play can be to a team since she was one of those veterans her junior season at Youngstown State in 1995-96 when the Penguins posted a 20-9 record and made their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Her senior year at YSU, the Penguins were 23-6, but lost to Troy State in the final of the Mid-Continent Conference tournament.
Reminds her of Penguins
However, Grzesk said that it was the 1997-98 team at YSU, one that she neither played for or coached, that most reminded her of this year's Green Bay team.
"That team, which went on to beat Memphis in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, was a lot like this year's team," she said. "They had that great senior leadership and lots of experience and they played with great confidence every game.
"This team is a lot like that," she said. "They know what it takes to be good, but at the same time they have never won at the NCAA Tournament level, so this is a new experience for them."
The Phoenix, led by the Horizon League's player of the year, Kristy Loiselle, defeated Detroit in the league tournament championship game 83-59 last week.
Grzesk was hoping Green Bay would be seeded somewhere between No. 5 and 10. They received a No. 8 seed.
"We would rather be a 10 than an 8 or 9," she added. "At least then you have a chance in the second round. The No. 8 or 9 seed, if it wins the first round will have to play the No. 1 seed in the region and more than likely on its home floor."
Husband gets to watch
"We're just excited to be in the tournament and looking forward to our first game," Grzesk added. "I'm glad that Gary will be able to go with us wherever we play. It was nice that he was able to be here last weekend for the Horizon tournament."
UW-Green Bay's men's team lost in the first round of the Horizon Tournament to YSU, 65-61.
Grzesk finished her playing career at YSU ranked No. 8 on the all-time scoring list with 1,468 points. The Penguins won conference titles her last three years and she was the conference player of the year in 1996-97 and made the all-conference team both her junior and senior years.
In her first two seasons as an assistant coach with the Penguins, the team posted 20-9 and 22-9 records, the latter team earning the school's third NCAA Tournament bid.