YOUNGSTOWN -- It has been almost two weeks since Jerry Slocum has been hired as the new head men's basketball coach at Youngstown State.
Already, I've heard some talk around town and over the Internet that observers have the feeling that the new coach may be in over his head here.
Give the guy a break -- he's only been on the job two weeks. In that time, he's gone through an evaluation of his returning players, been out on the recruiting circuit every available moment and oh, yes, he trying to sell his home in Erie and get settled here in the Mahoning Valley.
The day (April 10) that Slocum said yes to YSU Athletic Director Ron Strollo, the men's basketball program was in better shape than it has been for the last six years.
Jerry Slocum is a proven, successful head coach. Former head coach John Robic had proven nothing to nobody before he took this job.
Slocum is expected to end up with about 9 or 10 of the scheduled 12 returning players off last season's team.
Jones, Mendsreported leaving
It has already been rumored that freshman guard Dan Jones of Niles will leave the program for NAIA Walsh College. And the latest word around school is that junior point guard Jonathan Mends is also leaving the program. Sophomore walk-on Allen Deep is also reported to be leaving.
That would leave Slocum without a returning point guard. But then again, Mends, who started 27 of 28 games, averaged just 5.6 points a game, committed almost as many turnovers as assists and shot just 22 percent from 3-point range and 56 percent from the foul line.
Jones came to the Penguins from Niles McKinley where he was an outstanding shooter. For YSU, he took just 11 field goal attempts in 21 games and 92 minutes of play.
It shouldn't be hard to find a capable replacement for either.
It hasn't been officially announced yet, but the Penguins will be playing against two very close rivals next basketball season and at home, too. It has been reported that YSU will play host to Akron and Kent State men at Beeghly Center, which should help Slocum improve the season attendance very quickly. Dates and times of those games will be announced later.
The Penguins have one open scholarship, but if Jones and Mends leave, it would be three. Slocum and his new staff are working hard at finding a point guard and a post player.
Michael Wernicki and Brian DePaoli have officially joined Slocum's staff. Both Wernicki and DePaoli were present at Slocum's announcement press conference two weeks ago and have been working with the program full-time since early last week.
Wernicki was a recruiting coordinator at Canisius College, so he knows what he's doing. And DePaoli has been Slocum's right and left hand for the past five seasons at Gannon.
Wernicki and DePaolo are also familiar with one another since they coached together at Mercyhurst College.
Basketball campsslated in June
Slocum announced recently that his first Youngstown State Basketball Camps will be in June at Beeghly Center.
Slocum has worked numerous camps in his 30 years as a collegiate head coach and said he is looking forward to playing host to his first YSU camps in mid-June.
"Camps are a great opportunity for my staff and I to meet the young people in our community and help them gain a better understanding for the game of basketball," Slocum said. "Our camps are designed to help improve their skills, while having fun, and we hope everyone brings a positive basketball-loving attitude."
The Week One Camp will be June 13-16 while the Week Two Camp will be June 20-23. Cost per session is $85 and campers can attend both sessions, which run from 8:30 a.m. to noon each day. The camp is set up for ages 6-17 and the registration deadline is May 27. For more information or for a camp brochure, contact the YSU basketball office at (330) 941-3004.
XPete Mollica covers YSU athletics for The Vindicator. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.