Penguins are set for visit to 18th-ranked Butler
Youngstown State will take on the Bulldogs in Indianapolis on Wednesday.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- A lot of people thought Youngstown State men's basketball coach Jerry Slocum was crazy early this season when he put his Penguins up against Big Ten basketball powers Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan, all on the road.
But Slocum knows that those games prepared his team for just about anything they would face the rest of the year, including Wednesday night's Horizon League battle against No. 18 ranked Butler University in Indianapolis.
The Penguins (8-10, 3-3 Horizon) will take on the Bulldogs (15-2, 3-1) in a 7 p.m. tip-off at Hinkle Field House.
"This is one of the top basketball teams in the United States and we will be facing a great task, but it's going to be a fun game to be in," Slocum said. "It is definitely a win-win situation for us, because nobody expects us to go up there and win."
"People thought I was crazy for playing games at Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan," Slocum said. "But these kids will never be in an environment like they were in those games and it will definitely help us when we go to Butler."
Dropped in rankings
The Bulldogs were ranked as high as No. 12 a week ago, but then were upset by Horizon League opponent UIC 73-67 in overtime in Chicago and slipped to 18th.
"They [Butler] are one of the top 20 teams in the country defensively and they win a lot of games with their defense," he said. "Almost every win they have held the opposition in the 55-to-62 point range."
Slocum is excited about his own team also, especially they way they played in Saturday night's 81-63 win over UW-Milwaukee at Beeghly Center.
Seniors Quin Humphrey and Keston Roberts have been the go-to guys for the Penguins all season long, but Saturday they got good support from junior Byron Davis, sophomore Jack Liles and junior John Barber as the Penguins put five players in double figures.
"Byron is really just starting to find his rhythm on the floor which is normal since he missed an entire year of basketball," Slocum said.
"Jack Liles has been coming on strong of lately and has been a big help, while John Barber also came through for us on Saturday," Slocum said.
"We've been a good team defensively all season and we've played exceptionally well in the second half, so the key for us on Wednesday is to play a strong first half and be in the contest," he said.
"We're unique in how we play and because of our size, but we match up pretty good against Butler, but we have to shoot the ball well to have any chance," he added.
Following Wednesday's contest the Penguins will return home to play Cleveland State on Saturday in a 7:05 tip-off at Beeghly Center.