The men’s team is seeking its second straight victory when the Flashes invade Beeghly.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN — Youngstown State men’s basketball coach Jerry Slocum feels the Penguins’ first two games this season will definitely help them get ready for the rest of the season.
The Penguins (1-1) opened the season against Xavier, dropping an 83-57 contest on the road and then waltzed past Hiram 81-41 in their home opener on Sunday.
“We got some good things out of our first two games,” said Slocum. “We played in a great environment against a really good team in our opener and then we got accustomed to the home environment in the second game and were able to see a lot of good things.
“Now we bring in a great Kent State team, which is as talented as anybody we’ll face this season,” he added.
The Penguins and Flashes (2-1) will clash tonight in a 7:35 start at Beeghly Center. It will be the second game of a doubleheader as the YSU women and Kent will square off in the opener at 5:15 p.m.
“The whole idea in these games now is to be tested and we will be tested against Kent,” Slocum added. “They are a very tough, physical team.”
A year ago the Penguins dropped a 82-74 decision at Kent which gave the Flashes a 25-17 advantage in the series.
“We are a totally different team from a year ago at this time,” Slocum said. “Everything now has been a lot more constructive, just because they’ve been around for a year.”
Tonight the Penguins will be trying for their 300th win at Beeghly Center. Kent State has won the last two meetings overall in the series.
The Penguins have used most of their roster in the first two games which is something that Slocum enjoys seeing.
“I’ve been happy with the way we’ve shared the ball and the minutes of playing time,” he added.
The Penguins returned their top four scorers from a year ago and junior Vytas Sulskis has picked up right where he left off with an 11 points per game average. Reserve guard Vance Cooksey is the team’s top scorer with a 12-point average after scoring 18 points against Hiram.
Seniors DeAndre Mays, Sirlester Martin, Kelvin Bright and Dallas Blocker will join Sulskis in the starting lineup against the Flashes.
Slocum has also been impressed with the play of redshirt freshman Eddie D’Haiti, who had his first college double-double against Hiram with 12 points and 10 rebounds and also added six assists.
“He’s the best passing big man I’ve ever coached,” added Slocum.
Depth and experience are the two keys that Slocum is hoping will carry the Penguins this season. He can go nine or 10 players deep on the bench. He used 12 players against Hiram and the three on the roster who didn’t play are all being redshirted this season.
Slocum enjoys playing area teams like Kent State and Akron and feels that those series need to be continued.
“This is a game that we have on the schedule which is a fan favorite,” he said. “It’s a big first semester game and hopefully we can put 3,000 or 4,000 fans in the gym.”
“This is a game that fans can be excited to go see and it will be a fun night,” he added. “Anytime you can put 3,000 or 4,000 fans in the place it’s going to be a fun night.”
Following tonight’s game the Penguins will play at St. Peter’s (N.J.) on Saturday and then return home to play Geneva on Nov. 24. They will then play five straight road games beginning at Pittsburgh on Nov. 28 and that stretch will also include three Horizon League games at Detroit, Wright State and Green Bay.