By Joe Scalzo
Youngstown State junior Monica Touvelle has some advice for anyone stressing over an accounting final.
“Don’t take accounting,” she said, laughing.
Fresh off finals week, the Penguins will get maybe their biggest (physical) test of the season today when they travel to play No. 25 West Virginia.
“West Virginia might be the best team on our schedule,” YSU women’s basketball coach Bob Boldon said. “They’ll be the most athletic and they’ll play the hardest. It’s the best combination of those two things that we’ll play all year.
“It’ll be a good challenge for us.”
And, presumably, it’ll be a better challenge than what West Virginia faced in last year’s opener, when the Mountaineers held the Penguins to 20 percent shooting from the floor and raced to a 69-37 victory.
“It was our first game of the season and we didn’t have any film to watch and didn’t have that great of a game plan,” said Touvelle, a Boardman High graduate. “This year we’re able to watch them and see what they do and we’ll definitely have a great game plan this week.
“It just depends on whether we execute it or not.”
The Penguins (7-2) are off to their best start since the 1997-98 season and have already beaten one major-conference team, upsetting a Pitt team that won its next five games.
YSU hasn’t played since last Sunday’s win over Division III Wilmington and Boldon said he used this week to work on some of the deficiencies his team has shown through the first nine games.
“Last year their [West Virginia’s] defense gave us fits; they were switching on all our screens and we had a tough time scoring or even getting good shots,” Boldon said. “It’s nice to have a week to work on something like that.
“It’s a good challenge. A top 25 team on the road in a pretty good environment.”
The Penguins were 6-4 after 10 games last season, so Touvelle cautioned against making too much of YSU’s hot start. Last year’s team finished 10-20 with a nine-game losing streak.
“We did start out pretty decent last year but once we got to league play, we slipped a little bit,” she said. “We need to keep playing this strong the whole season.”