By Joe Scalzo
Youngstown State junior Kendrick Perry needs just 17 points to reach 1,000 for his career and he’s got a chance to do it at home today against the weakest team on YSU’s schedule.
“It would be good,” he said, breaking into a grin, “but I’m coming for Damian’s [Eargle] blocks record. I’m going to publicly state that.”
Perry, who only trails Eargle by 229 blocks (so far), would need to play another 40 seasons to catch him, which would be fine with YSU coach Jerry Slocum.
“He’s what’s good about college basketball,” Slocum said of Perry. “Every single day he comes in with a smile on his face. Every day he enjoys the game. He has a real passion and love affair for basketball and it’s evident.”
Perry needs 17 points, one steal and two assists to join Bruce Timko as the only Penguins to record 1,000 points, 300 assists and 130 steals in a career. That could happen today against Marygrove (1-14), an NAIA Division II team that will serve as YSU’s last tuneup before Horizon League play begins next week.
YSU (7-5) beat Cleveland State in its last game of 2011, but Slocum is glad 2012’s finale isn’t as challenging. He had just 10 of his 14 players available for practice Thursday and didn’t expect his final three players to arrive until 6 p.m. Friday.
“I’m concerned that we’re out of shape,” said Slocum, who last had his team together on Dec. 21. “It’s been a concern because obviously we leave on New Year’s Day for two teams who might be the two best teams in the league right now in UIC and Loyola. So we have a lot of work ahead of us the next three or four days.”
YSU women’s coach Bob Boldon can sympathize. Although he had his whole team back on Friday, “we look grossly out of shape, just like you would expect after a six-day layoff,” he said.
The Penguins play Bucknell in the second game of today’s doubleheader at Beeghly Center — the men tip off at 2:05 p.m. with the women following at 4:35 — and their opponent poses a much bigger threat than Marygrove.
Bucknell led YSU by 17 points early in last year’s game before the Penguins rallied for a one-point win. The Bison (7-4) have won seven of their last nine games and have already won two more games than they did last season.
To win, rebounding will be key, Boldon said.
“I think that’s directly tied into this game because they’re such a good rebounding team,” Boldon said. “It’s a good test to see where we are. We’ve obviously made strides in that area but that would help us immensely.”