By Joe Catullo Jr.
With 15:37 remaining in Saturday’s game against Marygrove, Youngstown State guard Kendrick Perry was all alone heading to the hoop after Blake Allen passed it his way.
Perry glided to the rim, lifted his red Nikes from the Dom Rosselli court and scored two points on a layup instead of his usual two-handed slam dunk. It was Perry’s 1,000th career point, the 33rd player in YSU history to do so.
“My legs are kind of tired,” Perry said laughing, regarding the layup. “I figured I’d just lay it in.”
YSU took a timeout to honor Perry’s accomplishment during the 93-52 rout. Fans rose from the seats and showed their appreciation for the junior.
“I’m glad I got it out of the way,” Perry said. “I think it shows just all of my hard work paying off. I still have a long way to go, but I’m definitely appreciative of all the time, all the hours the coaches and my teammates put in. And I’m just glad to be here.”
Not only that, but Perry also recorded his 300th career assist earlier in the game.
“It says more about my teammates than it does to me,” he said. “I couldn’t get those assists if it wasn’t for my teammates putting it in. All the credit is to them for that.”
The layup was the last time YSU fans saw Perry as coach Jerry Slocum pulled him. The other starters including Blake Allen and Damian Eargle were eventually taken out as well.
Slocum could not talk during his normal post-game conference because of a cold. Maybe it was the temperature difference after spending last week in Florida for two YSU games. Or maybe it was the eight dry-aged New York strip steaks he purchased on Christmas Eve. Whatever the case may be, assistant coach Michael Wernicki filled Slocum’s seat.
“Not good,” Wernicki said laughing about how it felt to take the reign for one game. “It’s easy for me to sit here after a win. If he was sick after a loss it be tough.”
Wernicki also said Perry’s 300 assists are more impressive than the 1,000 points.
“He’s an all-around player, he contributes in every aspect, and he’s special,” Wernicki said. “Every program in the country wants to have guys like that. He embodies what a student-athlete is. He means a lot to the image of the program and the way we want to play.”
As for the game, YSU (8-5) led by 26 at halftime and never lost focus. The bench got productive minutes as every starter was pulled with 10:13 remaining in the game. Wernicki was happiest with the assist to turnover ratio, which was 29-10.
“We were happy that we didn’t throw the ball all over the gym,” he said. “We’ve been off since last Friday, so when you’re off for five or six days it really takes a toll. We were still in shape, but you’ve got to get your legs back.”