Heidi Schlegel rediscovers her game as YSU women head into Horizon tournament
By Joe Scalzo
Ask YSU freshman forward Heidi Schlegel to explain her midseason slump and she won’t blame the ankle tendinitis that sidelined her for two weeks.
She also won’t blame rust or reduced minutes or facemask fog or Wapakoneta withdrawal or February Funk (the lesser-known cousin of March Madness).
“I was just out of it,” she said with a shrug. “My mindset wasn’t right. So, I had to change.”
Since going scoreless in eight minutes against Green Bay on Feb. 18, the Wapakoneta native has returned to her early-season form over the past three games, averaging 16 points and nine rebounds. (Coincidentally — or not — she shed her trademark clear facemask just before last week’s road trip.)
“She’s done a really nice job for us,” said YSU coach Bob Boldon, whose team has lost eight straight. “She struggled a little bit about a month ago and got it together.
“It’s a good sign of maturity and I think it’s exciting for the future of our program with her and with [freshman guard] Kelsea Fickiesen playing well.”
After redshirting last season with a foot injury, Schlegel broke into the starting lineup at the start of this season and was averaging 10.9 points through her first 15 games. But she’s been inconsistent since returning from her ankle injury on Jan. 26.
Fickiesen, meanwhile, has played better as the season has progressed but, like all freshmen, has her ups and downs, Boldon said.
“They’re freshmen,” Boldon said. “They’re going to play good and they’re going to play bad and they’re going to learn from it.
“They’re both very cerebral kids. They know the game very, very well and they’ll continue to get better. That’s part of the process, trying to get them some minutes and dealing with some learning pains and mistakes — not only by them but by all our kids. It’s frustrating but it is what it is.”
Two years removed from an 0-30 season, the Penguins (10-19, 4-14 Horizon) seemed capable of finishing in the top half of the Horizon League standings after winning eight of their first 14 games.
But they’ve since dropped 13 of 15 — a streak that includes overtime losses to Green Bay and Wright State (the league’s best and third-best teams) and a win over No. 2 Detroit. It’s a streak that also includes two losses to Milwaukee (tied for second-worst) and Saturday’s 10-point defeat to a below-average Cleveland State team.
“It’s not something that’s going to happen as quickly as we would all like it to happen,” Boldon said of the turnaround. “You’ve got to deal with some highs, you’ve got to deal with some lows. You’ve got to deal with some good games and some bad games. There’s a lot more that goes into it than all the sudden playing good basketball and then you do it the rest of the time.
“There’s a lot of habits in there that we’re trying to change and a lot of new habits that we’re trying to create. Obviously I’m frustrated with the length that it has taken — I’m sure a lot of people are — but it’s something that’s going to take as long as it takes.”
Bad mojo aside, the Penguins have a chance to end this season with a few positives when they play at CSU tonight in the first round of the Horizon League tournament.
“It’ll be good,” Schlegel said of playing the Vikings again so soon. “We just need to regroup and come out ready to play.”