By Joe Scalzo
On the list of headlines you wouldn’t have expected to read a few years ago, this one ranks pretty high: “Youngstown State women’s basketball coach cautions against overconfidence after hot start.”
Three years removed from a winless season, the Penguins are 2-0 for the first time in 13 years thanks to wins over Big East member Pitt and Mid-American Conference member Buffalo.
To put that in perspective, consider this: In 2009, Pittsburgh beat YSU by 52 and Buffalo won by 54.
“I hope it’s not a surprise but I do understand where we’ve come from with some of the deficits we had to overcome in the past and maybe the psyche coming into some games,” said Penguins coach Bob Boldon. “I think the mindset of our kids is we’re playing to win games and I think we all know that wasn’t always the case.”
Even in Boldon’s first year, when the Penguins went 6-24, he said he and his staff had to convince YSU’s players that they could beat teams, not just play with them.
“I think they’re starting to buy into things,” Boldon said. “I think we’re getting a lot closer to that.”
Despite playing without sophomore forward Heidi Schlegel (concussion), the Penguins won both games by double digits thanks to typically-stellar play from senior Brandi Brown (she’s averaging 20 points and 13 rebounds per game) and surprisingly-stellar play from freshman point guard Shar’Rae Davis (11.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 6.5 apg).
“Hearing that we won against Pitt might be surprising to some people but I feel like we could do it all along,” said Davis, the reigning Horizon League newcomer of the week. “We’re really confident in each other and we know that we’re going to fight every day to be better, to be a better team and do everything great.”
Boldon said he appreciates the excitement around YSU’s basketball programs — the men’s team also won its first two games — but with 27 more regular season games ahead, his team needs to look forward, not back.
“We’re happy we won two games but we understand that was last week,” he said. “Now it’s time to get ready for our games this week.”