By Joe Scalzo
Last season, on the day after Christmas, most of the Youngstown State women’s basketball team flew from Youngstown to New York City for a game against Stony Brook.
Two players flew from Los Angeles. Another from Idaho. Another drove from Reading, Pa. The team came together, spent a few hours in Times Square, stayed in a hotel an hour away and drove to Long Island the next day to play a 2-10 team.
Not surprisingly, the Penguins lost by seven.
“We came out really flat,” Penguins coach Bob Boldon said. “Unfortunately, that team never recovered from being flat.”
A similar scenario played out on Tuesday night. Two days after an emotional win over Miami (Ohio) — “That was a significant win for our program, probably the best we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Boldon said — YSU drove five hours to play an 0-4 Northern Kentucky team that is making the transition from Division II.
The Penguins came out flat, fell behind by 14 in the first eight minutes, took a five-point lead with 2:21 and scored one point the rest of the way, falling 66-64.
“After 37 1/2 minutes of play, we put ourselves in position to win, when there were times in the first half when it looked like we had no chance to even keep the game close,” Boldon said. “Our kids kept battled through it and just didn’t do a good job of finishing the game, unfortunately.”
The loss revealed something that got overshadowed by the Penguins’ 4-0 start — they’re very much a work in progress.
Two starters (freshman Shar’Rae Davis and junior Karen Flagg) weren’t on the team last season. Neither was a key rotation player (freshman Amanda Barger).
And sophomore Heidi Schlegel missed the first three games with a concussion and is still rounding into form.
“We played the first three games without Heidi and the new kids played really well,” Boldon said. “But with new kids you’re going to have ups and downs as they try to learn our offensive system, which can be complex at times.
“By no means am I saying it’s the new kids’ fault that we lost — that was a collective coaching/playing effort across the board — but you’re going to deal with that. You’re going to deal with ups and downs.”
YSU plays host to Stony Brook tonight and Boldon believes his team will be ready this time.
“I know this team is excited and has been looking forward to playing that game because we didn’t feel we gave our best effort there last year,” he said.