By joe scalzo
In one of the strangest scheduling quirks you’ll find in the Horizon League — and that’s being kind — the Youngstown State women’s basketball team will host Cleveland State tonight, then fly to Chicago for a noon game on Saturday against Loyola.
“It’s crazy,” said Penguins coach Bob Boldon. “We’ll play [tonight], get on a plane, practice Friday afternoon and be done by lunch time Saturday.
“It would be great if we had class Sunday; we’d be back in time for school. I can’t think of any other benefit.”
When asked why the Loyola game couldn’t have been pushed to Sunday (or, you know, coupled with his earlier trip to nearby UIC), Boldon smirked and said, “I don’t know. They didn’t even consult me.”
The Penguins won 72-63 at Cleveland State on Jan. 24, but Boldon quickly pointed out that the Vikings won the previous two meetings, including a three-point win in last year’s Horizon League tournament that ended YSU’s season.
CSU senior forward Shalonda Winton, one of the finalists for Horizon League player of the year, leads the conference in scoring (22.6 per game) and is second in rebounding (10.4) and blocks (1.3) and fourth in assists (4.1).
“Shalonda’s fantastic,” Boldon said. “She’s one of the most dynamic players in the league. Very difficult to guard. Very active on the other end of the floor as well, defensively.
“She gives them a chance to win every single night.”
With a win, the Penguins (17-6, 7-3) would match their best season in the Horizon League (they went 8-10 in 2007-08) and inch closer to their first 20-win season since 1999-00.
Outside of a flu outbreak in Wisconsin, YSU can’t catch first-place Green Bay (21-2, 11-0) in the standings. But considering YSU is just three years removed from going 0-30 and has never had a winning season in the Horizon League, there’s no shortage of things to play for.
“I haven’t really talked about it,” Boldon said of the turnaround. “Much like we haven’t talked about the Loyola game. We’ll play [today] and when that game’s over, we’ll get ready to go to Chicago and get ready to do whatever we need to do up there.
“They’ve been very much day-to-day, matter-of-fact in their approach and I think they’ve handled it pretty well for being as unique as it is to a lot of these players.”