YSU sophomore is contributing off bench
By Joe Scalzo
Here’s the full list of scenarios in which a player like Heidi Schlegel would have come off the bench for Youngstown State a few years ago.
After her name was called during pre-game introductions.
After full timeouts.
After the game. *
Back then, the only time you saw “YSU” and “depth” in the same sentence was when the phrase “out of” was involved.
Since returning from a concussion to start the season, Schlegel (aka “the team’s second-leading scorer and rebounder”) has come off the bench in the last nine games, fueling a Penguins team that no longer runs out of gas at the end of games.
“At first I was kind of taken aback by it but I kind of like it,” Schlegel said of coming off the bench. “I can get a feel for the game and go in and play my hardest for my teammates.
“We have players that can come in [as reserves] and we don’t really lose much. I definitely think that will help us.”
Schlegel, a sophomoore, is second on the team in points (10.9 per game), rebounds (4.7), free throws made (4.2 per game) and free throw percentage (.844). Those numbers are all up from her freshman year when she started 17 of 27 games. (Her minutes are up this year by about 30 seconds per game.)
While the Penguins still aren’t 10 deep — only two other reserves average more than 10 minutes per game — they’re deep enough to spell every starter not named senior Brandi Brown.
(Brown averages 33.4 minutes per game — easily the most on the team. When head coach Bob Boldon was asked if he was worried about her wearing down, he shook his head said, “The only thing I worry about is getting her enough shots every game.”)
The Penguins (9-3), who are off to their best start since 1997-98, play their last non-conference game of the season Friday at VCU. They have the second-best record of any Horizon League team despite being picked to finish eighth in the nine-team league’s preseason poll.
“The team camaraderie is a lot better this year,” said Schlegel, a sophomore forward. “It’s really enjoyable to play on this team and I think everybody has a sense of urgency to play hard possession after possession, which we lacked in the past.
“I think we still have some work to do but I definitely think our mindset is a lot different this year.”
This is the deepest and most talented team of Boldon’s three-year tenure, but it’s also his most experienced — a big reason for YSU’s success, he said.
“We’re playing a lot of returners,” he said. “Kids that have been here and kids that have been through the tough times and ... kids that wanted to change that.”