By Joe Scalzo
At times this season, Youngstown State men’s basketball coach Jerry Slocum has been unhappy with his team’s focus and performance — particularly at home — but he’s never complained about its leadership.
That didn’t change last weekend, even after a 41-point home loss to Detroit.
“I’ve really been proud of our leadership in the program,” Slocum said. “It has not been a tough thing in terms of coaches. The kids have really taken ownership in terms of how we played at home and want to get back to it.”
The Penguins now head to Wisconsin for the longest (and coldest) road trip of the conference season. Tonight, they play at Green Bay team that lost to YSU by 17 points in the first round of last year’s Horizon League tournament but are 7-1 at home this season.
“We have two games coming up this week, two very tough places to play,” said junior guard Kendrick Perry. “I think if we take care of business, we should be good.”
To win, the Penguins need more from two starters in particular: senior guard Blake Allen and junior forward Kamren Belin.
Allen’s overall shooting percentage has dropped from 44 percent last year to 36 this year and his 3-point percentage has gone from 43 last year to 37 this year. Belin, meanwhile, hasn’t scored more than six points in six of the last eight games and was basically invisible in Thursday’s loss to Detroit.
“You don’t have to tell those guys they haven’t played well,” Slocum said. “Do those guys have to play better for us to be good? There’s no doubt about that.
Although the Penguins have played better on the road than at home, Slocum would still rather be at Beeghly. Starting next week, he’ll get plenty of chances as the Penguins play eight of 10 at home.
“It’s a marathon run, this basketball season,” Slocum said. “You look around sports, there’s an ebb and flow to it. We’ve been a very good February kind of team and I told our guys we’ve got to kick it in before that.”