By Joe Scalzo
At halftime of Wednesday’s game, as everyone’s eyes focused on the winningest women’s basketball coach in Youngstown State history, Ed DiGregorio kept looking at the former players around him.
“The one thing I enjoyed seeing the most were all the young ladies that came back,” DiGregorio said.
A decade after his retirement, YSU retired No. 319 in honor of DiGregorio’s win total in 20 seasons with the Penguins. He received a framed jersey with “Coach D” above 319 as he posed for photos with his wife, Edie.
“Fantastic,” he said. “I was really surprised. It overwhelms me, it does.
“Youngstown is a great place, Youngstown State is a great place and I enjoyed every minute of my 20 years.”
DiGregorio, who went 319-241 and advanced to three NCAA tournaments, said he’s missed one home game since retiring after the 2003 season. The Penguins (22-8) are enjoying their best season since his last NCAA tournament team, 1999-2000.
“The last 10 years have been death for me,” Ed DiGregorio said. “It’s good to see them winning again.
“When I came here, I was always used to winning. Our first year we went 7-17 and said, ‘This has got to end.’ ”
He went out and recruited Dorothy Bowers and finished 14-13 the next season, the first of 12 winning seasons. Bowers went on to score a school-record 2,324 points.
“I used to take the young ladies and say, ‘This is Dorothy Bowers. I want you to meet her and get the ball to her and that’s all you have to do,’” DiGregorio said. “I think [current coach] Bob Boldon is doing the same thing [with Brandi Brown]. Brandi could play with the best team, the 28-win team [in 1997-98]. She’s a phenomenal player. She’s carried this team.”
Boldon said DiGregorio hasn’t given him much advice, nor does he need to.
“He set a standard for women’s basketball at Youngstown State University,” Boldon said. “I think our goal is to try to reach that standard.
“There’s no saying, ‘Oh, it’s never been done here before’ because it has been. He put Youngstown State women’s basketball on the map and it’s our job to get us as close to that level as we can and hopefully succeed it.