By Joe Scalzo
Last Friday, after the Youngstown State women’s basketball team suffered its worst loss of the season in the Horizon League tournament semifinals, Penguins coach Bob Boldon said this:
“If we’re not going to play hard, then we’re not going to play in the NIT or any other tournament.”
On Tuesday, the day after YSU accepted a WNIT bid, Boldon was asked if he was serious.
“I was 100 percent serious,” he said.
So what changed?
“The players,” said Boldon, whose team will host Indiana State on Thursday night. “We had a sitdown when we got back from Green Bay. It was probably the longest team meet that we’ve ever had [in his three years]. We worked some things out and we agreed if we were going to play basketball, we were going to play it the way it was supposed to be played, with a lot of effort and a lot of energy.
“I trust them as players. I trust them as people. If that was their decision, I was more than willing to coach them. I’ve had a lot of fun coaching this team.”
The Penguins (22-9) will play their first postseason tournament game since losing in the first round of the NCAA tournament in 2000. The Sycamores (18-12) are coming off a 71-60 loss to Northern Iowa in the Missouri Valley tournament quarterfinals.
Junior Liz Hornberger felt the same way Boldon did after the 72-45 loss to Loyola — “If you don’t want to play, why bother showing up?” she said — but is glad the Penguins have a chance to end the season the right way.
“I did not want to end like that,” Hornberger said. “Not for me personally, but more for [senior] Brandi [Brown] because she’s done so much for this team and so much for this program and to not come out and show heart, and that’s the way her career is gonna end, is not fair for her.
“I’m relieved that we got another chance and I hope we don’t take this one for granted like we did on Friday.”
Boldon said junior Karen Flagg (who has a broken bone in her hand and has been playing with a cast) and sophomore Heidi Schlegel (who has not played since injuring her knee on Feb. 21) are “getting better.”
“Every day that Karen practices she gets a little bit more back,” Boldon said. “Heidi ran mostly pain-free the last time we practiced [on Monday], so I’m encouraged to see how she looks [Tuesday] on the floor and actually hopeful for the first time we might have her in a uniform and be able to get a few minutes out of her on Thursday.”