By Joe Catullo
Sitting together in the first row at Beeghly Center, the Youngstown State men’s basketball team supported its family.
They watched their basketball sisters sharpen the knives and carve Indiana State for dinner. The next family meal will be at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday, when the men challenge Canisius during second-round action in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
“It’s like our March Madness here,” YSU’s Kamren Belin said. “We’re getting in the home games, everybody’s showing up, we support the women and the women support us. It’s just a big basketball family.”
When men’s coach Jerry Slocum walked into the conference at halftime, he was worried about the media’s dinner, rummaging through two empty Belleria pizza boxes.
“They don’t feed you guys for the playoffs? That’s bull, man,” he said laughing. “They usually have wings and everything for you guys. I’ll have to talk to somebody.”
When Slocum finally sat down, he said he heard about the news at noon on Thursday but was hoping to hear it sooner. He was on campus since 6 a.m., awaiting news of the Penguins’ second-round foe.
“We’ll be prepared. It’s just a really long couple of days,” Slocum said. “We had a really good practice [on Thursday]. The guys did a pretty good job of some basic stuff they do. It’ll be an important day tomorrow.”
The Penguins (18-15) defeated Oakland, 99-87, in the first round on Tuesday at home. The Penguins set a program record with 18 3-point field goals.
“There’s no doubt that the ball moved and found open guys,” Slocum said. “We were able to play at a tempo in our last game that we really haven’t able to play for in about four weeks, and we’re going to need all of that against Canisius.”
Slocum added that the Golden Griffins (19-13) are a very good 3-point shooting team. Canisius defeated Elon, 69-53, on Wednesday in its first-round action in the CIT.
“I like the way they play,” Belin said. “It should be an exciting game up and down the floor for everybody to watch and for us to play in.”
Saturday’s matchup will be the fourth time YSU and Canisius will play. Canisius won the first three games, including a 71-59 victory at Beeghly Center on Nov. 26, 2006.
With the women’s victory Thursday night, YSU will continue its family gatherings for a little while longer.
“It’s been a great winter for basketball for Youngstown,” Slocum said. “We’re proud of our women in what they’re doing and obviously proud of my guys in what they’ve done.”
Ticket prices for the men will remain the same as the first round: $10 for reserved, $7 for general admission, YSU students are free with a current and valid ID. The ticket office will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday in Stambaugh Stadium. Gates open at 6 p.m. at Beeghly Center.