By Greg Gulas
Don’t expect any wholesale changes within the Youngstown State University women’s basketball program this season.
First-year head coach John Barnes knows firsthand the hard work that his predecessor, Bob Boldon, put into the overall structure of the team, which took the Penguins from a winless squad prior to his arrival (0-30 in 2009-10) to a 23-win team a season ago.
While addressing the Curbstone Coaches at Luciano’s Restaurant during their weekly Monday luncheon meeting, Barnes noted there would be one noticeable difference and that would be the type of offense his initial team would run.
“Coach [Bob] Boldon ran a ‘five-out’ system in which there were plenty of 3s taken and in fact, encouraged,” he said. “I’ll run a ‘four-out, one in motion’ or ‘three-out, two in motion’ type offense,” Barnes said. “We’ll run plenty of sets.”
The Penguins open their season on Nov. 9 at home against Virginia Commonwealth of the Atlantic 10 Conference. The home schedule also include games against other highly visible programs such as West Virginia (Big 12) and Cincinnati (American Athletic Conference).
“It’s great to play 17 home games, but in addition to some very high profile programs our Horizon League schedule will be equally as tough,” Barnes said.
Barnes said while the program made great strides under Bolden, he lauded former coach Ed DiGregorio for winning the recruiting battle by keeping local talent at home.
“Coach [Ed] DiGregorio’s philosophy was to find the best local talent and convince them to play in front of the home crowd,” Barnes said.
“When his teams were winning multiple Mid-Continent Conference titles and earning NCAA berths, his recruits usually hailed from within 100 miles of campus. He’s been a great mentor to me and we’re going to try to emulate that philosophy, concentrating on players from the Midwest and within our region.”
Barnes said he is not a fan of the quick fix, stating that transfers and junior college players make it difficult to lay a program’s foundation
“My philosophy is to bring players in as freshmen and then work with them for the next four years. That is how you build a rock-solid foundation,” he said.
Barnes’ goals remain simple.
“We want to get better and make strides each and every day, both as a team and staff and that means being mentally and physically tough,” he said.
“We also want to leave our mark in the community and that means we’ll perform our share of community service. I want our program to be remembered as having great character both on and off the court. Finally, we want to win a conference title and make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.”
In other business, 2014 hall of fame applications are available by writing the organization at P.O. Box 3722, Youngstown, OH, 44513
Next week, area track voice Andris Balputnis will serve as guest speaker.