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Released YSU players wanted to return

Published: Sun, April 13, 2014 @ 12:08 a.m.

By Joe Scalzo



Shar’Rae Davis, Amanda Barger and Taylor Hvisdak will not be playing for Youngstown State’s women’s basketball team next season, but they want to make one thing clear: It wasn’t their choice.

Head coach John Barnes released the three players from their scholarships following the season, his first with the Penguins. Barnes replaced Bob Boldon last spring after Boldon was hired by Ohio University following a three-year stint at YSU.

All three players were Boldon recruits.

YSU does not offer multi-year scholarships and the NCAA does not require schools to renew one-year scholarships, although players have the option of appealing the decision when coaches do not renew.

Davis, who made the Horizon League’s all-newcomer team as a freshman point guard in 2012-13, missed this season while batting ulcerative colitis, which forced her to withdraw from school. But the Grand Haven, Mich., native said she planned to return to YSU for the 2014-15 season.

“I was actually setting up all my classes and getting back into the Courtyard Apartments,” she said. “When I would sit in the stands [at YSU games], so many fans asked me if I was coming back and I said, ‘Yeah, of course.’ I really love the fans. They supported me so much and I didn’t want them to think I was going back against my word.”

Davis said the reason Barnes gave for releasing her was because she committed an NCAA violation before a Feb. 8 road game against Oakland. Davis drove three hours from her Grand Haven home to visit the team, staying in a team hotel room overnight. Because she was not a member of the team, she was required to pay for the hotel room (“I did that,” she said) and is facing a three-game suspension at the beginning of next season.

“I went to the hotel to be around the team and ended up falling asleep in one of the hotel rooms because it was so late,” she said.

“Honestly, Coach Barnes is kind of forming a mold he wants out of his players and maybe I didn’t fit the mold. I didn’t have any problems with the coaches my freshman year. I enjoyed them and I enjoyed playing with my teammates.”

Davis lost 35 pounds because of the colitis but is back to her normal weight and is on medication. She plans to visit a couple Division I schools and, because she missed this season, she is hoping to avoid sitting out next season for NCAA transfer rules.

“I’m excited to continue my career,” said Davis, who averaged 9.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.5 steals in 2012-13. “I’m not angry at Coach Barnes, I wish him the best of luck, but I just want people to know the truth. I know they’re kind of hiding it, saying we transferred or left, but I don’t want people to think I didn’t like Youngstown. People thought I was going to transfer when Boldon left, but I’m really loyal to Youngstown. I was going to stay.”

Barger, a Gurnee, Ill., native, averaged 2.3 points in 14.8 minutes per game as a freshman guard in 2012-13, but played just 21 minutes total this season, appearing in eight games. Barger herniated two disks in her back while squatting during summer workouts but said she was healthy for 18 games this season.

“When Coach Barnes came, I wasn’t his player,” she said. “He made it very apparent that I wasn’t what he wanted, what he was looking for, what he would have recruited.”

Barger said she angered Barnes twice this season for swearing in front of potential recruits. (She said she wasn’t aware there were recruits visiting.) Barnes suspended her after the second incident. When neither recruit chose YSU, Barger said Barnes blamed her, using those incidents as the rationale for not renewing her scholarship.

Barger’s parents want her to appeal the decision, but she is leaning toward going to another school.

“I don’t know why I would appeal to play for someone who extremely dislikes me,” she said. “I had a great freshman year. It’s nothing against YSU. I love the campus and I love the people here. It’s just weird that I only played a minute in games this year when I averaged 15 minutes as a freshman. It’s not like my skills decreased. He just wasn’t willing to play me.”

Hvisdak, a Lowellville High graduate, walked on to the team in 2012-13 and was given a scholarship for this season based on a recommendation by Boldon and several teammates. While Barnes only promised a one-year scholarship, she hoped to prove she deserved to stay on scholarship after this season.

“Personally, I thought I did,” said Hvisdak, who scored a total of 22 points in 101 minutes over 17 games. “I went to practice, I worked hard and did what I had to do. It just didn’t end up working out.”

Hvisdak said her problem isn’t as much with Barnes’ decision not to renew the scholarship as the way he treated her in their post-season meeting.

“I was kind of expecting it,” said Hvisdak. “I would have been OK if he had said, ‘Thank you for all your hard work, but we don’t have enough scholarships, but if you want to stay on [as a walk-on], we would love to have you. Instead he said, ‘Did you actually think I would give you another scholarship?’”

Hvisdak said Barnes did offer her a walk-on spot during the meeting, but made it clear she was unlikely to play next season.

“He diminished me all year,” she said. “That’s one thing Coach Boldon never did. Every time I talked to Barnes, he made it clear he considered me a walk-on and that I should just show up to the games, enjoy traveling and enjoy the experience. And I did enjoy the experience my first year. I had a lot of fun. This year was a little harder on me.”

Barnes declined an interview request for this story. Through a YSU spokesman, he released this statement:

“Any time there are coaching changes, it’s common that some changes in personnel follow for various reasons, regardless of the school and sport. I’m proud of what we accomplished this past season, and I appreciate the effort that all of our student-athletes gave, whether they’ll be returning or not next season, in achieving a top-three finish in the Horizon League and a berth in the semifinals of the league tournament. We wish nothing but success for everyone who has been a part of the YSU women’s basketball program.”


1badeepster(124 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Sour grapes all. While Davis is a good player, she didn't follow rules and needed to go. Barger is a D2 player at best and Hvisdak is a D3 player at best. Both don't belong on a D1 roster. Hvisdak knew it was a 1 year deal for a scolly yet complains. Recruits coming in will render these 3 pointless. Barnes is an excellent coach and a good person despite how this story paints him. We'll be lucky to hold on to him.

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2nolen93(1 comment)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Are you SERIOUS???
That's what you got from this article? Really???
So treating a person with no respect is alright? And basically telling them I don't like you to their face is ok? You are about as clueless as Barnes. Oh wait you probably are Barnes since he wasn't man enough to defend himself

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3YoungstownPenguins1(1 comment)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

This article confirms that Coach Barnes made the right decision.... These 3 players believe in entitlement and continue to see and/or admit the reality behind John Barnes decision. There is so much truth that these players failed to mention in this article. Do they realize that future schools will call former coaches in order to get the truth? I wonder if Coach Bolden has been searching for a scholarship for these players that he recruited so that they can go have fun with him at Ohio University? Doubt it! Winning is fun and that seems to be the mentality and direction that Coach Barnes is about....with winning comes discipline, work ethic, character, morals,values,etc.... Not underage drinking, improper diets, sense of entitlement, lack of manners and respect for adults. The YSU women's basketball team will continue to succeed in-spite of... Best of luck to those players in hopes that they find a program that fits and Best of luck to Coach Barnes and the future of YSU women's basketball.

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4Spiderlegs(161 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

We're hearing only one side of these stories and I really don't expect Barnes to air dirty laundry in public.

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5knowitall11(2 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Some of these comments are completely inappropriate and one sided!! I was a division one athlete and never dealt with such ignorance or misinformed people in my life!! Obviously there are YSU people on here trying to defend their coach and their program...which is expected. However, they are completely off base for blaming a kids diet on her illness... So totally ridiculous!! How ruthless can someone be! Does anyone realize this is not about these kids losing their scholarships? It's how!!!! To tell a kid that you don't like them and to basically mock another for taking it is absurd!! You have no class or communication skills. How can people really think that this coach has any respect. Don't sit there and judge these girls about their lack of respect....what about the lack in their leader?? The coach will fail to tell you that he would look to his bench and say "oh s... I guess you have to go in!!" Really? That's respect right? Or how he would tell these girls not to play such intense defense on his starters because Detroit doesn't play that hard!! Well we see how that turned out for ya coach!! Who the hell says those things! That's respect right? I played and was never provided with the exact rules of the NCAA... So how would Davis ever know what was possibly broken? It is the fault of the university for not telling her right away.... Pure ignorance on their part. To say that the other two girls are not division one players is such a cowardly and disrespectful thing to say. They made those starters better everyday!!! And do you really believe that the girls that remain on roster are true division 1 players? So sad!! They are only there cause they were given a chance. No one else was! I find it quite weird that when you make a mistake you were immediately pulled from the game!!! Don't you!! Who can play under that kind of pressure! Coach Barnes wants everyone to think these girls left because of things they didn't do or did wrong... Truth hurts huh buddy?!!

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6Ytownfan07(5 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Bottom line I can respond to many of you "Barnes fans" with hard cold facts that would blow any true basketball fans' minds away.... But I won't because his actions speak beyond any of my words. The fact that he chose not to respond to this article and to decline an interview.... Proves his guilt... He is a coward and chose to hide behind a generic excuse as to why he chose to dismiss these girls... If the accusations by some of you commenting on here are true why hasn't the university come forth. Respect is the key and I would hope people in this area would want to surround our university with people that value respect, professionalism and most of all humanity. Unfortunately for YSU, Barnes does obtain one of these crucial values to have a winning program.

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7Ytownfan07(5 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Barnes does NOT have those qualities.... Correcting my last post. After all I don't want to give him any more credit than he deserves.

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8jao(2 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Wow is all I can say. It seems these players first wanted the community to know they were not leaving YSU. They wanted the fans and the school to know they were loyal Penguins who were pushed out. After reading some of the above comments it is obvious that they come from YSU coaching staff or John Barns himself. The anger and sarcasm in those responses shows the mentality of this new world order for YSU women's basketball. As far as D1, D2 or D3 lets be realistic. There are other players on the team that would be considered D5 if there were such a thing. So saying these players scholarships were taken because they were not D1 players is simply untrue. Underage drinking? Hmmm the entire team (except for maybe 1 or two). Breaking rules - lets see....it is a fact some players on other teams at YSU broke laws not rules and their scholarships are still in tact. The entitlement statement - ridiculous. These players went to practice everyday and worked hard, They persevered day in and day out through injury and illness and disdain by the coaches,. Yes, having your scholarship yanked and wondering how to pay for school is a hard pill to swallow. It seems this coaching staff has lost sight of the fact that coaching and inspiring young people is a privilege. It seems YSU has lost sight of the fact that these are students first, athletes second. Its about educating and inspiring young people. When you can do that everything else falls into place. Sorry to say it is going to take a long while for YSU to regain the inspiration it lost when Bob Bolden left.

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9jao(2 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

BTW this comment is for the coaching staff member going by the name of badeepster: just the fact that you have the audacity to so boldly and publicly proclaim that getting new recruits renders Taylor, Shar'Rae and Amanda pointless shows the true character of this coaching staff. No one is pointless, everyone has value!

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10m7resident(1 comment)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Another gossip column from Scalzo. Surprise Surprise. It is understandable for the Lowellville faithful tearing Barnes apart I can see your frustration. If you remove community ties from the equation though, D1 scholarships are not given out for hard work. Barnes' character and discipline should be a model for the folks in the office down the hall in Beeghly to follow. Also jao, YSU to regain the inspiration it lost? Im sorry were you at any games this year. Overcoming adversity and taking a team with only 3-4 legitimate D1 players to a 3rd place finish in the conference after a dreadful start to the year, is fairly inspiring if you ask me.

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11Ytownfan07(5 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

m7 how many games did you see? Not many if you think that this has anything to do with Lowellville or community. When I mentioned community, I meant the communities around this university and what we should want for this establishment and its reputation. YSU should be viewed as "ours". I JUST want it to be an univesiaty that we can be proud of . I am sorry I did see a few games and I can tell you that league was the weakest in years and watching Barnes treat each player- starter, non starter, and bench, like he did, was an emabrassment for all! I watched a D1 coach stomp his feet as a two year old would when wanting his or her mom to give into his or her childish temper tantrums. Girls were given one chance...one mistake was made and the girl began to walk off the floor knowing the substituion was waiting. He talked and disrespected a majority of the girls and this was obvious through all games...win or lose... a good play or a bad play. He brings such a negative attitude to this team and at times it was difficult to watch. Barnes is not the right coach for this team and I am ashamed that you think he is.....this upcoming season watch him closely and you too will see the guy's flaws.

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12badeepster(124 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

A member of the coaching staff?? Hardly. Someone who has watched a great deal of basketball for several years and is smart enough to see entitlement gone haywire? Bingo! First of all, Hvisdak was NOT recruited by YSU and secondly, she SIGNED OFF on this being a one year deal. She scored 22 points in 17 games and thinks her scholly will be renewed?? Seriously?? Look, she's a hard-working kid who by all accounts is a nice young lady. She's also a Division 3 player at best. Time for family and friends to put their big boy/girl pants on and realize this and move on.

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13Ytownfan07(5 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

How the heck do you know that hvisdak signed off knowing it was only a one year thing? Hvisdaks one year scholarship was never announced nor the details of the agreement ever went to the hands of the media. So I wonder how you would know thoses details without being coach or possibly another player on the team. As far as the other posts..... I have read more posts supporting all three girls, so why do you find it necessary to bash only hvisdak? IT SOUNDS A LITTLE WEIRD WHY YOU ARE SO CONSUMED WITH HVISDAK????? As far as Hvisdaks performance...she could have played D 1 under the circumstances of a weak league...afterall we watched starters play 40 minutes and score 0 points and double digit turnovers and hvisdak played 100 minutes and scored over 20 points...do the math or are you just as bad at math as you are a reader? ..I am certain after being able and capable of reading an article and comprehending it ...she is not complaining about entitlement or losing her scholarship but rather "how" it was done.... try reading the article again and maybe you just might get the point....its not about entitlement but respect.

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14Ytownfan07(5 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

I just reread article and boy you cant read....please read it again and write a post that matches the claims of all three girls especially Hvisdak....she knew she wasnt getting renewed and clearly states it was not about Barnes decision rather the way he approached her and let her go....its professionalism and respect buddy ...while rereading the article be certain to grab a dictionary and look up the words professionalism and respect. I cant continue to read your ignorance to the big picture so please be smart with your next post.. one more point...hvisdak proved that she was D1 at the beginning of season...I listened to the media comment on her play during game broadcast, but barnes could not erase her walk on status from his narrow mind. He was afraid what she might have done with extra time so he pulled back. Hvisdak never had the opportunity to show what she could have done...she just might have amazed a few people. If not a coach...how are you capable of judging her ability? After all she played 1 minute at a time...review her stats and get back to me!

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15DSquared(1788 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

The whole YSU Athletic Dept, from the A.D. on down the line, should be broomed!! What the he!! has caused the wheels to fall off? I believe this fish is rotten from the head down!

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16spravado(1 comment)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Being in the basketball arena I happened on this article because I know one of the players being released very well, mostly through AAU Ball. Although uncommon in women's basketball coaches do have the right to reduce or release from players scholarships. It is risky business to release players. Potential recruits can see that as a sign of a coach that easily disposes of players. YSU has a difficult time recruiting to begin with. There is a push for the NCAA to allow reduction or release of scholarships from only the coach that recruited the player and I hope that happens. I have been speaking to everyone I know in the AAU arena about the release of these players by YSU. The response has not been very flattering. As a coach for players wanting to move on to college I personally would not recommend a place where players are easily disposed of.

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