Slocum: Titans still play
good pressure defense
By Joe Scalzo
Here is a list of all the good things that happened the last time Youngstown State’s men’s basketball team hosted Detroit:
Got all that?
In case you’ve forgotten last year’s game — the same way you might forget, say, a root canal — the Titans dealt the Penguins their worst conference loss in nearly seven years. The final score was 101-60 and, somehow, it felt worse.
“We’ve had some success in their gym,” YSU coach Jerry Slocum said of the Titans, “and very little in ours.”
YSU has lost five straight home games to Detroit but enter today’s game with a better chance of ending that streak than in recent years.
The Titans lost four of five starters from last year’s team, including Horizon League player of the year Ray McCallum, who left school one year early and was drafted in the second round by the Sacramento Kings.
They’re still good.
Just not as good.
“I really have a lot of respect for their defensive pressure,” Slocum said. “They have really gotten up and gotten into us over the last four or five times we’ve played them.
“I think they’re the best pressure team in the league.”
YSU, meanwhile, is still the best offensive team in the league at 79.8 points per game and is starting to play better on the defensive end, holding UIC (62) and Cleveland State (66) under 70 points.
Not surprisingly, YSU won both games. The Penguins (11-8, 2-2 Horizon League) are 11-0 when they hold their opponents under 82 points this season.
“Our emphasis lately in practice has been on the defense end,” sophomore Bobby Hain said. “Defense wins games, so we’ve got to keep it up.”
Hain’s defense, in particular, is key for the Penguins. At 6-foot-10 and 235 pounds, he’s the team’s best post presence, but is prone to getting in foul trouble. His absence hurts YSU’s offense (Hain is a gifted scorer and passer) and its defense since YSU is then forced to play senior Fletcher Larson (who is undersized at 6-8 and 215 pounds) or senior Josh Chojnacki (who is averaging a foul every 3 1/2 minutes).
“The thing I like about Bobby is how consistent he’s been the last couple weeks,” Slocum said. “We need to get him more involved. He’s got to touch the ball more. We probably need to get him 10-13 shots a night for us.”
The Penguins will also need more from senior Kamren Belin, who played solid defense against CSU but was held scoreless. As good as Kendrick Perry is, YSU can’t expect him to put up 30 or more points every night, especially as defenses do more and more to stop him.
“Obviously they’re gonna come at KP and they’re gonna come at Kam,” Slocum said. “I’m not sure Kam has done as well in league play. I think he’s got to play a little better.”
Tonight would be a great place to start, particularly since the Titans (8-11, 1-3) have lost three straight Horizon League games.
“They’re a very physical, hard-nosed team,” Hain said of Detroit. “We’ve got to come with the same toughness we did against Cleveland State. Just bring it up and hopefully we’ll get a W.”