YSU’s Slocum announces retirement after 42 seasons


By Charles Grove

cgrove@vindy.com

youngstown

After the best Horizon League Tournament run in Jerry Slocum’s tenure, the Youngstown State men’s basketball coach announced his retirement, stepping down as head coach of the Penguins.

YSU released a statement announcing the decision on Tuesday afternoon, a day after the Penguins ended the season at 13-21, falling to Northern Kentucky in the Horizon League Tournament semifinals after a last-second win over top-seeded Oakland on Saturday in the quarterfinals.

“After 42 years of head coaching, I have been blessed and honored to have coached so many great young men and the privilege of working alongside some great assistant coaches,” Slocum said in the statement. “At this time I’m announcing that I’m retiring from coaching and have loved every moment that I was called ‘Coach.’ ”

Former YSU basketball player and Academic All-Horizon League player in 2012-2013 Blake Allen said the news was a bit surprising.

“He probably could’ve retired a long time ago but he loves the game so much,” Allen said. “I saw how much time he put into it. With the amount of time he’s been coaching it was a difficult decision for him to make and leave that part of his life behind.”

Slocum compiled 723 wins over those 42 seasons, 142 of which came while at YSU. During those 12 years Slocum compiled an overall record of 142-232 (.379) and a 63-143 (.305) during conference games.

Slocum’s two best years at YSU came in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 when YSU went 16-15 and 18-16 overall. The 2012-2013 team achieved YSU’s first postseason win, when the Penguins knocked off Oakland in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament before falling to Canisius in the second round.

Allen said those two teams had a roster full of guys who were more than willing to put in the extra necessary work.

“We really had a culture developed those two years where you had guys there late at night, before practice and even before road trips shooting free throws, working on ball-handling or even just getting extra shots up,” Allen said. “We just worked really hard honestly.”

While typically a stern figure at news conferences, Allen said Slocum was a very different coach on the court as opposed to off it.

“During practices he’s very intense and a real perfectionist,” Allen said. “He wants things run a certain way. He demanded a lot out of his players and himself, which I respected him for that.

“Off the court, though, I’d consider him very laid back. He’s a family guy and a man of principles and values. During the time I’ve known him I haven’t known him to deviate from any of that.”

Slocum had a strong coaching career at smaller schools. From 1975-1987 he posted a 199-166 (.545) record at Nyack. At Geneva he went 203-80 (.717) from 1987-1996 and went to four NAIA Division I tournaments. And at Gannon he went 179-78 (.696) from 1996-2005, winning three conference titles and getting to six NCAA Division II tournaments.

There were moments at YSU, too. On Feb. 3 2011 the Penguins beat Butler 62-60 at Beeghly Center. The Bulldogs were national runners-up the year before and would go on to repeat that feat that year as well.

“I remember the play where [Kendrick Perry] hit the shot to go ahead and then we got a stop on defense,” Allen said. “It was such an intense atmosphere. We played them tough at their place earlier in the year, but nobody expected us to take them down.”

The next fall YSU went down to Georgia and defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 68-56. It was YSU’s first win over a power-conference opponent.

“We had a bunch of veteran guys and went to Georgia not afraid to go against them,” Allen said. “We were able to get stops and had the right mindset to execute in that game.”

Slocum won his 700th career game as a head coach with YSU on Nov. 23 against North Dakota in Fort Myers Fla. His 723 career wins are 35th in NCAA history, according to YSU’s athletic department.

“Coach Slocum has proudly served young people and the game of basketball in a brilliant fashion,” YSU President Jim Tressel said in a released statement. “His 723 career wins are legendary; however, his work ethic and class differentiate his amazing career. We’re so proud that Jerry served our Penguins.”

YSU athletic director Ron Strollo added in the same statement, “We are extremely grateful that Jerry Slocum served as our men’s basketball head coach for 12 seasons. His passion for the game of basketball and his desire to work with our student-athletes on and off the court is unmatched.”

YSU did not make Slocum available for comment outside of his statement. Strollo and Tressel did not return texts seeking additional comment.

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