Barnes finding positives in YSU women’s efforts
against tough foes
By Brian Dzenis
John Barnes says he isn’t one for moral victories, but concedes that for the competition the Youngstown State women’s basketball team has faced, they’ve held up pretty well and that’s good to see.
YSU (2-3) goes into today’s contest with Robert Morris (2-3) having won two of its last three. All three defeats have been competitive contests with the highest margin of defeat 11 points. They came against the ACC’s Pitt, Kent State — picked second in the MAC — and Patriot League favorite Bucknell. That trend continues for the next set of games.
“I’m not into moral victories, but being right there with teams picked to win their league is encouraging,” Barnes said. “We just need to pull everything together against teams that are either picked to win their league or second.
“We have Saint Francis coming up — their picked to win their league — we have Robert Morris, which is picked second and American, who is picked second or third. All these games are on the road, so we have to play extremely well to win those. That’s the nature of the beast.”
Compared to their Horizon League peers, the Penguins are a solid side. They’ve made more 3-pointers than any of their peers with 43 and shooting at a 32 percent clip — good for third in the league. Allison Smolinski has done well that category, shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc with a team-high 11 3s. Beyond fellow starters Nikki Arbanas and Indiya Benjamin, YSU has received long-range scoring help from freshman Chelsea Olson and sophomores Morgan Brunner and Natalie Myers. In most statistical categories, YSU is in the top half.
“Honestly, I think we’re in a good place,” Arbanas said. “I think that we know the things that we can work on in order to get better and knowing that we have to play a full four quarters solidly. We need less turnovers and more stops on defense.”
While the Penguins boast the league’s second-best assist-to-turnover ratio, its a number that Barnes wants to go down as some of his younger players get more experience.
“The hardest thing for us is putting it all together on the same night. We’ve had too many turnovers in the first few games, and then against Bucknell, we had too many mental mistakes,” Barnes said. “Some of our younger players have had some critical mistakes, which is going to happen when you have them out there, but we’re just trying to play complete games. If we do that, we’ll win some more games.”
A win over Robert Morris (2-3) would do more than put the Penguins’ record back at .500. It would mark their second road win of the season. YSU had just one victory away from Beeghly Center last year.