YSU’s Calhoun pleased so far
Men’s basketball team getting ready for Nov. 11 opener
By Greg Gulas
Noting preseason practices have gone exactly to plan, Youngstown State University head basketball coach Jerrod Calhoun says there’s plenty that still needs to be accomplished before the Nov. 11 opener against Kent State.
Monday, Calhoun told the Curbstone Coaches at Avion Banquet Center that willingness by the players to adapt to a culture change and new style of play has gone much better than expected.
“Our player leadership team of Francisco Santiaqo, Braun Harffield and Cameron Morse has been absolutely outstanding,” Calhoun said. “We meet weekly, talk about our message for the week then the leadership team makes sure everyone is on board with what we are doing.
“We’ve changed the culture in a million ways, but the one thing we tried to establish early on is our core values.”
This year’s theme is “Win Forever” with key components consisting of appreciation, grit, purpose, accountability and growth.
The word for the year is belief.
“We have 20 players on our roster and everyone continues to adapt to our style,” said Calhoun who has replaced Jerry Slocum. “It’s a challenge having that many players on the roster, but a good challenge.
“Practice is fast-paced, more up-tempo and the drills are run a little differently than the way I have run them in the past,” Calhoun said. “I don’t mind because I really like and enjoy having so many great guys around.”
Calhoun noted that the landscape with mid-majors is changing when it comes to scheduling. The Penguins will play 12 home games, 15 away contests and another four at neutral sites.
“The challenge with other mid-majors right now, including some teams in the Horizon League is the fact that when it comes scheduling, they are buying games,” Calhoun said. “We’re still being bought and that translates to no December games at home.”
Calhoun was emphatic about adding a home game with a Power-5 conference as early as next season. If it happens, it would be the second time that Beeghly Center played host to such an opponent. The last time was on Jan. 5, 1991, when the Big Ten’s Minnesota defeated YSU, 95-77.
The creation of a “Sixth Man Club” has already raised more than $80,000 for the program.
“Fundraising has gone really well thus far and the money we were able to raise helped provide extra meals to players over the summer months,” Calhoun said. “Plus, fans attending games this year will get to see a variety of new artwork that we’ve been able to add and place throughout Beeghly Center.”
The last fundraiser prior to the start of the season, a wine tasting event tonight at The Lake Club in Poland, has 280 confirmed.
“There were 170 tickets sold last year, so we’re obviously pleased with the increased number that has shown an interest in attending this year,” Calhoun said.Calhoun said plans are moving forward to host a basketball alumni weekend this winter with former players, coaches and athletic administrators invited to take part in the festivities.
Further information regarding tonight’s wine tasting event and alumni weekend may be obtained by calling Kevin Bruinsma, men’s basketball director of player personnel, at 330-941-3004.