Ed Puskas: It’s time YSU went dancing


Random thoughts while wondering what a March Madness run by Youngstown State would be like for the Valley:

WHY NOT HERE?

Loyola-Chicago’s magic finally ran out against Michigan on Saturday night in an NCAA national semifinal on Saturday night.

The Ramblers became the darling of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament over the last two weeks because almost everyone loves an underdog.

For those watching from our particular dot on the map, the questions are obvious:

Why not here?

Why not Youngstown State?

Well, in order to own March Madness for a couple of weeks, a Cinderella team first has to get there.

The Penguins never have.

Not the men, anyway. The YSU women have qualified for the NCAA tournament three times, each time after winning the old Mid-Continent Conference.

Both teams now compete in the Horizon League, which has made for tough sledding for YSU’s men and women.

But looking at what Loyola-Chicago did these last two weeks and all the priceless exposure that came with it, that first NCAA Tournament berth has to be the goal for the YSU men.

If Jerrod Calhoun and the Penguins can one day pull that off, the benefits to the program and the university would be immeasurable even before actually winning a first-round game.

Just get in, YSU. It’s long overdue.

DON’T MESS WITH THE GAME

I can’t wait for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers’ first extra-inning game in 2018. We’ll get a first-hand look at baseball’s version of New Coke. Or is it the Edsel?

Call it what you want, but putting a runner at second base to start each extra inning is the dumbest idea anyone in baseball has come up with since the guy who created Slider, the Indians’ insipid, amorphous mascot.

Baseball’s charm is that it doesn’t need gimmickry. It doesn’t have to mimic other sports.

It is timeless and that was by grand design. Real baseball fans enjoy both a fast-movng pitchers’ duel or a slugfest that drags lazily on past the three-hour mark.

Just give us 27 outs. Or more if that’s what it takes.

What part of “I don’t care if I never get back” do the people who now run baseball not get?

CHECK YOUR SCHEDULES

Six Mahoning Valley high school basketball teams qualified for regional tournaments this season.

The combined regional record of the four girls teams and two boys teams which won district titles was 0-6.

It’s easy to say our teams need to schedule up and play better teams. They should. A team that is 20-2 or 21-1 or 22-0 but has built that regular-season record against iffy competition shouldn’t plan on a long tournament run.

A team that sacrifices a few meaningless regular-season wins for the experience of facing tougher foes often reaps postseason benefits.

But assuming most teams want to play up, what’s the incentive for better teams from bigger schools to schedule down?

MONDAY LUNCH DATE

The Curbstone Coaches have graciously invited me to speak at their weekly luncheon Monday at Avion Banquet Center.

Stop by at noon for lunch and also get your fill of sports talk.

Write Sports Editor Ed Puskas at epuskas@vindy.com and follow him on Twitter, @EdPuskas_Vindy.

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