Toughest part of schedule looms for YSU women

By Brian Dzenis


Wisconsin is known for cheese, the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile and the best women’s basketball in the Horizon League.

It’s where the YSU women’s basketball team will play the first two games — Green Bay on Thursday and Milwaukee on Saturday — of a four-game road trip. Between that trip and their 65-43 loss to IUPUI on Saturday, the Penguins might be in the toughest part of their schedule.

“Being on the road against these teams and IUPUI is making a case for the best team in our league, they’re the only undefeated team [in league play],” coach John Barnes said. “That was a good game for us.

“We had a lot of wide-open threes and layups not go in and they have a player step up and have a career high game.

“That helped us know where we are and know that we can do some things to compete with the top teams in our league.”

YSU (6-9, 2-2) faces a Green Bay team (12-2, 2-1) that this week took the No. 25 spot in the Associated Press’ Top 25 poll and has won the past two Horizon League championships. The Phoenix are the preseason favorites to three-peat and Milwaukee (10-5, 0-2) is projected to be the No. 4 team.

“[The players] know Green Bay is very good and they’ve won a lot of championships, but they’re beatable like anyone else,” Barnes said. “Northern Kentucky [was 3-10] going into their game [against Green Bay] and found a way to win so we’re just give everything we have to try and get a win too.”

Barnes was an associate head coach with the Phoenix before coming to YSU in 2013. He’s had a previous coaching stop at Wisconsin and heavily recruited the state when he was the head coach at his alma mater Michigan Tech.

Those ties bleed into his roster. Freshman guard Chelsea Olson is from Westby, Wis., and one of the team’s signees, Taylor Petit, is from Schofield, Wis. Olson, who’s projected to start Thursday’s contest, will have family going to the Kress Center. Olson said she wasn’t recruited by neither Green Bay nor Milwaukee.

“It means a lot to me. Most of my family has only seen me play in high school,” Olson said.

Olson and fellow freshman McKenah Peters are the team’s two best three-point shooters, shooting 38 and 39 percent from beyond the arc. The two of them have platooned to replace Alison Smolinski, who is sidelined with what Barnes described as “some kind of fracture” in her left foot. Barnes said he expects her to return at some point during the season, but isn’t sure when.

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