YSU men return home after three-game skid


Calhoun shows his support for players

By Dan Hiner

dhiner@vindy.com

youngstown

Youngstown State men’s basketball coach Jerrod Calhoun received a technical foul with 1:52 to play in the Penguins’ 77-67 loss to Wright State on Monday night.

But Calhoun wanted to send a message to his team. He wanted to show the players he hasn’t given up on the season.

After starting Horizon League play 3-0, the Penguins dropped three straight on the road to Oakland, Detroit Mercy and Wright State.

“We got back late last night. We’ve battled the roads, we battled weather, we’ve battled injuries, we’ve battled a schedule and that’s why I got the technical yesterday,” Calhoun said. “I wanted our kids to know that I’m going down fighting with these seniors. That was kind of a state that ‘I’m behind ya 100 percent. I’m going down swinging in this Horizon League.’”

The Penguins have two games at home this week, starting with the University of Illinois-Chicago (8-11, 3-3) on Thursday.

YSU (5-14, 3-3 in the Horizon League) lost both games to the Flames last year by a combined total of 13 points, including a 10-point overtime loss to UIC in the Beeghly Center.

The Penguins will need to contain UIC’s Dikembe Dixon who enters the game averaging 14.6 points on 39.1 percent shooting.

YSU is all to familiar with Dixon who scored 40 points and 32 points in the two meeting between the teams in 2015-16.

Dixon suffered a season-ending knee injury prior to conference play last season.

“Dikembe Dixon, he’s a pretty good player,” YSU guard Cam Morse said. “6-7, long, athletic, he can shoot the ball, drive to the basket. We’re gonna have our game plan on him too. I feel like with me doing what I do and him doing whatever he does for the team, It’s gonna be a great game Thursday.”

Although the Penguins lost their last three, YSU forward Naz Bohannon had two of the best games of his young career.

Bohannon had 11 points and 15 rebounds in the loss to Wright State. The freshman averaged 12 points and 13.5 rebounds on 47.6 percent shooting in losses to the Raiders and Detroit Mercy.

“He’s a young man that just gives you everything he has,” Calhoun said. “To get 15 rebounds as a freshman in any game, at any level, that’s a heck of a performance. He’s done it back-to-back games where he’s gotten double-doubles. I think he’s one of the top five freshmen in this league.”

Calhoun went on to say that if Bohannon can become “a force” if he continues to develop his passing, ball handling and his shooting.

Two days after the UIC game, the Penguins will host IUPUI has a 6-11 record and is tied with YSU and UIC for fourth place in the Horizon League standings.

It’s the first meeting between the two schools since the 2000-01 season when YSU beat the Jaguars 82-78 in the Beeghly Center. The Penguins own a 5-1 record against the Jaguars in a short lived series that dates back to 1975-76.

“Our bench is gonna have to play big minutes,” Morse said. “Everybody from the starting five to the people on the bench, we all gonna have to play big minutes, pay attention to the scouting report and just lock in on the details. I feel like IUPUI, they’re a new team but if we just lock in on details and focus on them and execute what we do, we should be fine.”

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