By Dan Hiner
The Youngstown State University Men’s Basketball team found it difficult to get any offense going during the first game of the regular season against Kent State University.
The Penguins were able to keep the game close throughout the first half. YSU was aggressive on offense and outscored the Golden Flashes in the paint 20-10. YSU outrebounded Kent State 19-15 and grabbed nine offensive rebounds, which resulted in eight second chance points.
YSU struggled to get anything going on offense to begin the second half. The Penguins didn’t make their first basket in the second half until nearly three minutes into the half, and the hustle and energy that helped keep YSU in the game during the first half seemed to disappear at halftime.
“We talked about at the beginning of the half they were going to come out and notch up the pressure a little bit. In our first three out of four possessions were turnovers, then a quick foul by Bobby,” head coach Jerry Slocum said. “Then they went up and we cut it and we had five possessions. We missed a layup; we missed a wide open jump shot and two turnovers.”
The Penguins struggled to find consistency on offense due to foul trouble for junior center Bobby Hain. Hain was named Preseason All-Horizon League Second-Team before the season began, but having one of the best players in the conference means nothing unless he could stay on the court. Hain finally fouled out of the game with 6:25 left in the game.
Slocum said Hain was starting to cause “unforced fouls.” Slocum explained that fouls that occur when a player is going for a rebound or playing defense in the post are common fouls that players will accumulate throughout a game, but Hain was starting to cause unnecessary fouls.
“To have a foul on a ball screen and then to see that we were trying to get him out with minute and twenty-three seconds left in the first half and he commits a foul, for being your best player he has to be smarter than that,” Slocum said.
After Hain sat the bench after receiving his fourth foul of the game, senior forward Shawn Amiker emerged to fill the whole on offense. Amiker recorded his first career double-double, finishing with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
“Shawn has been our best player through all our scrimmages and all the fall. He is one of the guys who has been very, very consistent, and he is a tough matchup because of how quick he is,” Slocum said.
The offense struggled shooting the ball throughout the night. The Penguins only made 37% of their shots; by contrast Kent State made 52% of their shots. Their shots behind the 3-point line weren’t any better. YSU finished 2-18 from behind the 3-point arch.
“You’re not going to be a good basketball team with a new group of guys like this without shooting the ball better,” Slocum said. “We’ve got a tough week ahead of us. Obviously we play again tomorrow, but then we turn around and play four in five days or four in six days. We’ve got to shoot the ball better.”