The ‘Keene’ to success: Penguins return home for two non-conference opponents

Senior Kamren Belin attempts a jump shot over Warren Wilson College on Thursday at Beeghly Center. The Penguins return home for a game against Thiel College on Wednesday. Photo by Ron Stevens/YSU Sports Information.

Senior Kamren Belin attempts a jump shot over Warren Wilson College on Thursday at Beeghly Center. The Penguins return home for a game against Thiel College on Wednesday. Photo by Ron Stevens/YSU Sports Information.

For those that attended Thursday’s game at Beeghly Center, they saw a possible future.

During Youngstown State University’s 104-58 victory over Warren Wilson College, new and young faces showcased their talents. One was freshman Marcus Keene.

“Marcus is a very gifted offensive player,” Jerry Slocum, head coach, said. “He’s probably as far along as a freshman in terms of offensive skills that I’ve coached in a really long time. The concern with Marcus is that he’s just got to get
better defensively.

“You can’t score 20 and then give up 20. But, with freshmen, that’s always the case. He brings a lift to us in every game that we played this year.”

Keene scored seven points on Wednesday and topped that at the University of Massachusetts on Sunday with a career-high 20 points in 23 minutes off the bench while shooting 50 percent from the field.

“He’s a big energy guy coming off the bench,” sophomore Bobby Hain said. “I mean, for a point guard to come in even with his size: he can score the ball, he gets into the lane and he’s a great shooter.”

Keene averaged 25 points, four rebounds and four assists per game at Warren High School in San Antonio, Texas last year.

Despite his impressive performance, YSU (4-1) fell to UMass, 85-69. The Penguins shot 36.8 percent from the field but only 19.2 percent beyond the 3-point line. YSU also forced 19 turnovers and attempted 18 more field-goal attempts.

Slocum said the game was 70 percent a disappointment and 30 positive.

“I think the 70 percent of it was that I thought it was a lost opportunity,” he said. “I thought we had enough offensive looks to really be in there until the last possession. We didn’t shoot the ball very well at all. I think it was the 30 percent positive side to it because as bad as we played, we were right there.”

Hain recorded his second straight double-double with 14 points and a team-high 10 rebounds. Senior Kendrick Perry also tallied 14 points and collected seven rebounds. The Minutemen (3-0) shot 55.2 percent from the field.

“We definitely went out there and competed,” Hain said. “It showed that we can hang with teams like that. I feel like if we would have hit at least half of our shots, we would have won the ball game.”

Next for the Penguins are two home games. The first is on Wednesday against Thiel College in the second game of a doubleheader. The YSU women’s basketball team plays first.

The Tomcats (1-1) will play YSU for the first time since 1989. Thiel is also the first program the Penguins played in program history back on Dec. 14, 1927.

The final game this week is against Westminster College on Saturday at 11:15 a.m.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that one of your motivations in games like these is to play to your standard in terms of execution,” Slocum said. “The other thing is to be able to get your younger guys playing time. You obviously want to spread those
minutes around.”

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