By Dan Hiner
The Youngstown State University men’s basketball team had a tough week on the road losing to Northern Kentucky University and Wright State University.
The Penguins were trying to overcome losses at Northern Kentucky, 84-64, and Wright State, 85-41.
Things didn’t get better against Valpo. The Penguins didn’t shoot the ball well, play defense or rebound on their way to a 96-65 loss to the Crusaders.
Valpo (16-3, 6-0 in the Horizon League) controlled the game from the opening tip. The Crusaders started the game on a 10-0 run and didn’t look back.
YSU (7-13, 2-5) gave up 21 offensive rebounds, the fourth time this season the Penguins have allowed 21 or more offensive rebounds in a game, which led to 23 second-chance points by Valpo.
“There’s nothing on that stat sheet that I like…I mean there’s nothing,” Slocum said. “As a staff, we probably spent…with Mike’s scout, between him and me we probably have 45 to 55 hours of prep time for them and talking about boxing out and talking about probably the best offensive rebounding team that I’ve seen in this league ever. That was one of our game emphasis and we gave up 21 — that’s discouraging. Got a lot of basketball to be played.
“I’m not defeated or discouraged. We got to find some answers and we got to get back to work. Again, it’s nice that we don’t play until Sunday, gives us a chance to get away for a couple of days and get back and have three or four really good days of practice before we take on this next three-game stretch on the road.”
Monday night’s loss was part of one of the worst three-game stretches in YSU history. The last time the Penguins lost back-to-back games by 30 or more was during the 2001-02 season when YSU lost to DePaul University 107-69 and Valpo 80-50.
The weekend took a toll on YSU’s frontcourt. The Penguins, who were already playing without starting forward Bobby Hain, lost starting center Sidney Umude during the loss to Wright State. Umude didn’t play in Monday’s game against Valpo.
“He went down in the first minute of the game against Wright State, and I’m not sure when he’ll be back,” Slocum said.
Slocum said the team’s young players are still growing and he wants to see the Penguins’ defense improve as the season goes on and he said the upcoming games will test the “character” of the team.
“The only encouraging thing of it for me is that it’s a young group and we’re going to see what kind of character we have in terms of being able to come out swinging and fighting the rest of the way,” he said.