By Marc Weems
The Youngstown State University men’s basketball team (10-17, 4-10 Horizon League) will be looking to bounce back from a four-game losing streak when Wright State University (17-9, 8-5 HL) comes to town.
YSU’s four straight losses have been by more than 11 points per game.
“One of the toughest things in this business is to play well enough to win and not win,” YSU head coach Jerry Slocum said. “We had two really special efforts from our guys last week. Probably played as well as we have all year. It’s heartbreaking that you can’t get the reward of a win.”
Guard Cameron Morse earned Horizon League Player of the Week last week, while averaging 34.5 points per game and 1.5 steals per game.
“It’s more of a matchup thing, but it was other guys weren’t playing well, let’s be honest,” Slocum said about Morse’s performance. “He’s kind of found his rhythm and add that up, that gets someone more minutes.”
Slocum also said that if you looked on film, YSU was just one of two plays away from winning or being in both games last week.
WSU comes into this game on a two-game win streak after beating University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and -Milwaukee at home. The Raiders have also won six out of their last eight games, with losses to Northern Kentucky University and Valparaiso University.
YSU does have some leverage in this matchup as they beat WSU on the road 80-75. YSU had four guys in double figures, while WSU had five players in double figures. WSU only shot 37 percent, while YSU shot 47 percent in that game.
Slocum told his players after their loss at Valparaiso that it’s terrible to watch the guys play so hard and not receive the reward for playing hard.
“Both those teams are coming off great weeks,” Slocum said. “Both teams are fighting for that two seed, three seed and four seed in the conference. They are just two really good basketball teams.”
The second team that YSU will face at home is Northern Kentucky (17-9, 8-5 HL). NKU goes into their game against Cleveland State University on Feb. 16 having won five out of their last six games, winning by an average of eight points.
In their match-up with YSU on Jan. 5, NKU forward Drew McDonald put up 15 points with 15 rebound along with two blocks.
“Wright State has a really special player and Northern Kentucky is probably the best defensive team in the league,” Slocum said. “This is going to take another week of special effort. Maybe some breaks here and there will make this a good week.”
Slocum said that they have actually played better on the road than they have at home.
With both WSU and NKU coming in on good streaks, YSU will have to slow down the people they couldn’t in their first games.
Morse is second in the league at 23 points per game, while point guard Francisco Santiago leads the league with 4.9 assists per game.
For WSU, guard Mark Alstork has led the way with 18.5 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game.
“It was a good week for us,” Slocum said. “I’m not happy with the outcome, but I’m happy with the improvement in effort. I hope the kids get a reward for their effort this week.”
YSU will take on WSU on Feb. 16 at 7:45 p.m. and then take on NKU on Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. which are both a part of a doubleheader with the women’s basketball team.