By Nathanael Hawthorne
Youngstown State University men’s basketball coach Jerrod Calhoun said in a press conference that he would like to see more student involvement at the home games.
Calhoun noticed the amount of student support at Wright State University and Northern Kentucky University, and he said he would like to see more YSU students in the stands.
“We’ve got to get more students involved,” Calhoun said.
While Beeghly Center has a student section next to where the YSU Pep Band plays, students sit scattered around the court. Calhoun wants to see the program grow and develop, and he believes more student involvement is the missing piece.
Junior Garrett Covington shared that sentiment. He said he would love to see more students at the games because it creates an incredible environment and atmosphere.
“The more students that we have, I think it kind of energizes us players, and it’s going to create some incredible atmosphere,” Covington said.
Moving on to gameplay, the team is heading into the final few games of the season. With only seven games left in the regular season, the team is sitting at a 6-5 Horizon League record, which is tied for third in the conference.
The team has had a few days off, which Calhoun believes is helpful for the next couple of games.
“We’ll have four days of prep; [we] spent a couple days on ourselves, working on some of the things we need to get better at doing,” he said.
Some of those things include situational awareness, playing with a lead and understanding better shot selection and defensive rebounding. On the defensive rebounding side, the team is averaging 25.9 rebounds per game.
With the season winding down, every game, specifically every home game, is important. Calhoun said in college basketball, winning and playing well at home is important. Statistically speaking, the team has done just that with a 10-2 home record.
“Coach Calhoun and the rest of the coaching staff have really emphasized the importance of taking care of business at home,” Covington said. “We know how difficult it is to win on the road, so I think it’s a great opportunity for us to keep things rolling and then go on the road and take care of business.”
Looking ahead, the team wraps a five-game homestand Saturday against Cleveland State University. The Penguins then hit the road for two games, come back to Youngstown for two games and then finish the season away.
“I think it’s going to get real crazy down the stretch,” Calhoun said. “We just got to continue to fight and continue to get better. The most important thing we can’t do [is] overdo it with practice. We still have to challenge them. … I think the guys have had a good approach.”
In their previous matchup against Cleveland State, YSU lost 82-74. Currently, the team has won two of four games in this homestand, with three consecutive games going to overtime.
Tip off for the game against the Vikings is scheduled for Feb. 8 at 6 p.m.