Although it may seem backward, the Youngstown State University men’s basketball team is glad to leave home and hit the road this weekend.
While YSU is 4-2 at home this season, only one of its victories came against a Division I opponent. Meanwhile, the Penguins are 5-3 on the road, with victories against George Washington University, the University of Georgia and Bowling Green State University.
After Thursday’s 101-60 loss to the University of Detroit Mercy at Beeghly Center, head coach Jerry Slocum said his team fell victim to “distractions” that surround a home contest.
During Monday’s press conference, junior guard Kendrick Perry addressed Slocum’s comment.
“There’s always a couple of distractions — here and there — at home,” Perry said. “Obviously, you want to play well in front of your friends, family and classmates.”
So, don’t think the Penguins (9-7) will be too upset when they board the bus for games at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (4-13) on Thursday and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (8-9) on Saturday.
“When we’re on the road, nothing matters because it’s just about us,” Perry said.
Perry, averaging a team-best 16 points and 4.4 assists per game, added that the isolation causes YSU to become a “really focused group.”
“After practice, you’re not going to class. You’re not going to your own room,” he said. “You’re going to a hotel room where the only people you can really talk to are your coaches and teammates. That helps, but, at the same time, we have to find a way to be more focused at home.”
However, for this weekend, the Penguins just want to continue their on-the-road success.
“We’ve had some really, really good days of practice,” Slocum said on Monday. “It has not been a tough thing for us coaches. Our kids have really taken ownership in terms of how we played and want to get back to it.”
The YSU women’s basketball team is also eager to get back on the court.
Coming off a loss at Valparaiso University on Saturday in their Horizon League opener, the Penguins host Milwaukee on Thursday and Green Bay on Saturday.
“It was disappointing for the players, coaches and whole program,” head coach Bob Boldon said of the Valpo loss in which YSU fumbled a 15-point lead. “But you can only dwell on it for so long because you have to play games this week as well.”
UWM holds a 4-9 record, while Green Bay is 14-2. But before the Penguins (10-4) can worry about their opponents, senior forward Brandi Brown said YSU has to first work on its own deficiencies.
“We struggled maintaining effort in the Valpo game and in games before that,” Brown said. “I think it comes down to everyone individually taking pride in what we do, taking pride in playing defense and wanting and having a desire to win.”
Boldon added that if the intensity doesn’t increase, his team “won’t win another game all year.”
“I’m very honest with you guys, and it’s 100 percent true,” he said. “If we give that effort, we will lose again.”