By Dan Hiner
Jerry Slocum, the head coach of the Youngstown State University men’s basketball team, has been disappointed throughout the first half of the season with the team’s performance at home.
Thursday night’s 81-65 loss to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee might have been the last straw. “Disappointing” was the one word Slocum kept repeating when he was describing his team’s play.
“I’m very disappointed with our effort. I tired of it frankly,” Slocum said. “I’m tired of play great on the road or hard on the road, coming home and laying eggs. Disappointing…I’m very, very disappointed with our effort. I’m very disappointed with our guys’ effort. That’s not the team…that’s not the team I’ve coached the last three games on the road.”
YSU started off well. The team jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first minute and a half of the game, but the final 39 minutes of the game didn’t go as smoothly. Milwaukee responded with an 11-1 run and the Panthers never gave up the lead.
Early in the season Slocum identified the need to play with a better sense of urgency when at the Beeghly Center.
“We have not found that formula at home so far. Even at the end of last year, but even this year, we have played somewhat of distracted. We have an opportunity to play some home games and we have to play better at home. There’s no doubt about it,” Slocum said during a press conference on Nov. 30.
Slocum is still trying to find a way to get the team to perform better at home, but he said he doesn’t know if the team’s performance is related to the players’ preparation or if the team needs to take pride in playing at home.
“I have no idea. We’re preparing them; we’re doing the exact same stuff. At some point home is going to have to be something they take a little pride in — a little chip on their shoulder.”
Slocum said the Penguins didn’t do anything well against the Panthers. But the worst part of the team’s play came on the defense side. Milwaukee’s Akeem Springs scored 33 points, 21 points in the first half.
The Penguins allowed Milwaukee to shoot 50 percent from the field, including 43.3 percent from behind the 3-point line. The Panthers had their way with the interior of the Penguins’ defense, scoring 30 points in the paint and 14 second chance points.
“Very, very poor effort on our part tonight. We didn’t slide, we didn’t do anything well. Our offense affects our defense. We don’t make shots, then all of a sudden we start taking quick shots and we don’t play defense,” Slocum said.
Slocum said the team’s attitude while playing at home will have to change as the season progresses.
“The biggest part of it on the road was at times, we step up early in the first five, six, seven minutes and we’re making shots. We get home, we relax, we don’t make shots, and everybody starts to press and then we get selfish, the ball doesn’t move and it turns around and effects you on the defensive end.”