When the Youngstown State University basketball program hosts doubleheaders, Bob Boldon, head women’s basketball coach, can’t help but notice the difference.
“Just the environment,” Boldon said. “There’s usually a bigger crowd on doubleheaders, and it’s just an exciting opportunity.”
Beginning at 5:15 p.m. on Thursday at Beeghly Center, YSU will get another opportunity to show off its ever-improving basketball program.
The women (15-5 overall and 5-2 in the Horizon League) open against the University of Detroit Mercy in the first game. The men (13-9, 5-4) will then tip off against Loyola University Chicago at 7:45 p.m.
“The best benefit is that your fans could come out in the cold of February and see both teams and not have to walk back out to the car,” said Ron Strollo, executive director of intercollegiate athletics at YSU. “They can kind of settle in for the night and enjoy both games.”
This will be the third doubleheader for the Penguins this season. The first two — Dec. 29 and Jan. 26 — proved successful.
On Dec. 29, the Penguins drew 1,658 fans. At the time, it was the highest home-attendance total on the season for the women. The Jan. 26 doubleheader set attendance season-highs for both teams, drawing a total of 4,395 fans.
“The reason for the good turnout was really three things,” said Rick Love, associate director of athletics. “You get two games for the price of one; it took place on a Saturday; and third, we were playing Cleveland State, which has kind of become a rivalry.”
The athletics department enjoys the doubleheaders, but it actually has no control over their scheduling. League officials set the schedule a year in advance.
“It’s just kind of the luck of the draw,” Love said. “Some years we have four, five or six. Some years we only have two, but, yeah, we certainly look forward to it because we’re able to plan events around them.”
YSU athletics will host an indoor tailgate in the Beeghly Center upper deck between games, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. The first 500 students will receive a free YSU Basketball Hoops T-shirt, and free pizza will be available to YSU students.
“We’re really making an effort to reach out to our campus population for this game, particularly our students,” Love said. “So, we’re [going to] do an indoor tailgate party for the YSU students to come up and get free T-shirts and hopefully root the Penguins on to a victory.”
The women’s team will try to capture its fifth straight victory when it plays the Titans (12-7, 5-2). The Penguins won at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Wright State University last week.
“We played very well this weekend and got two very good road wins,” Boldon said at Monday’s press conference. “We’re excited to get back in the gym and start preparing for Thursday’s game.”
Unlike the women, the men’s team will play on super short rest. The Penguins lost, 66-60, at Cleveland State University on Tuesday.
After its matchup with Loyola, YSU will host UIC at 2:05 p.m. on Sunday to cap off its busy week.
“This is as challenging a week as we’ve had so far in terms of league play,” said Jerry Slocum, head men’s basketball coach. “This is a big concern week for me.”