By Brian Yauger
“It was like there was a lid on the basket.”
That quote from Youngstown State University men’s basketball coach Jerrod Calhoun sums up the second half of the Penguins’ 88-77 loss to Western Michigan University quite well.
“I thought we got good looks, I thought we got layups, we were driving the ball. I thought we got hit on a few of them,” he said. “I thought maybe our concentration wasn’t there as we went to shoot the shot, but it wasn’t like we didn’t get good looks.”
Five players for YSU (3-8) scored in double digits, with Darius Quisenberry (11), Donel Cathcart (10), Garrett Covington (15), Antwan Maxwell (11) and Kendale Hampton (14) each getting 10 or more on the scoreboard.
Western Michigan (5-4) had three players in double digits. Michael Flowers had 25 points with Josh Davis scoring 17 points and Jared Printy posting 14 points.
Naz Bohannon only scored three points for the Penguins, but led the team in rebounds with nine. YSU was outrebounded by the Broncos, 42-32, with Davis leading the team pulling down 10. Bohannan also led in assists with six.
A lack of identity seems to be holding this team back, according to Calhoun.
“We’ve got to get an identity,” Calhoun said. “When you think of good teams, good programs, good coaches, you have to get an identity. I think with our young group we’re struggling to find our identity a little bit right now. I think that falls on the coach, I think that falls on the coaching staff. I don’t blame the players.”
The Penguins held a 58-56 lead at the 11:50 mark in the second half. YSU scored just one more point over the next six and a half minutes as Western Michigan went on a 17-1 run to take a 73-59 lead with 6:15 to go.
“We just have to find some guys that will be more consistent in their approach at practice,” Calhoun said. “Garrett Covington is a guy who really brings it every single day at practice. Naz, he’s going to bring it. We just need those two guys to get some others to follow. We’ve got some freshmen in there, some players new to college basketball in there, but we need a few more guys like those two kids in order to be successful.”
Calhoun also echoed just how close this group is to getting over that hypothetical hump.
“I feel their pain. They know they’re close but you know the saying ‘close but no cigar’, it’s not like the last two nights we’ve been blown out, I felt like we’ve played our very best,” Calhoun said. “That’s what’s frustrating, but we have to coach them up better and get them more ready to play, and I don’t know what that means. If that means ranting and raving or watching tape, I don’t know what that is with this group and I guess that’s the frustrating part. We can figure it out, we can certainly get them better. We’re young in a lot of areas, and we can only get better.”
With the loss, the Penguins fall to 3-8 and ninth in the Horizon League. Next up, YSU gets a week before facing off against the Binghamton University Bearcats on Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. in Binghamton, N.Y.