By Dylan Lux
The Youngstown State University men’s basketball team completed a record-breaking season after its loss to Power Five opponent Oklahoma State University in the National Invitational Tournament.
The men ended with a record of 24-10, tying the franchise record in wins set by head coach Dom Rosselli in the 1963-64 season. The team also finished 15-5 in conference play.
The team finished with the best record in the Horizon League, achieving first place after the regular season. This was the first time the Penguins have won the regular season title, placing them at No. 1 in the Horizon League tournament.
Head coach Jerrod Calhoun spoke at a press conference about what winning the regular season means to the program, and what it meant to play in the postseason.
“I’m a big believer in the regular season really means something … we won a championship so we get a chance to compete for another championship against some really good teams,” Calhoun sai
The Penguins then hosted University of Detroit Mercy on March 2 for the Horizon League tournament, defeating the Titans, 71-66. The victory clinched a spot in the final four of the Horizon League in Indianapolis.
Graduate student Adrian Nelson described the support the team received during the home playoff game.
“It’s just really amazing to see how much Youngstown really supports us from the beginning of the year to now,” Nelson said. “It’s crazy just seeing so many red shirts out there, just watching us play and coming out to see us.”
YSU played the University of Northern Kentucky on March 6 at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis. The Penguins came up short, falling to the Norse 75-63.
Despite the loss, the men continued to make history, earning a spot in the NIT, and hosted a game against Big 12 opponent Oklahoma State University.
Senior guard Bryce McBride said he was excited the team had the opportunity for another home game.
“We’re extremely excited because we thought that our last home game was going to be against Detroit Mercy but for us to play a Big 12 school, a high major team, potentially give Beeghly [Center] it’s biggest fan base ever, we’re really excited,” McBride said.
The Penguins came up short against the Cowboys, 69-64, ending the Penguins’ record-breaking season.
Senior guard Dwayne Cohill earned a spot on the All-Horizon League First Team, the ninth Penguin to receive the honor.
Nelson and senior guard Brandon Rush received All-Horizon League Third Team nods, and John Lovelace Jr. is a member of the All-Freshman Team for the Horizon League. Lovelace Jr. was the third Penguin to receive the honor.
Calhoun was named Coach of the Year in the Horizon League for leading the Penguins to the best record in the conference in the regular season and tied the school record in wins.
This is the last season for four of five starters on the Penguins men’s basketball team, including Cohill and Nelson.
Rush has the option to return for his fifth season, as his 2020-2021 season was affected by the pandemic. This gives him the option to play a fourth full season.
Shortly following the team’s loss in the NIT game, junior forward William Dunn entered the transfer portal after playing in 25 games this season.
The Penguins already have several high school seniors committed to joining the team.
The recruits to date are 6-foot-4-inch guard Anthony Breland, 7-foot-3-inch center Gabriel Dynes, and 6-foot-4-inch guard, National Junior College Athletic Association transfer David Wilkerson are the recruits the team has at this time.
As the Penguins secure more recruits, they’ll be announced on the Verbal Commits website.