By Najah Morgan and Christina Sainovich
Youngstown State University’s men’s basketball team kicked its season off with a huge victory over Thiel College.
Not every game will be as easy, however. As a young team, the Penguins will look toward key players for leadership as the year goes on and they face tougher and tougher challenges.
Garrett Covington, junior communication studies major, said he doesn’t think his large role on the team has changed a lot since freshman year. He said he has to play hard, play aggressively and play defensively.
“I think I could add to the team by offensively helping as much as I can because I am a defense-minded person, so I have to make sure I play both ends of the ball,” he said.
Covington said he is working on attacking the rim as much as possible and playing hard is the most important.
He had a game-winning 3-pointer against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers last season and hit a huge buzzer beater against the Oakland University Golden Grizzlies his freshman season.
Darius Quisenberry, sophomore sports broadcasting and communication studies major, said he is trying to improve on his leadership and defensive role.
Quisenberry led the team in points and assists last season as a freshman and was named to the All-Horizon League Second Team as well as the All-Freshman Team. He said it’s important to play hard and take every opportunity.
“You have to come in every day and work because nothing is given to you,” Quisenberry said. “Minutes and playing time is earned. The new guys are starting to figure out that coming in everyday and giving it their all is what’s expected of them.”
Nazihar Bohannon, junior business major, said his role has gotten larger. As a freshman, he was learning about college basketball, but as he got to start in more games, his role became more of a leader for the new players.
“You must have the ability to play hard,” Bohannon said. “That’s what’s important in college basketball: just the speed of the game and not only that but how smart you have to be because every execution matters.”
He said he has been working on his offense during the offseason and being able to help others get better.
Bohannon finished second in the conference in rebounds in the 2018-2019 season and recorded his 500th career rebound.
Penguins coach Jerrod Calhoun said Bohannon and Covington have grown as people on and off the court.
Off the court, they are inseparable. The duo arrived on campus together, wanting to help establish and better the program.
“They both have done a really nice job of leading these guys everyday,” Calhoun said.
Calhoun said Quisenberry is certainly going to have a big year because he is a constant reminder that as a point guard, he has to command the team, the court and lead others, getting them more involved.
“That’s what an MVP does; they affect others and make them be great,” Calhoun said.
Calhoun said he believes these three players can change YSU basketball forever if they go to the NCAA Tournament — a feat the team has never accomplished.
He said he believes his group is very capable of this important task.
“They all have a lot of potential; we just have to develop that potential,” Calhoun said.