Penguins prepare for Slocum’s ‘biggest challenge’

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Senior DuShawn Brooks posts up against a University of California, Riverside, opponent on Nov. 18. The Penguins return to Beeghly Center before heading back out on the road. They look for their third home win of the season. Photo by Dustin Livesay/The Jambar.

The men’s basketball team (5-2) begins a five-game, non-conference stretch with the State University of New York at Fredonia (6-1) on Tuesday.

Head men’s basketball coach Jerry Slocum said in a press conference on Monday that the Blue Devils are having a great season thus far, and they’re a dangerous group because of their ability to shoot the 3-point field goal.

“On top of that, you’re coming off of an emotional loss, a loss that you had your last shot of the game at 7 or 8 feet that could’ve gone in,” Slocum said.

The Blue Devils are shooting 39.9 percent from the 3-point line.

The Penguins return home after a two-game road trip to the University of Detroit Mercy on Thursday and Wright State University on Saturday. The Penguins won on Thursday, 64-61, but lost on Saturday, 63-62.

“We probably played as hard for two games of 80 minutes of basketball as we played since I’ve been here,” Slocum said. “I mean, we went to Detroit, and we just battled. We went to Wright State, and we just gutted it out and played hard.”

Senior forward DuShawn Brooks said during the weekly press conference that the WSU game was a tough loss. He noted that the Penguins need to look ahead.

“We need to focus on the next opponent instead of coming out being sad about losing by one,” Brooks said. “We had them right in our hands, so I mean we just come in and practice today. We look forward to playing … and moving on from there.”

Slocum agreed.

“You lose by one point. You’re looking at 25 [to] 30 different things that be made differently,” Slocum said. “We’ve got to get ready for a really, really good Division III team that has potential to give you fits.”

Following the game against the Blue Devils, the Penguins will travel for three straight games with stops at the University at Buffalo, the University of Toledo and the University of Akron, before returning home to face Robert Morris University.

The Penguins’ next conference game is Dec. 31 at Cleveland State University.

Slocum said there would be much to learn from this experience.

“We’re going to see what kind of upperclassman leadership we have,” he said. “We’re going to see what kind of focus we have because this is really the gantlet of our year right now.”

Slocum also previewed what the Penguins will face, beginning with the Blue Devils’ best start in “15 years.”

“Then you go to Buffalo who beat [the University of] Dayton by 30,” Slocum said. “And then you go to Toledo that’s having a good year. Then you go to Akron, and then you come home to a Robert Morris basketball team that took [the University of Pittsburgh] to the wire.”