By Joshua Fitch
The Youngstown State University men’s basketball team has struggled out of the gates through 10 games of the 2018-2019 season. The Penguins have a record of 3-7 and are currently on a three-game losing streak.
The last of the three was a triple overtime thriller at Beeghley Center as the Central Michigan University Chippewas took down the Penguins, 100-94.
“Mental breakdowns,” Garrett Covington, Penguins starting shooting guard, said about what led to the loss for the Penguins on Tuesday. “Just not being in the gap defensively, just mental things.”
Covington, a sophomore, led the Penguins in scoring with 26 points and 13 rebounds, while playing in 48 of the 55 minutes in the game.
While the Penguins sit at four games under .500, three of its last four losses have been within 10 points, showing improvement. Though there aren’t any moral victories in collegiate sports, but steps toward improvement must be recognized.
“We’re just learning from this,” Covington added. “We’re going to continue to move forward. Watch film and get better after this.”
Turnovers have plagued the Penguins thus far into the season, averaging just under 17 per game while allowing 19 points off turnovers per game for opponents. In the loss to Central Michigan, YSU turned the ball over 22 times and allowed 33 points off those turnovers.
Jerrod Calhoun, YSU men’s basketball head coach, echoed the same message in the postgame press conference, saying his team must improve.
“Our kids battled,” Calhoun said. “That’s a 7-2 team for a reason, they have good guard play, but we just have to keep plugging away. We really gave the game away with our off turnovers. That’s the frustrating part; if you just limit those turnovers to 15 or 16, which a young team should do — not 22, you win the game probably going away.”
The struggles come with the territory along with learning experiences that Calhoun acknowledged. Learning opportunities will continue to present themselves going forward.
“You’re going to learn a lot,” Calhoun said. “That’s going to be a lot of teaching moments. I thought we learned a lot against West Virginia, but this one we’re going to learn even more.”
Looking ahead, the schedule doesn’t get easier for the Penguins. The team plays six of its next eight games on the road, where they haven’t seen a win yet this season. A notable matchup at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus with a matchup against the Ohio State University Buckeyes on Dec. 18.
Calhoun noted that his team is still a young one, one that is hungry and will continue to improve, but also one that needs to learn to take advantage when given the opportunity.
“I feel sorry for our guys because they competed their hearts out,” Calhoun said. “You need a win like that to get that thing rolling, and we haven’t had that yet. But it will come. We just have to keep working.”
Other standouts in the loss to Central Michigan was junior Devin Morgan who had 25 points, 21 in the second half, and sophomore Naz Bohannon who notched a double-double with 14 points and 19 rebounds.
The Penguins are next in action for an afternoon game Dec. 13 at home against Binghamton University before hitting the road against the Buckeyes, then traveling to face the University of Detroit Mercy on Dec. 28.