By Dan Hiner
Even though the Youngstown State University men’s basketball team lost 95-64 to #11 Purdue University on Saturday, the Penguins are walking away knowing they put up a tough fight against on of the top teams in the nation, and a potential Final Four team.
YSU (4-6) held a 14-13 lead over the Boilermakers with just over 10:00 minutes left in the first half. Purdue was able to get a few shots to fall, but the Penguins were still in the game going into halftime down 41-30.
Purdue (11-0) didn’t start pulling away until the second half. At that time, the Boilermakers frontcourt started to take over and dominated the paint. But YSU head coach Jerry Slocum said the team played well defensively.
“I thought we really played well against Purdue defensively right up to the last media timeout or right around the 6:00 mark,” Slocum said. “We were still kind of right there, we just didn’t shoot the ball very well. We got a lot of thing to work on with a young group to get better.”
Slocum said playing in a basketball environment like the one in Purdue can help the development of a young team because his players will never play another team as talented as the Boilermakers in the near future. He said there isn’t an environment like that anywhere in the Horizon League and he was happy with the way his team performed against a more talented team.
“You can’t measure the maturing factor that has with your group. So to me that was really, really positive that we were down by 11 at the half — they made a 3-[pointer] to make it 11. It was a fight for right around 30 minutes. I was really happy with how hard we competed,” Slocum said.
Now the Penguins are preparing to play Geneva College, one of Jerry Slocum’s former teams. Geneva is 0-7 and coming off a 86-60 loss to Bethany College on Saturday.
Slocum was the head coach of the Golden Tornadoes for nine seasons. He was 203-80 during he’s stint as their coach and finished with 20 or more wins in his final eight seasons at Geneva.
But Slocum isn’t concerned with reminiscing about his time there. He’s more focused on developing the young YSU team and getting them prepared heading into the Penguins’ final three nonconference games that include trips to the University of Michigan and the University of Notre Dame.
“My time in Geneva was a very enjoyable time in my career. I have a lot of friends still there. The most important thing, for me, is our team right now. We’re obviously in a stretch that’s very, very, very competitive in terms of our three out of last four [games heading into conference play].”
YSU won the last meeting with Geneva 93-50 back in 2012 and has won the last 15 meetings between the two schools.
Tip off is scheduled for 7:05 at the Beeghly Center on Tuesday.