Penguins will be much improved
by Vince Pellegrini, Jr.
Horizon League beware! The Youngstown State Penguins will be a
much improved ball club in 2003. I spoke to assistant coach Dolph
Carroll and he is very optimistic about this season. Although the
Penguins will be young, they should be very entertaining to watch. The
freshman class has potential to be the very best recruiting group that
Y.S.U. has ever had. With the addition of two prep stars from the
peach state the backcourt will be the best group of athletes Northeast
Ohio has seen in a long time on the basketball court. Head coach John
Robic has more depth than he has had in recent memory.
The Penguins only lost starting point guard, Marlon
Williamson, from a team which went 9-20 a year ago. Youngstown State
snapped a thirty-one game road losing streak at the Resch Center in
Green Bay, 65-61, on March 4.
The Pens backcourt looks to be the strong point on a team
which is going to surprise a lot of people. Jonathan Mends, a 5'11
Miami native, is entering his sophomore year and he may be looked at
to be the floor general in November. If it is not him it will be the
exciting freshman point from Mike Woodard. He is from Creekside High
School in Georgia. He was a second teamer in the peach state a year
ago. The man running the two is only going to get better. Junior Doug
Underwood is just going to get better and better. That is very scary.
Underwood, last year, was the team's leading scorer. His backups look
to be sophomore Andy Jahnke and freshman Quinn Humphrey. Current
Wagner assistant coach and former Penguin coach Ross Burns and
freshman Woodard are the ones who have been given credit for luring
Humphrey to Youngstown. Quinn was being recruited by Tennessee and
Auburn. Also don't forget about 6'2 sophomore Derrick Harris. Last
year was a tough season for number twenty-two. He was hampered by
injuries but the Cambridge, Massachusetts native should be able to
produce more this year.
The small forwards look to be led by 6'6 senior TeJay
Anderson. He is due to have a banner year. As a freshman he looked
like a future star here at Y.S.U. He has shown signs of his ability
but hasn't put together a string of games where he has dominated.
Backing up TeJay will be freshman Craig Anderson from Mount Prospect,
A couple of upper classmen will be on the floor in the low
post. 6'8 senior Adam Baumann was a great pickup as a junior college
transfer a year ago. He led the team in rebounds and blocked shots. He
was also second in scoring. Baumann became one of the team's leaders
in a short time. Two other seniors will be looked at for some time to
help out down low. Bill Mallernee (6'6) and Jamel Porter (6'7) both
shared time last year and look for more of the same this season.
Juniors Brian Radakovich and Khari McQueen should play a lot at the
four spot or as a backup behind Baumann. The 6'7 Radakovich played a
lot as a freshman in the middle. McQueen is becoming a household name
on the campus of Y.S.U. He is a large man. In last year's media guide
he was listed at 6'5 and weighing 287. That was an understatement. He
is a wide body but he gives it all he has. He displays a lot of heart.
Freshman 6'6 John Barber will also be counted on. Barber is from
Detroit and he is an athlete to say the least.
The schedule is much more challenging than last year's. Y.S.U.
opens on the campus of Niagra University on Saturday, November 22.
Three days later the Pens will find themselves playing in Toledo
against the Rockets on the 25th. Last year, the Penguins defeated
Toledo, 69-61, at the Beeghly Center. The Penguins open their home
schedule on November 29 against St. Francis of Pennsylvania. Y.S.U.
will try to redeem themselves from a year ago when they were beaten
bad in Loretto. The non-conference schedule has trips to Boston
University (12/1), Buffalo (12/6), and Pittsburgh (12/13). As well as
home games against Oakland (12/20), UMKC (12/22), and IUPU-Fort Wayne
(1/31). The Horizon Schedule looks to be very challenging. Three games
early on in 2004 have the Pens making trips to Chicago for games
against Loyola (1/3) and Illinois of Chicago (1/5) and also to Green
Bay for a contest versus the Phoenix (1/8). Butler makes their annual
call to the Mahoning Valley on January 21. Illinois of Chicago comes
to town on February 11 and Dylan Page and his Panthers of UWM come
calling on February 14. ESPN's Bracket Buster will be held on
Saturday, February 21. Y.S.U. will be involved and will be on the road
this year against a team to be announced at a later date. In 2004-05
the Penguins will be hosting the bracket buster. Y.S.U. finishes their
season at home with a battle against Detroit on Saturday, February 28
at 7:35 PM.
It should be an exciting season for the Penguins and their
fans. This is the first school year that Youngstown State University
has had their new state of the art Courtyard Apartments open. This
should increase the attendance with more students being on campus.
Y.S.U. is mostly a commuter school and has had trouble in the past
getting kids to the game. Hopefully this will help the cause as
Youngstown State is slowly becoming a player in the Horizon League.
E-Mail the Author:
Vince Pellegrini Jr.