YSU BASKETBALL Perseverance pays off for Patton

The senior earned an extra year of eligibility thanks to a grueling academic schedule.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Ryan Patton started all 29 games for the Youngstown State University men's basketball team last year.
He had a career-high 163 assists and scored 305 points, including a career-high 32 points against Western Illinois, and scored in double figures 12 of the 29 games.
But nothing that Patton did on the court could measure up to what he did in the classroom.
When he arrived here from Valley Forge High School, Patton didn't meet the academic requirements to compete in basketball. He wasn't able to be redshirted, so it appeared that he lost a year of eligibility.
But if Patton graduated with his freshman class, he could earn back the lost year.
So he worked hard. He took 18 credit hours in the spring semester and an unbelievable 23 credit hours during the summer. In August, he received his degree in sociology with the rest of his class.
"I'm so proud of Ryan Patton and what he accomplished in the classroom so he could play again this year," said YSU head coach John Robic.
"The load that he carried was unbelievable," Robic added. "Taking and passing 23 hours this past summer was more than most students take in an entire year. I think it was more than I took in two years when I was going to school."
Workload: It was tougher than he expected, Patton said..
"I never dreamed it would be that tough, but I had so much help here," he said. "There were so many people who cared about me and what I was doing, and they helped me get through it."
The work help to prepare him for the coming season, he said.
"Just to get that extra year back is such a great feeling," he added. "But it has made me work that much harder in the gym because now I want to get the most out of this year."
And the 5-foot-11 standout is planning on getting more out of his education in the process.
"I'm going to be taking more classes in psychology, which was my minor, and hopefully I'll be able to get a double major out of this also," he said.
Plenty of help: While Robic praised Patton's effort, he also lauded the university.
"This says so much about our university and how they care about their students," Robic said. "It wasn't just because he was a basketball player; they would do that for any of the students here.
"I'm more pleased about how our kids are doing in the classroom than I am about our 19-11 season last year," Robic added. "All of our seniors and juniors are on line to graduate, and this pleases me more than anything."
Patton is excited about the coming season, the new Horizon League schedule and his new teammates.
"I think that this team will surprise a lot of people," Patton said. "We have some good young players coming in and some good old ones returning.
"The new Horizon League is going to be a challenge, but we played Detroit last year and should have beaten them," he added. "I missed a shot at the buzzer. But they were the second-best team in the league and we held our own with them."
The Penguins will kick off the 2000-01 season on Nov. 2 in an exhibition game against the Czech Usti, and their first regular season contest is Nov. 17 at Evansville. The first regular season home contest is Nov. 20 against Slippery Rock at 7 p.m. in Beeghly Center.