Slocum values veteran squad

By Greg Gulas


A year ago at this time, YSU men’s basketball coach Jerry Slocum stood before the Curbstone Coaches and told them that his team was young and that there were quite a few question marks that needed addressed.

Entering his 12th season at the Penguins’ helm, he feels as if it is a completely different story this season.

Addressing the group during Monday’s weekly luncheon meeting at the Avion Banquet Center, Slocum stated that it’s a whole different culture this year.

“A year ago, all but one player had never played in a Horizon League game. This year we have 10 upperclass leaders, we’re a lot deeper and I am as excited as I have ever been in terms of our overall talent,” Slocum said.

The player Slocum referred to with league experience last year was Bobby Hain, who played in just 13 games after a hand and leg injury limited his court presence

Among those who return to the fold is the Horizon League’s second-leading scorer – he was also the top scorer against the league – from a season ago, Cameron Morse (20.3 points per game, whose 44 point output against Wisconsin-Green Bay was the league’s top individual effort last season), the second best three-point shooter (Matt Donlan, .463 percentage) and Francisco Santiago, whose 1.9 (139 assists, 74 turnovers) assist to turnover ratio was good enough to tie for sixth in that category.

“We’re older, more mature and as the year progressed, we had quite a few players that gained valuable experience,” he added. “We’ve also added a couple solid freshmen and Junior College transfers so the depth is there.”

NCAA rules permit teams 30 practices in the 42 days prior to the start of their seasons, also allowing coaches two hours a week over the summer to work with their squads.

If the season were to start tomorrow, Santiago would be entrusted to run the offense, Morse would be the second guard while Braun Hartfield, Brett Frantz and Rahim Williams are in a battle at small forward.

Matt Donlan and Stefan Rosic are the power forward frontrunners while Slocum says that the center slot is a “two-headed monster” with Devin Haygood and Jorden Kaufman both expected to see plenty of playing time.

The team’s 5th annual Kick-Off Banquet is slated for October 30 at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church as assistant coach Stew Robinson, who played collegiately for Bobby Knight at the University of Indiana, is set to serve as guest speaker.

Slocum added that he is also looking forward to hosting this year’s Northeast Ohio Coaches vs. Cancer Basketball Doubleheader on November 12.

“We’re excited to be this year’s Coaches vs. Cancer host as Medical Mutual has underwritten the whole cost of that event so that all of our ticket sales go right to the American Cancer Society,” he said. “My goal is to be able to give the American Cancer Society a $30,000 or $35,000 check. To do that, we need to get about 4,500 people in there [Beeghly Center] that night.”

In the opening game, Kent State will take on Cleveland State at 5 p.m. with the Penguins hosting the University of Akron at 7:45 p.m.

“All of the teams are better than they were a season ago with Akron returning nearly everyone from last year’s 26-win squad,” Slocum added. “Also, we are going to be honoring two former YSU head coaches that night, Dan Peters and Bill Dailey with a free, catered meal at halftime for all cancer survivors.”

Next week, YSU women’s basketball coach John Barnes will be the featured speaker.