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In Topic: The Town Crier

Yesterday, 06:11 PM

Tension in the Penguin Colony
By Steve Porter

Rumors about some rough practices and animosity between players on the Penguins basketball team surfaced this first week of November. When asked about them, 2nd Assistant Coach A.D. Kenna responded, “We really amped up the intensity of our practices this week. Coach Durant thought our practices had been good, but that the players were settling into too much of a routine. So we put some pressure on them and it resulted in a little pushing and shoving and a lot of trash talk and one-upmanship. But I think we needed that to increase the competition for playing time and starting roles. There’s just a little over a week before we start playing other teams. We still have a cohesive team that will pull together once we get our season rolling.”

In Topic: The Town Crier

August 11, 2018 - 11:20 PM

Penguins Land First Recruit
By Steve Porter

The Youngstown State University Athletic Department reported that the Penguins basketball team has received a verbal acceptance of a scholarship offer from their first recruit of this season. C Morris Phelan, a senior at Westside High School in Gary, Indiana will be heading to YSU next year. Phelan is 6’9” tall and as a junior last year, he averaged 15.2 ppg and 9.4 rpg. He’s presently the 96th highest ranked recruit in the nation. The Penguins still have 3 more scholarships to fill this year.

Brandon Warren the Penguins’ new 1st Assistant Coach who is responsible for recruiting said, “It’s really been a battle getting recruits to visit our campus this year so that’s hampered our ability to attract them to our program. We’ve been aiming high so we lost some of the talented recruits we were pursuing to higher prestige programs. But I’m really happy to have Morris coming our way next season. In the summer it didn’t appear we had a chance of getting him, but he was impressed when he finally visited our campus and then Coach Durst did a great job of working him and his parents during recent home visits. He’s a strong inside scorer, but more importantly he’s a rock-solid rebounder and a lock-down defender. With Aaron Tice graduating after this season, it’s important to get another tenacious defender inside and I think Morris can be that person. His coach has told us how hard a worker Morris is and that he’s had no injury problems so that’s good news.”

An unnamed source has said that the remaining Penguins’ recruiting budget is low and could impede efforts to go after recruits and that Coach Durst is concerned they may not fill scholarships that will be opening this season. Calls to the Athletic Department and basketball coaches to follow up on this were unreturned. Prior discussions with Coach Durst have revealed that his attempts over the past three years to increase the recruiting budget have been thwarted.

In Topic: The Town Crier

August 08, 2018 - 02:05 PM

YSU Prepares for The 2020-2021 Recruiting Year
By Steve Porter

Youngstown State’s recruit class last season has been rated as 40th best in the nation. The next best recruit class within the Horizon League was Milwaukee at #86. But Coach KD Durst feels the program is ready to move up yet higher in the coming years. Because of that Coach Simmons, who had been the recruiting coordinator, was replaced a month ago by Brandon Warren. 

When asked about his goals for this coming season, 1st Assistant Coach Warren said, “We have 4 scholarships to award this year so we’re going to have to work hard and have a little luck on our side as well. As in previous years, we’re still going to focus on the Midwest region due to a limited budget. I’d really like to be able to aggressively recruit on a national scale, but we’ll have to be content to do that on the secondary market, which is what I call the players still available in the spring.” 

With regard to the type of recruits the Penguins would like to land, Warren laughingly replied, “I’d love to get a guy who can score 30 points, grab 15 rebounds, and dish out 10 assists each and every game.” He then quickly added, “OK, I guess you wanted me to discuss reality instead of dreams. We really need a couple big men, one of whom has the ability to step right in and challenge for a starting role, and a point guard. Then we can go after the best player available regardless of position for the fourth scholarship.”

In Topic: The Town Crier

August 05, 2018 - 09:39 PM

Coach KD Sez
By Steve Porter

Now that things have slowed down a little following the Penguins extremely successful season, I was ble to sit down with Coach KD Durst for an interview:

SP: Congratulations on a great season, Coach. At the beginning of the season, did you expect things to go so well?

KD: Thanks, Steve. I thought we’d have a good team that would compete for the top spot in the Horizon League, but as far as getting to the NCAA Tourney and winning a game there, not really. It’s just too much of a crap shoot to win the league tournament. One off night or one great game by an opponent can knock you out and only the league winner gets to the Big Dance. The team did mesh better than expected though. We had so much depth at all positions that afforded us the luxury to not have to have players on the court until they were dog-tired. And while we had some injuries, they were minor with not all that many games missed by any player.

SP: Were there any pleasant surprises in how individual players developed?

KD: We had a pretty good idea about players since most had played for us at least a season. After pre-season practice, the guys’ capabilities were pretty clear. A couple young players played better than could have been predicted though. Even though we knew Colin Chambliss would be an adequate SF as a freshman, he was stronger than we anticipated, particularly on the boards. And sophomore SG William Swan steadily improved throughout the entire year, so much so that he eventually won a starting role. Both he and Chambliss turned out to be very good outside shooters and I expect that they will be more comfortable next season putting shots up so that will improve their scoring, even though it was good this season. Of course we were absolutely sure that Jamal Grady would be out go-to guy and he was. But Aaron Tice was also extremely strong inside, particularly as a rebounder and awesome defender. Another guy whose been on the team all four years I’ve been here is walk-on Kevin Anderson. This season we really needed him to come in and spell Jamal and Aaron because the only non-starting big man on a scholarship we had to come off the bench was Kent Jones. Kent did a very good job in that role, but we needed one more guy and Kevin came up big for us. Most every game he was able to produce points for us.

SP: So you’re losing Jamal Grady, Kevin Anderson, and two point guards, Levall Hart and Tim Lostetter, to graduation. What’s that portend for next season?

KD: All 3 are leaving big shoes to fill and I can’t expect we will have anyone of Jamal’s stature. First though, the guys who are coming back should even be stronger than they were this season, so that’s a plus. We have Pat White, who was ineligible this year because he transferred to us, who we think can play either SG or PG and he played well as a freshman starter at Oregon. Then LeRoy Delea was a redshirt freshman this season and we hope he will live up to his top-ranked billing he had as a recruit and give us depth up front. The three recruits we got this year all hopefully can come in and contribute for us as freshmen. Two of them, James Asbury and Noel Manley, were ranked in the top 100 nationally and the third, Will O’Neil, looks like he could be a very strong rebounder as well as getting his share of points. Losing Jamal and Kevin up front could mean we need to shift our focus from inside to outside next season, but we’ll see.

SP: You mentioned the good recruits you landed this year, but yet you have changed out your assistant coach responsible for recruiting. What was the reason?

KD: Really I felt it was just time to make a small change in our coaching staff and being able to get Brandon Warren on board was a real opportunity for us to strengthen what already was a good recruiting operation we’ve had.

SP: And speaking of coaching jobs, rumors are that you had several offers including Washington State in the Pac-12 and Texas Christian in the Big 12. Were you tempted to leave?

KD: You know, it’s not surprising that programs do some inquiring after your team makes it to the NCAA Tourney. I’ll be honest, it’s flattering. But I still think I have some unfinished business here at Youngstown State so I never gave serious consideration to any of those inquiries. My only concern is that I’ve been trying to get facility upgrades here, but the money has yet to be made available. If we really want to be more successful recruiting and developing our players, we need to have better facilities.

In Topic: The Town Crier

August 04, 2018 - 12:16 AM

Penguins Land Recruit
By Steve Porter

The third and last remaining scholarship was accepted by SG Noel Manning. Manning is a 6’5” HS senior from Thoreau, New Mexico. This season he averaged 17.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.8 bpg, and 1.8 spg. He’s an excellent outside shooter and shoots well from inside as well. Beyond being a good scorer, Manning is a strong ball handler and extremely athletic. He’s ranked as the 93rd best recruit in the country.

Other recruits previously signed by Youngstown State are SF James Asbury and C Will O’Neil.

In other news, 1st Assistant Coach Steve Simmons was released and Brandon Warren was hired to replace him. Warren, who is 60 and was Central Michigan’s 3rd assistant, is an exceptionally adept recruiter. Coach Durst said, “Brandon is a welcome addition to our staff. He knows the Midwest very well and is well-connected with a lot of high school and junior college coaches. Although we’ve been satisfied with our recruiting, we think Brandon can take us to the next level.”