Another year has passed for the Youngstown State University women’s basketball team. With that year passing, the Penguins are dealing with the loss of a record-breaking players for the second-straight year.

Last year, YSU was dealing with the loss of four-year point guard Indiya Benjamin and then-record holder Nikki Arbanas. This year, head coach John Barnes and his team will be dealing with the loss of sharpshooter Alison Smolinski and post player Sarah Cash. Despite losses like these, the Penguins have continued to evolve the way they play the game.

Next Woman Up

The Penguins have always found a way to win games no matter the roster. Now with another set of starters yet again, the question is who steps up in their absence. With just one true senior, Mary Dunn, the Penguins will be playing without a ton of older experience. That isn’t to say they don’t have any experience.

Chelsea Olson dominated in stretches last year and figures to be a starter yet again. McKenah Peters will most likely be a starter but could also be the YSU’s first player off the bench to provide the energy she has brought for two years. Of course, Dunn will now be tasked with being YSU’s No. 1 option down low.

Wild Card Players

There were a few players that played decent minutes but were generally inconsistent. Amara Chikwe played well when she played while Deleah Gibson provided a decent spark for the Penguins off the bench.

Besides those mentioned, no other woman has any experience with the Penguins yet.

As for players with something to prove, Emma VanZanten, a 6-foot-4 post player who transferred from Western Michigan, will look to prove that her year off was worth the wait.

Ny’Dajah Jackson will also be eligible to play after sitting out last season after her transfer from Providence. Jackson will look to provide YSU with good guard play especially coming from Big East Conference play.

Needing to grow fast

Barnes will probably start the season with a short rotation due to inexperience. Luckily, the Penguins have a few games against lesser competition which will give him time to play freshmen. This roster features five true freshmen and two red-shirt freshmen. That is half of the Penguins roster marred with inexperience. 

John Barnes hasn’t failed the Penguins yet as head coach so don’t count on that anytime soon.

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