Will last year’s success breed continued success into the new year?
In Jerrod Calhoun’s third season at the helm at Youngstown State, there are still many questions involved with the Penguins. As a team that is looking to break into the top half of the Horizon League, the Penguins do have questions. For example, what is the next step that YSU can take to get into that top half of the league.
Last year, the Penguins posted a four-win improvement over Calhoun’s first year. Despite that, the Penguins still need a lot better conference play in order to be considered one of the Horizon League’s elites. With a 12-20 overall record and eight conference wins, the Penguins need to prove to the rest of the league that they belong. With multiple important players returning from last year, the Penguins core is mostly intact.
The top six scorers for the Penguins will be back in red and white this season. Darius Quisenberry, Garrett Covington, Devin Morgan, Jelani Simmons, Naz Bohannon and Donel Cathcart will all be ready to go for the Penguins. Morgan and Cathcart are seniors but the other four will be around for at least another year. Of the 75.5 points per game the Penguins averaged, those six players combined for 56.9 points. Overall, the Penguins get back nearly all its scoring from last year.
Besides scoring, the Penguins were able to outrebound opponents by nearly two per game last year with 37.7 but did get outrebounded on the defensive glass. The Penguins did however outrebound opponents by three on the offensive glass. That means the Penguins are getting opportunities but also giving up nearly as many on the other side of the floor.
If the Penguins can clean things up along with free three discrepancies, the Penguins may just be good to go this season. Last year, the Penguins attempted 505 free throws while opponents attempted 703. Opponents made 162 of those extra attempts which would average out to the difference in some games.
Overall, the Penguins have things to work on but they still have nearly the same players from last season to work on those with. The Penguins have a chance to make some noise in the Horizon League this year.
Tyler Foster – Foster spent last season at East Carolina University. In 30 games at ECU, he started six games. He averaged 4.1 points and 1.5 rebounds in 17.2 minutes per game. He ranked third on the team with 27 steals. As a transfer, he is just a sophomore and will have three more years of eligibility with the Penguins.
Jamir Thomas – A junior with no Division I experience comes to the Penguins with some great experience in his community college. In his two seasons at Garden City Community College in New Jersey, he was named as an Honorable Mention on the All-Region VI team. He averaged 14.6 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 54.5 percent and 38.1 percent from three. He also averaged 13.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks as a freshman.
Kenny Ganley Jr. – Ganley Jr is the first freshman on the list. At Brecksville-Broadsview Heights High School in Ohio, he averaged 19.6 points and six rebounds per game. At 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, he figures to be a depth piece on a pretty deep Penguins team.
Christian Bentley – Despite playing at a community college last year, Bentley has D-I experience. At Iowa Western CC as a sophomore, he averaged 12 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. He scored in double figures 16 times and had five 20-point games with a season-high 28 points. He also made 44 threes and 44 percent from the floor. At Siena, he made 11 starts in 29 games. He shot 46.5 percent from the floor and 50 percent from three.
Daniel Ogoro – The only other true freshman, Ogoro was a two-time All-Mid-Atlantic Prep League First-Team at Mercersburg Academy in Massachusetts. He averaged 12 points, six rebounds, nine assists and two steals in his senior season at Springfield Commonwealth Academy.
Barring anything crazy happening, I’ll assume that Jerrod Calhoun will roll out mostly the same lineup from last year.
Prediction: The Penguins should be much better than most assume and I think they can sneak into the top four of the conference this year. With that, the Penguins have a chance at about 17-19 wins with somewhere near 10 conference wins. Those predictions don’t seem too far off.
Miss anything from Preview Week? Check it all out below: