Is this the one? It’s a question that most folks will ask when they believe they’ve found their soulmate and the same may be true for Youngstown State University men’s basketball.
This year could be the year it has always been dreaming of. It’s late January and it’s worth asking despite a recent loss on the road at Milwaukee.
Could this be the year the Penguins make a run in the Horizon League tournament and win the whole thing? Could it finally be playing in the NCAA tourney?
The answers could be yes. They also all could be a huge HELL NO, but that’s on the shoulders of many men now.
In the Jerry Slocum era, there was always one guy that every Penguins team had to rely on.
For Jerrod Calhoun, he arguably won the Horizon League off-season title of the “Transfer Portal Champion.” He went out and added veteran players to go with all the good from last year.
Let’s go deeper and find out what has happened and what could happen if everything goes the Penguins way.
This last offseason is turning out to be damn near a masterclass of recruiting. Recruiting has gotten harder by the day and Calhoun did a damn good job this year adding what he needed talent-wise.
Calhoun went out and recruited offensive fire power and so far it is working.
Brandon Rush, Adrian Nelson, Malek Green, and Bryce McBride all came on to YSU’s roster this year. They are four of the top five scorers on this roster. Dwayne Cohill, a transfer from the year before, is the leading scorer.
Cohill has been the clear offensive weapon this year. He’s averaging 17.1 points per game on 54.7 percent shooting and 50 percent from three on three attempts per game. He has also hit 86.7 percent of his free throws. He has solidified himself as the No. 1 option in this offense and for good reason. He also has snagged 1.57 steals per game to boot.
Nelson and Green have been vital to YSU’s paint success this season. Green is averaging 14.6 points and 7.2 rebounds on 55.3 percent shooting.
Nelson is the Penguins fourth-best scorer at 11.9 points per game while being YSU’s beat rebounder at 9.1 rebounds including nearly three offensive rebounds per game.
In the backcourt, Rush and McBride’s scoring and pace have been super important.
Rush is the third-leading scorer with 14.4 points per game. He’s put up twice as many threes as the next guy and has done so efficiently. He’s shooting 42.5 percent on six attempts per game.
IMPROVING IN EVERY WAY
Offensively, it’s a staunch improvement from last year. The Penguins are averaging 84.5 points per game. That is a near 12-point difference. This offense ranks tied for fifth in the country as of this writing.
The Penguins lead the nation in offensive efficiency with 1.142 points per possession according to teamrankings.com. Numbers like that can propel this squad to a conference championship. By no means is that guaranteed but it’s definitely on the board.