For the past quarter of a decade, Youngstown State University basketball hasn't been that noteworthy.
This year has been completely different.
The Penguins have finished the regular season above .500 - even in the Horizon League at 15-14, 10-8. They are hosting a first-round Horizon League Tournament game. And, YSU has more than a handful of road conference wins under its belt.
The Penguins' 10 conference victories, after winning two last season, is the biggest one-season improvement in Horizon League history.
If YSU coach Jerry Slocum doesn't get some consideration for league coach of the year, frankly it would be a crime.
The resilience of this YSU team has been uncanny all season. Aside from a couple of losses, this Penguin team is one of the best teams in the league.
Whether the Penguins are the best team in the league this year is yet to be decided, but it's a long way from the team's dismal past.
The couple of seasons in the mid-1980s under then coach Mike Rice (75-67) was the last time YSU had any sustained success, the Penguins were very close to winning the Ohio Valley Conference Championship at Middle Tennessee State in the 1984-85 season, but fell short, 66-63.
It goes without saying that YSU basketball was the end all, be all under legendary coach - the late Dom Rosselli, who was 589-398 in his tenure and proceeded Rice.
There were a couple of seasons under Dan Peters where the Penguins were quite viable and it was under his tenure that YSU last went to a conference championship game. In the 1997-98 season YSU lost to Valparaiso in the Mid-Continent Conference title game - that was the same year current Valpo coach Bryce Drew was the NCAA Tournament darling after his buzzer-beating 3-pointer to beat Mississippi in the first-round and vault the Crusaders to the Sweet 16.
Then, there was the 19-11 season with current Kentucky assistant John Robic - YSU's last season in the Mid-Con. Entering the tournament, the Penguins were thought of one of the favorites to win the Mid-Con title. However, an off game against Oral Roberts in the first round - a team YSU beat twice that season - thwarted those hopes.
Most recently, YSU had the 2006-07 season with talented backcourt of Quin Humphrey and Keston Roberts - eventually resulting in the Penguins' first home tournament game since the mid-1980s. The Penguins held off a feisty Detroit team, 82-80, but lost to Green Bay in the quarterfinals under Slocum. The Penguins finished 14-17, 7-9 that season.
Interestingly enough, YSU lost to Detroit on Saturday. And, YSU hosts Green Bay on Tuesday in a first-round tournament game. That said, YSU could meet Detroit in a second-round game at Valparaiso.
This is the best year YSU has had under Slocum, who said at the beginning of the season his team would finish the season in the top third in the league.
But YSU finished the regular season in the middle of the pack.
But don't let that deter your look of this talented team. YSU has had consistency the last seven years under Slocum with it finally clicking for the long-time mentor this season. Slocum has had success in his previous stops at Gannon, Geneva and Nyack.
Slocum has had assistants Michael Wernicki, Brian DePaoli and Byron Thorne with him from day one at YSU.
It hasn't been an easy ride getting to this point. Slocum was 58-121 at YSU coming into this season. He was above .500 at his other three stops and near or above .700 at Gannon and Geneva.
Now, winning at YSU has not been an easy task. Since Rice, who is a color analyst for the Portland Trail Blazers, left YSU, the Penguins are 284-402.
The coach that seemed to have YSU on the right track was Peters, but he left to take an assistant job with his friend and then Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins. Peters (1993-99) had the best mark with YSU since at 78-87 - including going 18-10 and 20-9.
Interestingly enough, Robic's first road game was against then No. 1 Cincinnati - a 94-67 setback against the Bearcats, where Peters was an assistant.
Now, coaching YSU men's basketball hasn't been an easy task. Frankly, it's one of the hardest jobs in the country. This is an area deeply entrenched in football 24 hours, seven days a week, 365 days of the year and 366 on leap years.
That said, the Penguins have stayed the course with Slocum and his staff, who have been devout on bringing a winner to YSU since day one.
It's a hard sell to this area where they are used to the Jim Tressel-led football Penguins of the 1990s - winning three straight NCAA Division I-AA Championships.
As good as this season was for YSU, the Penguins have to remain steadfast and build off of this season to get continuity (wins) and fans in the seats.
Maybe, one year soon it will parlay into an NCAA Tournament berth. That appearance would bring more national notoriety to the school than those four Division I-AA Championships.
YSU has a choice next season - improve or fade into YSU history like a one-hit wonder.
If it keeps up the resilience it's showed time and time again, the Penguins will be a consistent winner in years to come.