YOUNGSTOWN - Ryan Weber is all about numbers.
The Youngstown State University sophomore majors in finance and he's well aware his men's basketball team could cash in by closing their current four-game homestand with two victories against Valparaiso and Wright State.
"I'm kind of a stats guy," Weber said. "I keep up on everybody and what they're doing. I know these two games are crucial. If we win both of them and things go the way we want, we could get outright second. If we drop them, we could fall as low as seventh."
YSU hosts Valparaiso Thursday and Wright State Saturday. Both games are at 7:05 p.m.
The Penguins are 12-8, 3-2 Horizon League. YSU is tied for third with Valparaiso (11-9, 3-2). Milwaukee (13-7, 3-3) and Cleveland State (11-9, 3-3) are knotted in the fifth spot, while Oakland (7-13, 2-3), Detroit (8-12, 1-4) and UIC (5-14, 0-5) round out the league. Green Bay is on top at 15-3, 5-0.
YSU coach Jerry Slocum said Green Bay had a chance to get their first league loss, against Wright State, Milwaukee and UIC earlier this season.
"I was hoping in one of those three games, someone might have tripped them up," Slocum said. "With them winning those close games, there's going to be some really, really tough fights for that second seed."
The top seed hosts the quarterfinals and finals of the Horizon League Tournament and the finals if they're still alive. The top two seeds get a bye to the semifinals, while the third seed has a first-round bye. Seeds four through six host seeds seven through nine in the first round.
Those numbers won't mean much to YSU until mid February.
The statistics that concern Weber are in the stat line he produced Saturday in a 77-63 win over Detroit.
He was 5 of 9 from the floor, 3 of 7 from 3-point range for 13 points. It was the 12th time this season Weber scored in double figures. His back-to-back 3-pointers in the second half helped YSU pull away against the Titans.
Weber's view on those long-range jumpers aren't based on a feeling. He'd rather use deductive reasoning because seeing is believing.
"I guess I never know until they're going up," said the 6-foot-6 sophomore forward, who leads YSU with a 40.8-percent average from 3. "When they're not going, I keep shooting. I think that's the issue I had last year. I would get down on myself and shy away from it. This year, I found my confidence in my shot. So, I've been putting them up and they've been going in."
Weber has benefited from YSU's motion offense. When it's functioning properly, it can be the best in the Horizon League. The nearly 80-points-per-game average has something to do with it, but it's the assist-to-field-goal ratio that makes it flow. Saturday against Detroit, YSU had 20 assists to its 24 field goals.
"We just hit the open man. We don't have a selfish guy on the team," Weber said. "You've seen it plenty of games this year, people have popped up with 20 that you wouldn't expect. It's just that game they were open and made shots.
"We're not selfish. When we share the ball, we're pretty deadly."
YSU doesn't solely rely on its leading scorer and Horizon League-leader Kendrick Perry for a bulk of the Penguins offense. The 21.2 points per game is nice, so is Kamren Belin's 12 points per game.
Bobby Hain, DJ Cole and Weber combined for 53 of YSU's 77 against Detroit. All three are averaging in double figures through five league games.
"Coach said it to me, Bobby and DJ at the beginning of conference play, everybody knows KP and Kam had big conference games last year," Weber said. "They've been playing well in the first semester, so they're going to be keyed on. You guys need to make plays when it's time. Know that we need you guys to step up.
"Guess we've been doing what we've been told."