YSU starts Wisconsin road swing tonight

YOUNGSTOWN – Kendrick Perry and teammates have the right mindset, especially on road trips.

“We’re a really focused group on the road,” Perry said. “There’s no distractions. You’re not going to class. You’re not going to you’re own room. You’re going to a hotel. The only people you can talk to are either the coaches or the teammates. That helps, but at the same time you have to find a way to be more focused at home so stuff like last game doesn’t happen.”

Same can’t be said of home games. YSU is 4-2 at the Beeghly Center, but the two meaningful games – Kent State and Detroit – were both losses.

The Youngstown State University men’s basketball team was lambasted 101-60 at the hands of Detroit last Thursday.

The Penguins (9-7, 1-2 Horizon League) had ample time to recover from an embarrassing home-court performance.

YSU’s play might have soured some fans in coming back to see the Penguins after this week’s two-game road trip, tonight at Green Bay (8-9, 7-1) and Saturday at Milwaukee (4-13, 0-3). Both games start at 8 p.m.

“We just have to win,” Perry said. “Obviously the Detroit game was a huge disappointment for us, but we can’t let it make our season. We can’t let it break our season.

“We have two games coming up this week, two very tough places to play. If we take care of business there, we should be good.”

It won’t be easy to win against either team. YSU is a combined 15-48 all time against both squads. The last win at Green Bay was a first-round Horizon League Tournament win on March 4, 2003, 65-61. The last time the Penguins won at Milwaukee is a little more recent, a 73-65 win on Jan. 31, 2012. YSU swept the Panthers last season, but split with the Phoenix.

Green Bay is 7-1 at home, with its only loss to a Southern Illinois team led by Warren G. Harding graduate Desmar Jackson.

Since that loss, Green Bay has been 5-0, allowing 47.4 points per game – including a 49-47 win against Marquette.

“This is a basketball team that is on purpose at home and we’ll have to have a very special effort to get it done there,” YSU coach Jerry Slocum said.

It won’t be easy with a trifecta of players averaging more than 11 points per contest – led by 5-foot-11, 166-pound sophomore point guard Keifer Sykes, who puts in 15.6 points and 4.1 assists per game.

Alec Brown, a 7-1, 226-pound junior center, puts in 11.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per outing, while 6-9, 265 senior power forward Brenna Cougill is a handful with 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.

“Green Bay, to start with, is a very tough team,” Perry said. “When you get them on their home floor and they shoot the ball really well, they get good energy off of their crowd. Every play has to be a stop. Every offensive play has to get a good shot or a basket and don’t give their crowd any more momentum than they already have.”

YSU needs to recoup the focus it had at the beginning of the season, starting off with wins at George Washington and Georgia.

“Hard work, a tremendous amount of focus, just getting back to what we do, playing defense, boxing out and pushing up the floor and executing on offense,” Perry said. “Green Bay is a very tough place to play. It’s one of the places since I’ve been here that I haven’t got a win at.

“I got to make sure as a group that we’re focused.”