Home isn’t where the wins are

It wasn’t all that many years ago when road wins were, well, far-fetched notions.

Now, they are the standard for the Youngstown State men’s basketball team.

Winning at home these days, that’s another story.

“We haven’t had a meaningful home game since Kent,” YSU coach Jerry Slocum said. “We have really learned how to play well on the road. We’re not ready to play well at home. It’s disappointing. They’re distractions at home. There’s inabilities, at times, for us to execute. We’re not like most teams that get a bunch of those games. We haven’t had a meaningful game since Kent and I take responsibility for that.”

Defeating non-Division I teams like Hiram, Geneva and Marygrove, which YSU did during December, may do that.

But, that would be an easy solution. It’s more than that, much more.

After Thursday’s 101-60 shellacking by Detroit, Slocum wanted to make a point about his team.

It was as good as time as any to shed the inability to play at the Beeghly Center. It was a sparse crowd of 2,202 Thursday, which is more than likely going to thin if the Penguins can’t get their act together at home.

But getting people to home games isn’t a concern for YSU (9-7, 1-2 Horizon League). Winning games cures that.

The Penguins need to find a way to transfer its success, more like passion for playing on the road, back to Youngstown.

YSU went 1-1 on a road trip to Chicago against two of the better Horizon League teams in UIC and Loyola. YSU came up short against UIC and rallied to beat a tough Loyola team to open league play.

“I was concerned about it walking off the floor in Chicago,” Slocum said. ” I said that to our kids, ‘I hope we can carry this intensity at home’ – that toughness we play on the road with. We got rocked tonight.”

One thing the Penguins must do next time around is have the mind of a NFL cornerback. Yea, you might of got burned for a 70-yard touchdown, but there’s three more quarters remaining. Man up and play.

“You have to let mistakes go,” Slocum said. “You have to learn how to be coached and those kind of things. We’re no different as a staff as we are here. It is what it is and we have to do it at home.”

For whatever reason, this Penguins team has let its practices go for not during home games. Frankly, YSU should’ve beat Kent State earlier this season. The Penguins had the better team, but couldn’t put the 40 minutes together.

“We’re so efficient in scouting reports when we’re on the road, that’s what I’m saying about learning how to play at home,” Slocum said. “We’ll go on the road and say this kid favors his left and that kid can’t go left on our guys. We knew (Detroit’s Ray McCallum) goes to his left. Those are the kind of things where you’re minds not right. We’ve got to get our mind right at home. It’s is as simple as that.”

YSU is a good team, believe it or not. Thursday’s result may not have show that against Detroit, arguably the best team in the league.

“We have a lot of respect for Youngstown and what Jerry’s doing and how he’s improved the program,” Detroit coach Ray McCallum said. His son Ray is a point guard for the Titans. “He has one of the top teams in the league. They won at a tough place in Loyola. That’s going to be tough for anybody. And, they won one at Georgia. They’re veteran guys are as good as anybody in the league.”

After the upcoming two-game road trip to Milwaukee and Green Bay next week, the Penguins play seven of its next nine in Youngstown.

It’s up to YSU to prove its as good as anybody in the league on its home court – Beeghly Center.