Calhoun continues progress with YSU

Jerrod Calhoun sat in front of the media for the first time since taking the head coaching position at Youngstown State.

One of the first pieces of this new Penguins men’s basketball puzzle was complete with four high school signees, a transfer and three junior-college recruits joining the program. Calhoun made this transformation following his five-year journey at Fairmont State, ending with an appearance in the NCAA Division II title game.

Calhoun said the incoming players are the right mix for what he wants to accomplish. The freshmen come to campus around June 8, but first and foremost, the schedule has to be solidified.

With the departure of Valparaiso from the Horizon League to the Missouri Valley Conference, YSU had to do some shuffling and plans to add a fourth guaranteed game. Butler, DePaul and Utah State are signed, but there’s a Big Ten team to be named shortly that should bring in around $100,000. That is added to the $85,000 each from Butler and DePaul, while Utah State is giving $90,000. Pretty good take home to enhance Calhoun’s first year.

Calhoun said the schedule should be complete in the next couple of days.

From there, the countdown to YSU basketball begins.

Between here and there, the Penguins are in the weight room. Calhoun said the strength program is essential because the Penguins have to build the chemistry and make sure this team is pushed to its limits, so they have to use this weight room to build much-needed endurance. The Penguins want to consult with a nutritionist as well. Calhoun said this state-of-the-art weight rooms provides the equipment they need to succeed.

This Penguins team, which will be furiously running on offense and defense, needs to go 11 deep. Calhoun said his team has those incoming players, along with the returners, to implement his system.

“You have to have the bodies,” Calhoun said. “You have to have the guys that can get up and down, that can be conditioned in the weight room.

“That’s what we wanted to do. All these kids are going to have a chance to play right away because we play so many guys.”

The rest of the players come to campus around June 22.

There’s a team camp on June 11, and Calhoun said about 60 teams are planning to attend this one-day event — providing the opportunity for 500 to 600 players on campus. Plenty of these teams are from northeast Ohio, including defending Division III state champion Villa Angela-St. Joseph.

It gives prospective players a chance to see YSU’s campus, the Beeghly Center, weight room, film room, etc. It may put a seed in a couple of them that the Penguins might be their eventual landing spot.

“When you get them on your campus, what we have found, our numbers have been really, really good to landing these guys,” Calhoun said.

That leads to verbal commitments and that coveted letter of intent. Those verbals fly out fast on Twitter.

Some coaches haven’t embraced this new era of Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, along with highlight films. The 35-year-old YSU coach is not one of those. The teaching begins in the film room.

“We show highlight videos before the game,” Calhoun said. “We try to get our guys pumped up before the games. We do different things because that’s how they’re learning.”