YSU assistant excited about Penguins’ future

YOUNGSTOWN — Bobby Steinburg shares his father’s gift.

Bob Steinburg was a radio personality and serves in the North Carolina House of Representatives. Knowing or meeting people is more than an art, it’s a way of life for Bob.

It’s a trait Bobby has utilized coaching men’s basketball, one he brings to Youngstown State as its associate head coach.

“My mom (Marie) used to tease him and say your father would talk to an open mailbox because everybody’s his friend,” said Bobby, who turns 42 on Monday. “The second he meets you, everybody is his friend.

“They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I enjoy people. I learned at an early age just how to act and how to deal with every type of person, every age, and to treat them all equally, and how to engage in conversation. Sometimes when people aren’t as talkative, to be able get them talking and get them to open up, trust you and those type of things. My mother as well.”

He started his college career as a graduate assistant at Middle Tennessee State University during the 1997-98 season and recently was under coaches Geno Ford and Rob Senderoff at Kent State University since 2008. He was Motlow (Tenn.) Community College’s coach from 2006-08.

He’s been an assistant at UC Davis, Bellarmine University and the University of Idaho as well.

Leaving Kent State after the Golden Flashes won the Mid-American Conference and went to the NCAA Tournament wasn’t an easy decision. KSU was a perennial 20-win team with good staying power in the MAC.

He met YSU first-year coach Jerrod Calhoun about eight years ago while recruiting. The two talked and stayed in touch since.

Both shared a vision that this YSU men’s basketball program is a sleeping giant, one that has been dormant for the better part of three decades.

The Penguins went 13-21 last season and have had 11 20-loss seasons in the 16 years they’ve been in the Horizon League.

Calhoun, who revamped the culture and program at NCAA Division II Fairmont State, leading the Falcons to this year’s national championship game, has a vision for this Penguins program.

Calhoun likes Steinburg’s experience, that he has a good grasp on mid-major basketball being at Kent State.

“You want to surround yourself with winners,” Calhoun said.

Steinburg grew up in Richmond, Va. His parents moved to North Carolina about a decade ago. Steinburg is very familiar with coaches in both Virginia and North Carolina.

“Those are areas we’re going to attack on the recruiting trail,” Calhoun said. “He’s going to give us a great opportunity to get kids in those areas.”

It’s about developing a winning attitude in the YSU players. At Kent State, it was prevalent during the team’s so-called money games against schools like Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State. KSU went into Texas and beat the Longhorns this season.

“Our guys didn’t go in thinking, this is a money game, we’re going to lose” Steinburg said. “They went in there and said we’re going to win. That’s how we were able to beat a lot of those teams, because they had the confidence.

“You have to have that same approach in recruiting.”

Not only is this YSU staff busy recruiting future players, but fans as well.

Steinburg’s childhood friend from Richmond, Va., Barry Dyngles owner Shawn Hannon, said there’s a buzz going around about the YSU men’s basketball team, something he hasn’t seen this time of the year.

Steinburg said it was because of the backing the program has had from YSU President Jim Tressel and Director of Athletics Ron Strollo.

Eventually, Steinburg said, YSU is going to create excitement on the floor with its up-tempo style of play.

“I truly believe you have to reach these people and invite them out to a game,” Steinburg said. “It’s not going out and asking for money, wearing the shirt and hope you show up. It’s personally inviting them. Hey, we’d like you to come out to our first home game and see what you think.

“They’ll support who they know and who they connect with. The more we’re out in the community, not just speaking, but being out, being accessible. The more people will jump on board.”

He has a way with words, telling prospective players and fans a winning program is coming to the Beeghly Center. It’s something Steinburg learned years ago.

“We want to build a program. We don’t want to just put Band-Aids on it,” he said.