Penguin basketball team involved in community

On Thursday, the Youngstown State University men’s basketball is hosting the first Penguin Premiere at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Youngstown.

Fans have the opportunity to interact with new head coach Jerrod Calhoun and the rest of the coaching staff — learning how the team is going to play and who they’ve recruited. In addition, the team will be introduced at the end of the event. It starts at 7 p.m. and tickets can be obtained prior to the event by calling 330-941-3004.

It’s similar to what Calhoun implemented at Fairmont State, a program he guided to the NCAA Division II title game last season.

“First couple of weeks on the job we were passing out T-shirts,” Calhoun said. “I remember the old football coach saying, ‘You don’t start until November.’ The great programs, basketball is year-round. You’re having different events. You’re having your team in the community.

“That’s what I believe, basketball never stops. It’s my job to not only get my players, but my coaching staff out there.”

The evening was to feature watching New England Patriots’ rookie (third-round pick and former YSU defensive end) Derek Rivers taking on the Kansas City Chiefs. Rivers’ season was sidelined due to an injury.

“It’s just devastating,” Calhoun said. “Injuries are so sad for players, really the player that goes through it. And it’s so devastating toward a team.

“Our hearts are broken for him.”

STUDENT INVOLVEMENT: Calhoun also plans a meet and greet with the students on campus in the next month or so.

No date has been set as of yet.

He’d like to get the Penguin Pack (student-athlete support group), fraternities and sororities, other athletic teams and other students for a meet and greet at practice.

Calhoun hopes that leads into a tip-off practice with both the men and the women.

“We want to do something where we engage those students,” Calhoun said.

NOT ON THE SIDELINES: Calhoun came to Wednesday’s workouts with a bandage on his right hand. He had carpal tunnel surgery.

Instead of taking the day off, he drove to YSU after the surgery.

“It’s not a big deal. It started at the end of last year,” Calhoun said. “I’m one of these procrastinators. Something I had to get done.

“I wanted to get here. I didn’t want to miss workouts. There’s a difference between being really sick, hurt and injured. I’m just hurting a little bit. I’m not injured where I can’t be here.

ACTIVE PARTICIPANTS: YSU’s basketball team was at the Penguins volleyball home opener in which YSU beat Robert Morris on Aug. 29.

They were actively cheering on the team inside the Beeghly Center.

On Aug. 27, they participated in the Panerathon.

There, Calhoun met many people who were interested in talking basketball.

“Youngstown never ceases to amaze me,” he said. “This community is really a different community. You’ve got some really special people, hard-working people. It’s just better than I thought.

“They’ve been tremendous to me, my family, coaches and players. You can tell they want a winner in basketball. They want to get around this team, support the team.”