Penguins in first home conference game

CLEVELAND — Jerrod Calhoun heard the alarms blaring at 2 a.m. on Monday.

The remnants of the New Year’s Eve revelers came into the downtown Cleveland hotel where the Youngstown State University men’s basketball team was staying. Someone pulled a fire alarm.

Lesson learned. Stay somewhere away from downtown next time.

The Penguins (3-11, 1-0) also changed things up on their schemes in their Horizon League opener Monday against Cleveland State since YSU’s post play had been marred by fouls for much of this season. Not so during the 70-67 victory over the Vikings. No one fouled out.

YSU coach Jerrod Calhoun wanted his team to throw the ball inside more to Tyree Robinson and Devin Haygood. Robinson, a 6-foot-5 undersized forward, can be a difficult matchup with his ability to spin off of defenders. The hitch is for him to play 20 to 22 minutes a game.

“Wish he could run it up and down the court a bit more. He was gasping for air,” Calhoun said.

Haygood, a 6-7 forward, is sacrificing his body by diving on the floor and providing some unsung, tenacious play under the basket.

“Devin Haygood has come into his own, playing hard,” Calhoun said.

YSU outrebounded the Vikings 36-24 on Monday, but the statistic which caught Calhoun’s eye was the 23 assists.

Every time the Penguins have reached 20 or more assists, YSU has won. The Penguins had 29 against Franciscan and 20 versus Westminster, the team’s other two victories.

Monday’s victory ended a six-game road trip. The Penguins haven’t played at the Beeghly Center since a Nov. 29 setback to Robert Morris. Tonight, YSU hosts Milwaukee (8-7, 1-1). The Panthers are 2-4 in their last six games.

Calhoun hopes Monday’s performance carries over to the Penguins’ first Horizon League home game.

“They should feel really confident,” he said. “Hopefully our fans haven’t forgotten about us. They’ve been awesome so far.”

It should be better sleeping in their own beds for this two-game home stand. YSU hosts Green Bay on Saturday, starting at 7 p.m.

At least there won’t be any fire alarms going off on campus, one would hope.

“It was a strange thing,” Calhoun said of the fire alarm going off in their hotel.

SANTIAGO TO HAVE SURGERY: YSU senior Francisco Santiago said he will be having season-ending ACL surgery on Tuesday. Santiago tore his ACL during a summer league game and wore a brace on it, trying to play through the injury during the first month of the season.

However, during a Nov. 29 Robert Morris game, a Colonials player fell Santiago’s knee. He has been out of action ever since. Calhoun said the university is trying to secure a sixth season of eligibility for Santiago.