More than meets the eye with YSU hoops

YOUNGSTOWN — Todd Burkey stood in a corner, watching and observing during Thursday’s game. His focus was vastly different than those in the Beeghly Center stands watching and complaining about a missed call, errant shot or successful play.

They all saw the last-second bounce pass from Darius Quisenberry to Garrett Covington who beat the buzzer for a game-winning 3-pointer Thursday night against Milwaukee.

A dogpile ensued as player after player from the Youngstown State men’s basketball team celebrated with Covington in one mass of humanity in front of the media table. Fans saw celebration, but Burkey was worried, hoping that none of the players injured themselves.

Burkey, who is the athletic trainer for the YSU men’s basketball program, knows each of these players as well as if not better than the coaches.

Burkey is the one who sees all of the player’s injuries, big or small, and provides treatment in and away from the Beeghly Center.

It is one of the three behind-the-scenes looks I’ll be providing from my recent road trip Jan. 30-Feb. 2 with the YSU men’s basketball team to Oakland (Michigan) and Detroit. That series on life on the road with the Penguins is scheduled to start Sunday in the Tribune Chronicle.

There is Mark Richmond on the YSU bench. He is the team’s director of basketball operations, which is confusing to most fans. What does he do? Answer: More than I can explain in this snippet.

He is the key to any successful road trip for the Penguins, anything from the hotel stay, to the team meals, transportation and most incidentals. Richmond is planning for 30 people on each road trip. I’ll bet he’s putting the final touches on the road trip in less than two weeks to Wright State and Northern Kentucky.

YSU coach Jerrod Calhoun knows about Richmond’s job. He held the same position for West Virginia on Bob Huggins’ staff. By the same token, Richmond sees a couple of YSU students helping out the team. They are the team managers. He was one for WVU the same time Calhoun was the director of basketball operations for the Mountaineers.

You can see these young men rebound for the Penguin players in warm-ups, bring out a red carpet during introductions. There’s much more. On the road, they are responsible for the team’s gear, getting it on and off the bus. They constantly have something in their hands. Down time is a true rarity for these folks.

Kevin Bruinsma and Danny Reese make their way toward a stand in the lower middle of the wooden bleachers behind the YSU bench. A tripod and a couple of bits of camera equipment are in their hands. Both are part of the men’s basketball staff, but their jobs are to video Thursday’s game.

That film is part of the film sessions the team has in preparation for home and road games, but much more goes into preparatory sessions. Countless hours prior to the game, reviewing hours of game film are needed.

Players shoot around prior to the game. There’s the action during those 40 minutes. It’s something we see live or on a broadcast. The other things are not so noticeable.

For now, enjoy watching tonight’s home game against Green Bay, starting at 6 p.m. Look for those behind-the-scenes facets which go into every game.

With every game-winning shot or heartbreaking loss, there’s a lot more that goes into it than a fan sees in 40 minutes of action.

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