Basics mean everything for YSU basketball

YOUNGSTOWN

JOHN Barnes saw the four wooden, folding chairs all set on a 45-degree angle, facing toward the hoop. One was knocked out of place. He quickly went over to straighten it back into place.

Everything was succinct and had its place. It’s been Barnes’ discipline each and every time his team is in the gym.

Time accounted for, as well as his team’s actions.

Let me interrupt my train of thought. Four chairs. Gym. OK, if you’ve seen the movie, you think of Hoosiers. The only thing missing from Barnes was a brown leather bomber jacket, a worn basketball twirling in his hands and a back story about him being in the Navy for the past decade or so.

This is the Beeghly Center, not some fictional gym in a cornfield in Indiana. One can reminisce. I sure as heck do and don’t apologize one bit. It’s my thing.

Just as many times as I’ve mentioned Hoosiers over the years in a column just like this, it’s repetition — something I saw during this Youngstown State University women’s basketball session. Each and every action Thursday had a purpose, whether it was guarding, scoring layups or shooting free throws. It’s what Barnes expects out of this team. It’s a program which has been one of the teams to beat the Horizon League for the last decade. Barnes and his philosophies have been instrumental in this program having multiple 20-win seasons and postseason appearances.

The YSU men, under third-year coach Jerrod Calhoun, is on the cusp of being in the upper part of this league.

There’s been years past when these Penguins have not passed an eye test. I remember when YSU played teams like Buffalo and Toledo years ago at the Beeghly Center and it looked more like a varsity against a freshman team instead of two NCAA Division I programs.

This time, there’s no doubt these Penguins pass the eye test as sophomore guard Darius Quisenberry has the look of a high-level Division I player. The 6-1 guard has arms that are defined, looking like you don’t want him driving on you — laying your body out on the floor. However, he’s not as big as former Oakland star Kay Felder. That dude looked like a bodybuilder.

It’s a noticeable difference for this YSU team — some have lost weight, some added some. Either way, they have put significant time in the weight room. It will show up this fall and winter.

These men, just like the women, have been doggedly running drills. It’s about the repetition. It’s about doing the little things.

This Penguins teams might measure up and surpass most teams in the Horizon League or on their non-conference schedule, but won’t mean a thing if the basics are not there.

New YSU assistant coach Chinedu Nwachukwu came from Michigan’s program with current Cleveland Cavaliers coach John Beilein, whose program emphasizes those fundamentals during this time of the year. It has shown as the Wolverines were one of the better NCAA Tournament teams during the past seven seasons.

Discipline. It’s about learning those lessons during the offseason, layer it to each step leading to the 2019-20 season.

Without those basics, there’s nothing.

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