Penguins need to harness sense of urgency

YOUNGSTOWN – Deadline pressure.

Term paper due the next day. Getting everything together after Friday night high school football.

The adrenaline which flows through you is much more effective than a cup of coffee spiked with a Red Bull.

That sense of urgency has to be there the next two games as the Youngstown State University men’s basketball team hosts Wright State (8-10, 2-3 Horizon League) and Northern Kentucky (14-4, 4-1). Four of the next five games are against some of the best this league has to offer, including top three teams on the road in Oakland and Detroit Mercy.

YSU (6-13, 2-4) had that in Saturday’s win at IUPUI, rallying from a blowout loss the previous game at UIC.

The Penguins had a letdown the final 4 minutes of that win, but held off the Jaguars. Closing out games have been hard to come by for YSU.

The Penguins only two wins inside the Beeghly Center has been against NCAA Division III teams Westminster and Heidelberg.

YSU has lost about four games by six or seven possessions. The Penguins know Wright State has the same thoughts, victories that have eluded the Raiders as they come in tonight, starting at 7 p.m.

It won’t be an easy two-game homestand since Northern Kentucky comes in Saturday at 1 p.m.

YSU coach Jerrod Calhoun said his team has to be tough to play at home to get a sense of urgency and some consistency with a team that starts three freshmen and two sophomores.

“Their sense of urgency will be at an all-time high,” said Calhoun of Wright State. “Our guys have to understand that. Ours should be too. We feel the same way. We should be two games better and atop of the league.

“I think we all know as a group the challenges that both of these teams are going to present here.”

Freshman guard Jelani Simmons said his team has to have consistent practices, work hard every day and pay attention to their coaching staff.

YSU has to be aggressive. For Simmons it makes it easier for him to score and do other things on the floor.

This Penguins team has to play it’s best games this weekend and defend.

Somehow, YSU has to have consistency, not just for one game.

“It’s like we want it, but we’re not working hard enough to get it,” Simmons said.

That could change this weekend.