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More depth for YSU women

YOUNGSTOWN — The Youngstown State women’s basketball team returns after last year’s 22-win season and WNIT berth.

However, the Penguins have to overcome the losses of Lordstown native Sarah Cash, Alison Smolinski, the team’s leading 3-point scorer, and Melinda Trimmer — all key components to last year’s success.

“It’s going be a process to see who we are, team chemistry, lineups, who plays well together,” YSU coach John Barnes said. “It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of games to figure that out.

“There’s only so much you can figure out in practice. Once we start playing games, that’ll start to fall into place a little quicker. Hopefully we’re hitting our stride and playing our best basketball once conference hits.”

It starts tonight as YSU host Canisius in the season opener at the Beeghly Center, starting at 5:15 p.m.

Last year’s team boasted a nine-player active roster. This year, it is up to 12 active players with four players coming back who had to sit out either because of NCAA transfers or redshirted because of injuries.

The front court has capable players, led by first-team, all-Horizon League player Mary Dunn, the team’s only senior. The 6-foot-3 Dunn is the go-to force down by the basket.

Emma VanZanten, a 6-4 post from Western Michigan, is going to give the Penguins a 1-2 punch this year on the post.

Freshman Jen Wendler (6-2) is looking to add some of her expertise, while junior McKenah Peters plans to play some post as well with 6-1 sophomore Amara Chickwe

“We’ve been working on that a lot since summer,” Barnes said of the team’s post play. “That hasn’t changed a whole lot.”

Junior Ny’Dajah Jackson, who played at Providence, comes in the backcourt, while redshirt Gabby Lupardus and Taylor Petit are coming off injuries. All three and VanZanten sat out last year.

Mady Aulbach, Quinece Hatcher, Maddie Schires, Lexi Wagner and Wendler are the team’s freshmen.

Junior Chelsea Olson, like Dunn, was part of the preseason Horizon League team.

Add to that sophomore Deleah Gibson in the backcourt.

New faces, but it’ll take time for the chemistry and execution to come together.

“If we can figure out how to get the little things done on a daily basis, things usually fall in place,” Barnes said.

It’ll be interesting to see how things come together for YSU.

“We lost a really good top end of our team, but we didn’t have a lot of depth last year,” Barnes said. “This year we have a lot more depth. It’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out throughout the year.”

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