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Penguins start Horizon schedule

Youngstown State University men’s basketball coach Jerrod Calhoun hopes to see his players — now healthy — remain focused on themselves going forward.

Calhoun is emphasizing icing, stretching, stem treatments. Hydration is a key for the Penguins as well.

Practice times have been limited due to two shutdowns as a result of positive COVID-19 results. Scrimmages were non-existent as was summer work.

“Each day is a win for us anytime we’re on the court together,” Calhoun said.

YSU (3-0) begins league play today against Northern Kentucky and faces the Norse again Sunday. Both games are scheduled at BB&T Arena in Highland Heights, Ky. Today’s game starts at 2 p.m., while Sunday’s game is at 3.

Calhoun said both teams passed this week’s COVID-19 tests and are good to go for the weekend.

“The games are going to happen,” he said.

NKU is a difficult matchup for the Penguins, sweeping YSU last season. Teams struggle to score against the Norse (2-3) with their match-up zone.

“It can cause a lot of indecision for the offense,” Calhoun said. “You can be very stagnant. You can be forced to take bad shots. It’s not something you see on a weekly basis.

“I think that’s why it’s really good. Their staff has done a tremendous job of getting their kids buying into it and really learning it and making it difficult for opponents.”

A neutralizer for the Penguins is 6-foot-6 senior Naz Bohannon, who leads YSU with per game averages of 22.5 points and eight rebounds.

“He’s always been really good against the zone,” Calhoun said. “He gives you another guy that can do multiple things, especially in transition. He has the ability to lead the break. Not too many programs have that.

“People talk about that lack of size that we have. In this generation, the way the game is played, Naz is a tremendous player. We bring some great size off the bench with Cheick (Traore) and Will (Dunn), certainly those kids are freshmen, but they’re 6-8, 6-9, have length and strength to them.”

Sunday’s game is on ESPN2, a great way for YSU to showcase its team and show the growth of the Penguins.

“I think our guys are excited about that, playing in front of a national audience,” Calhoun said. “It is one of only six games contracted by the Horizon League. I think there’s a lot of excitement heading into this weekend.”

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