Game #9-464: Youngstown State Penguins at Wright State RaidersMarch 8, 2013 6:00 pm
Ervin J. Nutter Center
Last year at the Horizon League quarterfinals, also held in Valparaiso at the Athletics Recreation Center (ARC), 3 seed Detroit ambushed
6 seed Youngstown State from the opening tip, and the Penguins never seriously threatened. 5 seed Butler buried
4 seed Milwaukee decisively in the 2nd half. In both cases, the end of the game may have brought relief, but no pain.
Tonight, the script was completely different, and both games ended with pain and regret. In the case of the 2nd game, there may have been a few skipped heartbeats thrown in for free.
On the other hand, certain things remained the same. 5 seed UIC was the only team to have serious student support beyond pep band and cheerleaders, though this year they seemed to be the only school that brought any students at all. The Wright State and Youngstown State student sections were completely empty except for pep band, cheerleaders, and mascot (in YSU's case, mascots - yes, ladies and gentlemen, the YSU team is rooted on by a Mr. and Mrs. Penguin). The upper Mezzanine was completely empty, unlike last year.
So, we have two exciting games which replaced two boring games, and to go along with it, less of a crowd (1155 this year, 2249 last year).
That said, everyone agreed that the pep bands were outstanding. In the first game, Wright State's pep band was my choice for winner of battle of the bands. Every time a YSU player shot free throws, they parodied the lyric
"We're not gonna take it, ya know we're not gonna take it. We're not gonna take it ... anymore!" ("You're not gonna make it, ya know you're not gonna make it. You're not gonna make it, anymore!") At least this was a taunt I could understand. Stay tuned for a more creative pep band whose taunts I couldn't make out.
Also, while the Wright State student section was otherwise empty, the section behind the WSU bench was at least half full and possibly more. This was not surprising to me. I've been to a few WSU-Valpo games at the ARC and their fans do travel well.
Last year, Detroit ambushed YSU in the quarterfinal game. The Penguins were done almost from the opening tip. This time (once again as the 6 seed), they were the ones to get off to a fast start, jumping out to a 7-2 lead, only to see 3 seed Wright State recover to make it 11-10 at the 2nd media timeout. YSU mostly had their way on the offensive end, except for one stellar defensive showing that led to a shot-clock violation. WSU took a while to get going on offense, but they finally hit a couple of 3s.
For WSU, as usual, it was a team effort. They struggled from the outset, but kept their nose to the grindstone and eventually grabbed control of the game. A couple of times I thought this was going to turn into another blowout like last year, but to their credit, YSU stayed in the game the whole way. They actually fought back from an 18 point deficit early in the 2nd half to make it a very close game. They just couldn't get over the hump.
The problem was that in the first half, there were too many times when the Penguins were trying to force one-on-one drives that weren't there. They looked out of sync after the initial burst. Out of sync offenses are child's play for the Wright State defense this year. They forced 3 shot-clock violations, two in the first half, and almost forced a 4th. I'm not sure what happened in the 2nd half, but for a big stretch, YSU was constantly driving the lane and drawing fouls. What was closed off to them in the first half had opened up. Media observers attributed all of this to Kendrick Perry, who played for the first time in 4 games. Apparently he moved better in the 2nd half, which would indicate he was still rusty in the first half. That's as good an explanation as any. I wish I had been more observant to give my own impression, but I definitely noticed the difference in the YSU team in the 2nd half. They gave WSU quite a game. By the way, Wright State had their own injury list to deal with. Cole Darling did not dress for this game, and he has been a starter for them most of the season.
But YSU was not good enough to overcome one of the more disciplined teams in the Horizon League this year. Miles Dixon always found a way to score when they needed a basket. Reggie Arceneaux contributed off the bench. I had anticipated back in January that he would turn out to be a star on this team after he hit a buzzer beater at the Gentile Center, but somehow he got demoted from the starting lineup. AJ Pacher, Tavarez Sledge, and even newcomer JT Yoho made significant contributions. Most importantly, they always looked like a team instead of a collection of individuals.
In an example of bad karma - if you believe in that kind of thing - yesterday's Youngstown Vindicator carried a story
which tried to make the case for YSU getting an invite to a post-season tournament (think CBI or CIT). As it happens, this does represent a step up for Youngstown State. For the first time in a long time, they have a 17-win season on their resume, and they can begin to anticipate invites even to lesser tournaments. That they were thinking at all about that prior to being eliminated from the Horizon League tournament and therefore the NCAA tournament does seem like misplaced priorities, but in their defense, it is extremely hard to expect a bid to the Big Dance when you've been so far removed from contention for so many years. I'm inclined to give them a pass on this. It does indicate how far they still have to go.
at WRIGHT STATE 66, YOUNGSTOWN STATE 59
YOUNGSTOWN STATE 17-15 (7-9) -- R. White 6-10 3-4 19; B. Allen 3-11 0-0 6; K. Belin 7-12 2-3 20; D. Cole 3-9 0-0 6; D. Eargle 5-13 3-6 13; K. Perry 4-7 2-4 11; S. Amiker 0-2 0-2 0; R. Weber 0-1 0-0 0; B. Hain 1-1 1-1 3. Totals 23-56 8-16 59.
WRIGHT STATE 20-11 (10-6) -- J. Young 3-6 7-11 13; R. Arceneaux 4-8 0-0 11; K. Griffin 0-4 1-2 1; A. Pacher 5-9 2-2 13; M. Dixon 6-10 0-1 14; J. Bramanti 1-1 2-2 4; J. Yoho 3-5 1-1 8; T. Sledge 0-2 0-0 0; M. Vest 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 23-47 13-19 66.
Three-point goals: YSU 5-19 (B. Allen 0-8; K. Perry 1-1; D. Cole 0-2; K. Belin 4-7; R. Weber 0-1), WRIG 7-13 (M. Dixon 2-2; A. Pacher 1-2; R. Arceneaux 3-4; K. Griffin 0-4; J. Yoho 1-1); Rebounds: YSU 29 (D. Eargle 8), WRIG 27 (K. Griffin 7); Assists: YSU 8 (D. Cole 5), WRIG 12 (J. Young 4); Total Fouls -- YSU 18, WRIG 15; Fouled Out: YSU-None; WRIG-None.