Youngstown – The Youngstown State men's basketball team begins its 80th season of basketball competition against Sweet 16 participant Xavier on Friday evening at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on 570 WKBN AM and Fox Sports Ohio.
• Youngstown State and Xavier are meeting for just the fourth time in history and the first time in 60 years. Xavier owns a 3-0 advantage in the all-time series.
• The Penguins return 10 letterwinners and four starters from last season's 11-19 team.
• Youngstown State returns 87.6 percent of its scoring, 84.3 percent of its rebounding and 99.4 percent of its 3-point scoring.
• The Penguins top four scorers return from last season - senior Kelvin Bright (11.4 ppg), senior DeAndre Mays (10.7 ppg), junior Vytas Sulskis (10.3 ppg) and senior Sirlester Martin (9.6 ppg) - and their top rebounder - Martin (7.3 rpg). Martin also ranked second in the Horizon League in rebounds per game.
• Youngstown State Head Coach Jerry Slocum is one of 16 active coaches with more than 600 career victories. He currently ranks seventh among active Division I coaches with 621 career wins.
• The Penguins were predicted to finish seventh in the Horizon League in the league's preseason poll, but picked to finish fifth by Basketball Times.
• Senior DeAndre Mays was named to the Horizon League All-Newcomer Team last season after averaging 10.7 points and 3.5 assists per game. He also ranked tied for fifth in the league in assists per game.
• Junior Vytas Sulskis has scored 579 career points and needs 421 more to become the 32nd player in school history to score 1,000 career points.
A Win Will
• Improve YSU to 1-0 overall.
• Mark YSU's first win over Xavier.
• Mark YSU's first win in the Cintas Center.
• Be YSU's first season-opening win since a 74-50 victory over Central Michigan on Nov. 8, 2006.
• Mark the Penguins' first season-opening win on an opponent's court since a 64-63 win at Saint Francis (Pa.) on Nov. 18, 2000.
• Mark Head Coach Jerry Slocum's 622nd career victory and his 42nd at Youngstown State.
• YSU's 976th victory in the program's history.
Xavier, the defending Atlantic-10 champion, returns eight letterwinners and two starters from last season's 27-8 squad that reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Senior Jason Love is the Musketeers top returning scorer with 6.7 points per game. Junior guard Dante' Jackson is the other returning starter and averaged 6.6 points per game last season. Sophomore Jordan Crawford, a transfer from Indiana, is eligible this season.
Youngstown State and Xavier are connected through the Musketeers sophomore center Kenny Frease. Frease's mother, Margaret (Porter), played women's basketball at Youngstown State from 1981-85.
Slocum In Select Company
Youngstown State Head Coach Jerry Slocum is in some pretty elite company. Slocum, who has 621 career wins, is one of eight active Division I head coaches with more than 600 career victories and ranks seventh among that group.
Mays Named to All-Newcomer Team
Senior DeAndre Mays became the third Youngstown State player in four years to be named to the Horizon League All-Newcomer Team. Mays, a native of Dallas, Texas, is averaged 10.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. His 3.5 assists per game ranked tied for fifth in the Horizon League while 10.7 points per game ranked 20th. He also averaged 11.4 points per game against Horizon League opponents. The other two Penguins named to the Horizon League All-Newcomer Team under Head Coach Jerry Slocum were Vytas Sulskis (2007-08) and Keston Roberts (2005-06).
Sulskis Closing In on 1,000
Junior Vytas Sulskis is inching his way toward becoming the 32nd player in school history to score 1,000 career points. Sulskis, who has scored 579 points in his first two campaigns, needs 421 more to reach 1,000.
Martin Cleaned the Glass
Last season, senior Sirlester Martin was a dominant force on the boards. The 6-foot-7 forward lead the Penguins and ranked second in the league with 7.3 rebounds per game. He posted four double-doubles and recorded 10-or-more rebounds six times.
A Bright Idea
Senior Kelvin Bright turned in a solid first season with the Penguins last year. The Silver Spring, Md., native lead the Guins and ranked 16th in the Horizon League with 11.4 points per game. He scored in double figures a team-best 17 times, including a career-high 27 against Butler on Dec. 6, 2008. He was also named the Horizon League Player of the Week on Jan. 12, 2009, after averaging 45 points in two games against UIC (23 points) and Loyola (22) on Jan. 8 and Jan. 10, respectively.
Youngstown State senior Dallas Blocker is back in the lineup after battling cancer at the end of last season and this past summer. Blocker, who averaged 4.4 points and 3.1 rebounds per game, was diagnosed with cancer on Feb. 12 and missed the Penguins' last seven games. After two surgeries and chemotherapy, Blocker was given a clean bill of health on Sept. 11.
Youngstown State has put together pretty rugged schedule for itself iin 2009-10. The Penguins are taking on five teams that made the 2009 NCAA Tournament, three opponents that finished in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 poll and seven teams that won at least 20 games last season.
Sulskis Closed Out Strong
Junior Vytas Sulskis finished the 2008-09 campaign on a high note. Over the last 10 games of the season, Sulskis averaged 12.7 points per game and scoring in double figures in eight of those contests.
Saturday In the Parks
Junior Tom Parks took full advantage of his opportunity for more playing time. The Cheyenne, Wyo., native averaged 7.5 points per game over the last 14 games of the year scoring a total of 105 points. In his first 11 appearances, he scored a total of 12 points. Parks also shot 40.3 percent from behind the 3-point line, including 45.7 percent against Horizon League opponents.
Cooksey is Charitable
Over the course of his 59-game career, Vance Cooksey has been the Penguins' best free-throw shooter. Last season, he led the team with a .760 free-throw percentage (38-of-50). During his freshman campaign, Cooksey owned an impressive free-throw percentage of .797 (55-of-69). His current career free-throw percentage is .782 and ranks tied for ninth all-time.
Mays Comin' To Play
Over the last seven games of last season, senior DeAndre Mays was impressive. Mays averaged 11 points, 3.4 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game game. Against Green Bay on Feb. 12, Mays lit up the Phoenix for a game-high 21 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the field. He also made 10-of-14 shots from the free-throw line. The Dallas, Texas, native poured in 15 points in the 70-68 win over Milwaukee on Feb. 14. He scored 13 points against Saint Peter's on Feb. 21.
Just a Walk in the Park
Junior Tom Parks became the Penguins' top 3-point threat in the second half of last season. Parks, who made just three 3-pointers in his first 11 games, made 28 treys over the last 14 games. Twice he made five 3-pointers in a game - both times against UIC on Feb. 7 and March 3.
Sulskis Climbin' 3-Point Chart
Junior Vytas Sulskis is quickly moving his way up the YSU all-time 3-pointers made list. With 39 3-pointers last season and 46 during his freshman campaign, Sulskis has a total of 87 career 3-pointers made, which is tied for 10th all-time.
Guins Ink Kendrick Perry During Early Signing Period
Youngstown State signed Kendrick Perry, a 6-foot point guard, to a National Letter-of-Intent during the early signing period. Perry, who hails from Orlando, Fla., was a preseason first-team all-conference and all-district selection. Over the summer, he led his AAU team to a third-place finish at the national tournament.