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Youngstown State head women's basketball coach John Barnes and student-athletes representing the team answered questions about sustaining success and differences in personnel and philosophies at the program's annual media day on Tuesday at the Beeghly Center Coaches Court.
Barnes talked about new strategies that he is implementing on both offense and defense in his first year at the helm of the program. Offensively, Barnes said he's been working from day one on establishing a post presence from the five-out system that's been used the previous three seasons. Defensively, Barnes prefers an aggressive style where players stay with who they are guarding instead of switching on screens, which was the approach in previous seasons at YSU.
"I'm excited about the way we're progressing," Barnes said to the large group of reporters. "The team is working really hard and learning a lot. The upperclassmen have really taken it in stride and helped out the younger players."
Youngstown State has been among the top 3-point shooting teams in the country the past three seasons, and Barnes said that the team will not shy away from shots from the arc despite the new focus on post play.
"The closer the shots are, usually the percentages go up," he said. "But we're not throwing away the 3-pointer by any means. A lot of my teams throughout the past have led the conference in makes and 3-point field goal percentage. We still want to do those things, but we just want to start throwing it inside to our bigs and work from there."
Regarding expectations for 2013-14, Hornberger said, "I say first place every year, and I don't think it's ever going to change. I don't know where we're at now, but anything short of winning the Horizon League and going to the national tournament isn't good enough."
"I don't like to think about the past. It's important not to take a step back. We were second last year, and we need to be first this year," Touvelle said.
Several questions were asked about the differences between Barnes and Bob Boldon, who was the program's head coach the past three seasons.
"Everything has become more detailed at practice," Horberger said. "The little details are the things that win championships. Obviously we only got second place last year, and we want first place. Details are what we need to pay attention to."
"Coach Barnes is very consistent," Touvelle said. "You know what's coming. I know that's to take us to the next level. We were second last year, and I know to get us to first we're going to have to have that consistency and extra push from him."
Regarding the graduation of Horizon League Player of the Year Brandi Brown, all three said it's going to take the entire team stepping up to fill her shoes instead of one player moving into her role.
The Penguins have just over two weeks until they open the 2013-14 season against VCU at Beeghly Center on Nov. 9. That will be one of 17 home games on YSU's regular season schedule.