Women's Basketball Hosts VCU Saturday in 2013-14 Opener

Women's Basketball Hosts VCU Saturday in 2013-14 Opener

The Youngstown State women's basketball team will try to build on its most successful season in 13 years when it opens the 2013-14 season and the John Barnes era at Beeghly Center on Saturday at 2:05 p.m. against VCU. Live audio will be available on 570 WKBN and iHeartRadio, and video will be streamed on the Horizon League Network.

The Penguins finished with a 23-10 record last season while placing second in the Horizon League and advancing to the second round of the WNIT. Barnes was hired as the seventh head coach in school history as a replacement for Bob Boldon, who left YSU for a rebuilding effort at Ohio. Barnes's task will be to build on last season and advance the program to the success it enjoyed as a mid-major powerhouse in the 1990s.

There are four returning starters and nine returning letterwinners from last year's squad on the 2013-14 team. Even with the graduation of Horizon League Player of the Year Brandi Brown, the Penguins return 92.9 percent of their assists and more than 68 percent their its points and rebounds from last year. No team in the conference returns a greater percentage of its minutes and assists, and the Guins rank fifth in percentage of points and rebounds returning.

VCU finished 11-19 last season, which included a 58-45 loss to Youngstown State in the first meeting between the schools. Robyn Parks led the Atlantic 10 in scoring last season, and Jessica Pellechio ranked 15th in the country in 3-pointers per game.

Youngstown State will continue its three-game home stand to start the season against Buffalo on Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 7:05 p.m.

Tickets and Promotions

Tickets are available for purchase at YSUsports.com, at the Stambaugh Stadium Ticket Office on Friday until 5 p.m. and at the Beeghly Center Ticket Office starting at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Gates will open at 1 p.m., and fans will receive a YSU women's basketball schedule magnet, courtesy of WKBN 27 First News, Coca-Cola and State Farm.

Top Storylines

  • This will be the 39th season of women's basketball at Youngstown State.
  • The Penguins will open the season at Beeghly Center for the first time since 2006-07. YSU's last win in a season opener at Beeghly Center was Nov. 22, 2003, which was Tisha Hill's debut as Youngstown State's head coach.
  • YSU has a season opener at Beeghly Center against a school outside of Ohio for the first time since 1995-96.
  • @CoachJohnBarnes will be making his debut as a Division I head coach. All four of YSU's coaches hired during the school's Division I era (Hill, Cindy Martin, Bob Boldon, Barnes), were D-I coaches for the first time.
  • Youngstown State went 23-10 last season, its best record since 1997-98. The Penguins finished second in the Horizon League, played in the conference tournament semifinals and won a game in the WNIT.
  • The Penguins return 92.9 percent of their assists and more than 68 percent of their points and rebounds from last year
  • The four-member senior class is the largest for YSU since the 2008-09 squad had six.

Scouting VCU

  • VCU is coming off an 11-19 season that included a 4-10 mark in Atlantic 10 play. It was the first season under head coach Marlene Stollings.
  • The Rams were picked to finish seventh in the A-10 preseason poll, and two players earned individual preseason honors. Robyn Parks, the league's top scorer last season, was named preseason first team and to the all-defensive team. Three-point threat Jessica Pellechio was a third-team honoree.

Last Time vs. VCU

  • Brandi Brown scored 28 points, and YSU held VCU to 18 second-half points in a 58-43 win on Jan. 4, 2013, at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
  • YSU scored the first 13 points of the game, but VCU fought back and had its only lead of the contest at 27-26 with 21 seconds left in the first half. YSU's Karen Flagg hit a bucket just before the buzzer to put the Penguins up at the break, and they led the entire second half.
  • Brown scored 18 of her points in the first half and finished 13-of-20 from the field. She added 10 rebounds for her ninth double-double.

Series with VCU

  • Youngstown State beat VCU 58-45 on Jan. 4, 2013, in the only meeting between the two schools. The Penguins are 12-8 versus teams currently in the Atlantic 10.

Barnes Hopes to Continue Growth of Program

  • John Barnes is in his first season at the helm of the Youngstown State Women's Basketball program. He takes over for Bob Boldon, who moved on to take a rebuilding project as the head coach at Ohio.
  • @CoachJohnBarnes is a Division I head coach for the first time in his career, but he's no stranger to leading winning programs. He was the head coach at Michigan Tech, one of the top Division II programs in the country, for seven seasons from 2003-10 and assembled a record of 156-55. Barnes's teams have won nearly 73 percent of the games he's coached in as a head coach or an assistant.
  • Barnes is the seventh head coach in school history. He is the first to inherit the reins of the program when it is coming off a winning season.

Coaches in Debuts

  • Barnes will try to be the third head coach at Youngstown State to win their first game. Interestingly, YSU's previous three male head coaches are lost their coaching debuts. Female head coaches at YSU are 2-1 in their debuts.
  • Wins: Joyce Ramsey — Beat Oberlin 67-34 on Jan. 10, 1976; Tisha Hill — Beat Bowling Green 79-67 on Nov. 22, 2003
  • Losses: Jeff Cohen — Lost 75-42 to Arizona on Nov. 26, 1982.; Ed DiGregorio — Lost 86-81 to Cleveland State on Nov. 25, 1983; Cindy Martin — Lost 95-58 to Kent State on Nov. 15, 2008; Bob Boldon — Lost 7-58 to Pittsburgh on Nov. 12, 2010

Coming Off Best Season Since 1997-98

  • Youngstown State's 23-10 record in 2012-13 was its best since the 1997-98 squad went 28-3. The Penguins played in their first postseason tournament since 1999-2000, and their 63-51 win over Indiana State in the first round of the WNIT was their first postseason victory since upsetting Memphis the 1998 NCAA Tournament.
  • YSU advanced to the semifinals of the Horizon League Tournament for the first time since joining the conference in 2001-02.
  • Additionally, YSU set school records for Horizon League victories (11) and home victories (14), and it tied the school record for non-conference wins (10).

YSU Picked Third in Horizon League Preseason Poll

  • Youngstown State's third-place ranking in the Horizon League preseason poll is its best preseason ranking since joining the conference for the 2001-02 season.
  • The Penguins, coming off a second-place finish in the league last year, received 165 points in the poll to finish behind preseason favorite Green Bay (225 points) and Wright State (189).
  • Additionally, Shar'Rae Davis and Heidi Schlegel were voted Preseason Second-Team All-Horizon League.

Expect a Different Offense

  • Youngstown State's offense will be pretty different in 2013-14 when compared to the last three seasons. The Penguins played a five-out motion offense under Boldon that resulted in school-record-breaking 3-point attempts and makes.
  • Barnes will employ a more conventional offense that features either one or two posts around the paint, but he's emphasized the 3-pointers will still be frequent. His teams at Michigan Tech regularly placed among the top in the conference in 3-pointers made and 3-point percentage.

Commitment To Defense

  • Coach John Barnes was an all-defensive team selection as a player, and he wants his Penguins team to have tenacity and a commitment to team defense.
  • The Penguins held opponents to 57.8 points per game last season, which was the best scoring defense by YSU since 1978-79. The 57.8 points allowed were 9.7 points fewer than in 2011-12, an improvement that ranked 12th-best in the country. Opponents were also held to 27.7 percent from 3-point range, which was less than one percent shy of a school record.

Life After Brown - What Returns

  • Youngstown State will obviously miss Horizon League Player of the Year Brandi Brown, who graduated in May and is playing professionally in Sweden. But the Penguins certainly have plenty of talent remaining to compete among the top teams in the conference.
  • YSU returns nine letterwinners, 92.9 percent of its assists and more than 68 percent of its points and rebounds from last year. No team in the conference returns a greater percentage of its minutes and assists, and the Guins rank fifth in percentage of points and rebounds returning.

Horizon League Could Be Wide Open

  • The Horizon League race could be wide open in 2013-14 with defending conference champion Green Bay losing four starters and nearly 75 percent of its scoring from last season.
  • Additionally, regular season runner-up YSU has to overcome the loss of league player-of-the-year Brandi Brown. Tournament runner-up Loyola is now in the Missouri Valley Conference, and Detroit, the only other team to finish with a winning record, lost more than 70 percent of its scoring.