Penguins Travel to Buffalo for Test Against Canisius

Morgan Olson (Photo by Ron Stevens)
Morgan Olson (Photo by Ron Stevens)
Youngstown State at Canisius
Date & Time Saturday, Dec. 13, at 2 p.m.
Location Koessler Athletic Center (Buffalo, N.Y.)
Radio 1390 WNIO | iHeartRadio
Video Golden Griffins Broadcast Network
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Scouting Report

  • After a week-long break from game action for final exams, Youngstown State will head to Canisius on Saturday for a 7 p.m. contest at the Koessler Athletic Center. The game will be broadcast live on 1390 WNIO and iHeartRadio.
  • The Penguins are 7-0 for the first time as a Division I program after posting a 92-43 victory over Oberlin last Saturday. YSU's best start to a season was in 1978-79 when it won its first 17 games.
  • Four newcomers scored in double figures against Oberlin. Nikki Arbanas led the team with 13 points, 11 of which came during a 20-0 run that put YSU up 31-12 with 6:20 left in the first half.
  • YSU is one of 13 Division I women's basketball teams who remain undefeated.
  • YSU has won seven straight games for the first time since the 1998-99 season. The Penguins have posted six-game winning streaks in three straight seasons after not having from 2000-01 through 2011-12.
  • YSU picked up its seventh win last season on Jan. 16, its 16th game.
  • After playing six games over the final 16 days in November, the Penguins are in the midst of playing just two games in the first 16 days of December.

A Win Would...

  • Give YSU an 8-0 start for the first time since 1978-79.
  • Snap a five-game losing streak to Canisius and be YSU's first ever on the road against the Golden Griffins.
  • Be YSU's second over a team from the MAAC this season.
  • Be YSU's 18th win in the last 25 games dating back to last season.

On This Date

  • YSU is 5-2 all-time in games played on Dec. 13, which includes an 84-52 victory over Ohio Valley last year.
  • Five of the seven games on Dec. 13 have been played at home, and YSU is 4-1 in those contests. One of the road games was at Buffalo in 2009, and that resulted in a 92-38 loss to the Bulls.
  • YSU has averaged 85.2 points in its five wins and 45.5 points in its two losses on Dec. 13.

Scouting Canisius

  • Canisius has won four straight games by double digits to improve its record to 4-3. The Golden Griffins are 2-0 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference games, and they beat Binghamton 91-75 on Thursday night.
  • Canisius has four players averaging between 10.3 and 13.4 points, and its fifth starter averaged 7.4 points. The Golden Griffins rank in the top 20 nationally in 3-point field goal percentage at 41.4 percent.

Series with Canisius

  • Canisius has won five straight meetings with Youngstown State to take a 5-1 lead in the all-time series.
  • The Penguins won the first matchup 70-54 on Jan. 30, 1989, in Youngstown. Canisius beat YSU a month later and won two close games in 1990. The teams didn't play again until a home-and-home series in 2008-09 and 2009-10.
  • The Golden Griffins were picked to finish eighth in the MAAC Coaches Preseason Poll, and senior guard Kayla Hoohuli was named to the preseason All-MAAC Second Team.

Griffs Assistant Fleming is YSU Grad

  • Former Penguins forward Tara Fleming is in her ninth season serving as an assistant coach at Canisius. She played at Youngstown State from 2001-05 and was a student assistant for former Penguins head coach Tisha Hill in 2005-06. Fleming went to Canisius in 2006-07 is now the program's recruiting coordinator and the second-longest tenured assistant coach in the MAAC.
  • Fleming played in 107 games as a Penguin and started 41 games in her final two years. She ranks second in YSU's history with 126 career blocks.

Recapping Oberlin

  • Youngstown State scored 20 straight points in the first half and never looked back in a 92-43 win over Division II Oberlin last Saturday.
  • All 12 Penguins who dressed for the game scored, and eight players finished with at least seven points. Nikki Arbanas, who finished with a game-high 13, scored 11 points during that 20-0 run that put YSU ahead 31-12. The lead was at least 16 the rest of the game.
  • The Penguins trailed 12-11 after the first nine minutes of the contest. After Latisha Walker made a free throw with 11:01 to knot the game at a dozen, Arbanas drained 3-pointers on three of YSU's next four possessions.

Quick Notes

  • YSU had its eighth-largest margin of victory in program history in the 49-point win over Oberlin. It was the biggest win since a 58-point (106-48) victory over Chicago State on Jan. 5, 1998. The Penguins hadn't beaten a team by 40 since defeating Chicago State 90-49 on Feb. 17, 2000.
  • YSU had 51 bench points, the most in the Coach John Barnes era and 20 more than the previous high set YSU's previous game against Tennessee State.
  • YSU outscored the Yeowomen 52-12 in the paint. The Penguins scored 38 of those paint points in the second half.
  • The Penguins scored at least 50 points in a half for the first time since Nov. 25, 2013, at Miami (Ohio).
  • The Penguins shot 71 percent (22-for-31) in the second half. They started the game making five of their first 18 attempts, then proceeded to make 31-for-55 over the final 31 minutes.

Penguins Off To Best Start in 36 Years

  • Youngstown State is 7-0 for the first time as a Division I program and for just the second time in school history. The 1978-79 team started the season by winning its first 17 contests. As of Dec. 11, YSU was one of 15 remaining undefeated teams in the country.
  • The start to 2014-15 has gone supremely better for YSU than the start to 2013-14, which was Coach John Barnes' first season. The Penguins have already posted four more Division I non-conference wins that they had last year, and they're outscoring opponents by an average of 19.9 points in the process. YSU had a 1-6 record through seven games in 2013-14.
  • The Penguins ended up hitting their stride at the start of Horizon League play last year when they won their first six conference games. From the start of league play last year to the present, YSU is 18-7 over its last 25 games.

Winning With Defense

  • A big reason for Youngstown State's 7-0 start has been its defense. The Penguins are holding teams to an average of 52.4 points per game on 33.3 percent shooting. YSU leads the Horizon League in both categories, and it ranks 15th in the country in scoring defense and 19th in field-goal percentagel defense.
  • YSU has held five of its first seven opponents to fewer than 55 points, and each of the last six opponents have shot lower than 38 percent from the field. Last season, YSU held just three opponents under 55 points.
  • The Penguins are 15-2 under Coach John Barnes when holding teams under 38 percent, and they are 20-3 when allowing fewer than 70 points.

Grabbing and Holding Leads

  • Youngstown State has been in control for most of its first seven games as it has started 7-0. The Penguins have led for 239 minutes and 41 seconds of the first 280 minutes of the season, or 85.6 percent of the time. They have been ahead by double digits for 124:59, or 44.6 percent. YSU has trailed for just 19:16, or 6.9 percent of the time.

Balanced Scoring Prevalent Early

  • YSU has been very balanced in the scoring column in its first seven games this year.
  • Four players have led the Penguins in scoring in their first seven games. Heidi Schlegel has been the top scorer four times, Nikki Arbanas has been the leader twice and Indiya Benjamin and Latisha Walker have both been the top scorer once (ties included).
  • All five of YSU's starters have reached double figures at least once, and four reserves have also scored more than 10 points. That means nine of YSU's 13 players have reached double figures in the first six games of the season.

Freshman Guards Shining

  • Freshman starting guards Nikki Arbanas and Indiya Benjamin have been in the spotlight in the first six games of their careers, and both have been named the Horizon League Freshman of the Week.
  • Arbanas scored 25 points while making 8-of-9 of her field goal attempts in her debut against Niagara on Nov. 15 to earn the league's freshman-of-the-week nod. She added a team-high 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting against Oberlin on Dec. 6. For the year, Arbanas is averaging 9.7 points and 2.4 assists while shooting 51.3 percent from the field. She also usually guards the opposing team's best guard.
  • Benjamin was the first Penguin in 13 years (Jen Perugini) to score in double figures in the first four games of her freshman year. She is averaging 10.3 points and 4.0 assists while leading the team with 13 3-pointers. She was named the Horizon League Freshman of the Week on Dec. 1 after leading YSU to three wins the previous week.

Program on the Rise

  • YSU has been on a definite upward trend over the last three years. The Penguins have finished in the top three in the Horizon League and advanced to the semifinals of the conference tournament in back-to-back seasons.
  • Last year, YSU finished with its second-best record since joining the Horizon League in 2001-02 at 10-6. The Penguins' 21 league wins over the past two years is almost as much as their combined 22 league wins over the previous six years combined.
  • In 2012-13, YSU had its best record to date in the Horizon League by finishing 11-5. The Penguins finished second in the conference and advanced to the tournament semifinals for the first time. YSU also earned the league's automatic bid to the WNIT.

Pounding the Glass

  • YSU has won the rebounding battle in six of its seven games this season and is plus-7.9 in rebounding margin for the year. That leads the Horizon League, ranks 33rd in the country and is the second-best mark in school history.
  • The Penguins have outrebounded three straight opponents by double digits (Nicholls State by 12, Tennessee State by 14 and Oberlin by 17). They had not won the rebounding battle by double digits in back-to-back games since Jan. 28 and Feb. 2, 2006 – a span of 254 games. The only time YSU has been outrebounded this year was by one at Kent State.
  • YSU is 18-6 when outrebounding an opponent in the John Barnes era. The Penguins have won the rebounding battle 24 times in 38 games under Barnes. They won the rebounding battle 22 times in the three years combined (91 games) prior to his arrival.

Offense has Flourished Under Barnes

  • Statistically, Youngstown State's offense last season was the program's best in at least a decade. Among the highlights, YSU's 70.3 points per game scoring average was the best since 1999-00, and the .404 shooting percentage was the best since 2001-02. After a rough five-game November where YSU shot 33 percent and averaged 59.4 points, it shot 41.9 percent while averaging 72.4 points over the season's final four months.
  • This season could be even better this season based on early results. YSU is averaging 72.3 points per game, and it is averaging an efficient 1.05 points per possession. The Penguins ahve also improved their shooting percentage and 3-point percentage to 44.9 percent and 39.6 percent, respectively. The last time YSU had a better overall shooting percentage was 1997-98 (45.1 percent), and the Penguins have never shot better than 37.8 percent from distance.

3-Pointers are Integral Part of Offense

  • YSU has made at least 200 3-pointers in four straight seasons, including 234 last season. Prior to the last four seasons, the highest season total was 199. YSU is one of just 22 programs in the country to have made at least 200 in each of the last four seasons.
  • The Penguins shot 34.1 percent from beyond the arc last season, which was their best percentage since the 2004-05 season. They are shooting 39.6 percent from distance this season while averaging 7.9 triples per game, which is a better pace than last year.
  • YSU was really zoned in from distance in league play last year. The Guins led the conference during league play with 9.1 3-pointers per game while shooting 38.7 percent.

Schlegel Returns After Breakout Season

  • After a breakout junior season, senior Heidi Schlegel has been named Preseason First-Team All-Horizon League in the conference poll and by College Sports Madness.
  • Schlegel averaged 20 points and 8.0 rebounds to earn First-Team All-Horizon League honors in 2013-14. She surpassed 1,000 career points last year, and she set new school records with 192 free throws made and 238 free throws attempted. Her 19 20-point games were the most by a Penguin in 26 years, and the 621 points she scored were the most ever by a junior and the fifth-most in school history regardless of class.
  • With YSU's more-balanced attack, Schlegel is averaging 14.4 points and 10.4 rebounds over the first seven games of 2014-15. As the focal point of other teams' defensive game plans, she is averaging 2.4 assists, an upgrade from the 1.7 she averaged last year.

Walker: The Blocker

  • Senior forward Latisha Walker has become known as one of the top blockers in the Horizon League. Through seven games, she ranks second in the conference with 14 blocks and 2.0 blocks per game. She averaged 1.1 blocks per game last year.
  • At Radford on Nov. 22, Walker blocked six shots, which is tied for the fourth-most in a game in program history. She had five of those blocks in the first nine minutes of the contest. Walker then blocked five shots two games later against Nicholls State.
  • Before Walker's performance at Radford, the last Penguin to block at least five shots was Nikita LaFleur on Feb. 3, 2007. The last player to block at least six shots in a game was Tara Fleming at Xavier on Dec. 31, 2004. Walker had five blocks twice in a three-game span after no Penguin had blocked five shots in a span of 223 games.