YSU basketball program shines spotlight on itself - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

YSU basketball program shines spotlight on itself

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

A new coach always brings a little bit of a buzz from the fans, but for Youngstown State basketball that new coach is trying to extend that buzz to reel in new fans and put his team on the map.

The videos and pictures have been popping up for months: players working out, practice clips online. YSU's basketball is suddenly a lot more visible, even before the season tips off. It's all part of the plan for new head coach Jerrod Calhoun.

"I think fans want access. I think fans want to see what's going on with your program," said Calhoun.

So Calhoun is giving them a look. Every Monday, he holds a meeting to try and to map out ways to feature the Penguins on social media. Part basketball coach, and part salesman for the type of program he's trying to build.

"I think the great programs are always thinking ahead, always thinking on how we can be different," said Calhoun. "I'm one to share things. I think a lot of the people around the country try to keep things really, really secretive within their program. We're trying to get exposure to our program. We want fans in this building, so we've got to generate as much excitement as we possibly can, and I think social media gives us that great opportunity."

The players say they've noticed the difference. Fans are coming up to them at the mall, saying how much they're looking forward to the season. It's something they say hasn't happened to them in the past.

"One of the first things I told Coach Calhoun when he called me after he got the job is, we don't really have a crowd or an atmosphere," said senior Francisco Santiago. "I feel like that helps, especially in close games. We were in a lot of close game here. I feel like the crowd can really be a big part of that."

In the end, they all realize the wins are more important than the number of Twitter followers, but they're hoping social media attracts new fans who can come out and see what this team can really do.

"He wants us to throw lobs, wants us to dunk, wants to get out, get the crowd involved, get the bench involved. It's going to draw a lot of fans to come to the games," said Santiago.

So if you Tweet it, they will come. Certainly a new era for YSU hoops.

The Penguins tip off the season Saturday night at 9 pm against Kent State in Akron.

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