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Youngstown State - Women's Basketball
Youngstown State - Women's Basketball

YSU Women's Basketball Camps

Coaching Staff

Andy Crane
Assistant Coach

Andy Crane serves as the recruiting coordinator and an assistant coach for the Youngstown State women's basketball program under Head Coach John Barnes. He enters his third year as a Penguin in 2015-16.

Crane’s recruiting efforts have helped the Penguins assemble a very talented group of underclassmen, which gives the coaching staff confidence that YSU will continue to compete for the top spot in the Horizon League.

The 2015 class was ranked as one of the top 25 percent in the country on signing day, and three of the four freshmen on the 2015-16 team were named First-Team All-Ohio after their senior years. Melinda Trimmer was named the Co-Player of the Year at the Division II level, and Alison Smolinski and Jill Blacksten were first-team all-state selections at the Division I and Division IV levels, respectively.

The 2014 class featured Michigan Player of the Year Kelley Wright and first-team all-state honorees Nikki Arbanas and Indiya Benjamin. Arbanas and Benjamin started every game for the Penguins as freshmen, and they both broke the previous school record for 3-pointers by a freshman. Further, YSU set team records for fewest turnovers per game and best assist-to-turnover ratio with them as the starting backcourt.

In addition to Crane’s responsibilities as the recruiting coordinator, he oversees official and unofficial visits, assists in the development of YSU’s wings, scouts opponents and helps with game and practice preparation.

In his second year with program, the Penguins reached the WNIT for just the second time in the program's history. YSU won 21 games in 2014-15, posting 20-plus wins for the second time in the last three years. With seven true freshmen, the most in the Horizon League and in Ohio, the Penguins earned their 10th 20-win season in program history in 2014-15.

The Guins were 10-0 for the first time at the Division I level and for just the second time (1978-79) in school history to start a season before losing at Pittsburgh on Dec. 21. On the national level, Youngstown State ranked 13th in free-throw percentage and 22nd in 3-pointers per game. YSU advanced to the semifinals of the Horizon League Tournament and won at least nine conference games for the third straight season.

In the staff’s first season in 2013-14, the Penguins overachieved to finish third in the Horizon League and advance to the semifinals of the conference tournament. They matched their best start ever to a conference season with six straight victories, and they had their best offense in more than a decade. The team’s 70.3 points per game were the highest since 1999-2000, and they had their highest field goal percentage in 12 years.

Crane, like Barnes, came to Youngstown with a year of experience in the Horizon League to his credit. Crane was an assistant at Cleveland State in 2013-13, and he had five more seasons of collegiate coaching experience before coming to YSU. Additionally, he spent three years as a head coach at Team Wisconsin Select, a top AAU program.

In his lone year at Cleveland State, Crane coached the Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year and one of the top scorers in the country in Shalonda Winton. The Vikings beat Ole Miss and Indiana with Crane on the bench, earning their first win ever over an SEC opponent and their second victory over a Big Ten program.

Prior to his arrival at Cleveland State, Crane spent four seasons (2007-09 and 2010-12) as an assistant at the University of Dubuque in Iowa. The Spartans experienced new milestones under Crane, posting their best regular season finish in program history and their first Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament win. Crane successfully recruited to Dubuque six all-state players, six WBCA All Stars, two McDonald's All-America Nominees and a Minnesota Ms. Basketball finalist.

Crane coached the guards for three seasons at Dubuque and helped develop eight all-conference performers. One of those set the conference record for assists and ranked in the top 20 in NCAA Division III history in assists. He coached the post players in 2011-12 as Dubuque finished 15-10, its best regular season record in program history.

He coached at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa in 2009-10 and recruited the first NJCAA Pre-Season All-American in program history. He also brought in two all-region players, including the second-leading scorer in the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference.

In addition to his collegiate coaching, Crane spent three years as the head coach of Team Wisconsin Select, an elite AAU program that had a roster that included some of the top players in the 2013 and 2014 classes in Iowa and Wisconsin. He coached the club to championships at the 2011 USJN "Battle of the Programs" and the 2011 USJN Great American Showcase.

Crane also spent two years as a skill instructor under Mike Lee, who is regarded as one of the premier skill instructors in the country. In 2011-12, he was a lead evaluator and contributing writer for Midwest Recruiting Report in Chicago.

A native of Baraboo, Wis., Crane earned a bachelor's degree in psychology of coaching from Dubuque in 2009.


John Nicolais
Assistant Coach

John Nicolais is an assistant coach on the Youngstown State University women’s basketball staff under head coach John Barnes. He begins his third year as a Penguin in 2015-16.

At Youngstown State, Nicolais (pronounced NICK-oh-lay) is in charge of game scheduling, assisting with post player development, game preparation and opponent scouting. He also serves as a liaison to the strength and conditioning coach, and he oversees the male practice squad.

In his second year with program, the Penguins reached the WNIT for just the second time in the program's history. YSU won 21 games in 2014-15, posting 20-plus wins for the second time in the last three years. With seven true freshmen, the most in the Horizon League and in Ohio, the Penguins earned their 10th 20-win season in program history. The Guins were 10-0 for the first time at the Division I level and for just the second time (1978-79) in school history. YSU advanced to the semifinals of the Horizon League Tournament and won at least nine conference games for the third straight season.

Among the individual highlights, Nikki Arbanas set a YSU freshman record with 55 3-pointers in 2014-15. Indiya Benjamin was voted to the Horizon League All-Freshman Team, and senior Latisha Walker had the best year of her career. Most notably, Heidi Schlegel was named First-Team All-Horizon League for the second straight season. Schlegel finished her career with 1,729 points, the fourth-most in program history, and 796 rebounds, the seventh-most program history. She became YSU's all-time leader in career free throws made, and she signed a contract to play professionally in Germany.

In the staff’s first season in 2013-14, the Penguins overachieved to finish third in the Horizon League and advance to the semifinals of the conference tournament. They matched their best start ever to a conference season with six straight victories, and they had their best offense in more than a decade. The team’s 70.3 points per game were the highest since 1999-2000, and they had their highest field goal percentage in 12 years.

Among the individual highlights, forward Schlegel more-than-doubled her previous career high in scoring and earned First-Team All-Horizon League honors. She averaged 20 points and eight rebounds, set a new school record for made free throws and scored 621 points, the fifth-most for a season in school history. Liz Hornberger had her best season and averaged a Horizon League-leading 3.1 3-pointers per game during conference play. She made 80 3-pointers during the season and finished her career with a school-record 199 treys. Another 3-point specialist, Monica Touvelle, was named the Horizon League's Sixth Player of the Year, and guard Jenna Hirsch was named to the league's all-freshman team.

Nicolais came to Youngstown as a highly respected assistant at the Division II level over the previous 10 years. He helped Drury University to 101 wins over a five-year span, and he spent five years at Glenville State when the Lady Pioneers went 145-22. Nicolais' teams advanced to the NCAA Tournament nine times in his 10 seasons.

Nicolais was responsible for working with the Drury perimeter players and coached two All-American's and a squad that was consistently among the best in 3-point shooting percentage. Katie Pritchard led Division II in 3-point field goal percentage in 2009-10 and 2010-11, and teammate and All-American Lindsay Ballweg was second in the country in 3-point shooting in 2009-10.

Nicolais also helped with monitoring academic progress at Drury, and the Lady Panthers had the nation's top grade-point average in 2011-12 regardless of division with a 3.709. They had a 3.591 GPA in 2010-11, which was third in Division II.

Drury, located in Springfield, Mo., was 19-10 and went to the NCAA Tournament in Nicolais' first season on the bench in 2008-09. The Lady Panthers then went 28-7 while winning the Great Lakes Valley Conference and advanced to the Sweet 16 the following season. Drury won the GLVC West Division title and finished with 20 wins in each of the next two seasons. The Lady Panthers went 14-13 in 2012-13.

At Glenville State in West Virginia, Nicolais worked directly with two All-Americans and GSC's all-time leading scorer as the perimeter coach. The Lady Pioneers were 33-3 in 2006-07, 30-3 in 2005-06, 24-8 in 2004-05, and 29-4 in both 2003-04 and 2002-03. Glenville State went 84-6 in West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference contests in Nicolais' five years while winning conference championships in 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007.

Prior to joining Glenville State, Nicolais was an assistant coach at Gilmer County High School in Glenville, W.Va. His team in 2001 advanced to the state title game. Nicolais also served as head volleyball coach at Gilmer from 2000-03 with his 2003 squad winning the West Virginia Class A State Championship. For his efforts, he was recognized as the West Virginia Coaches Association Region II Coach of the Year.

Nicolais is a native of Elizabeth, W.Va. His wife Carrie, an occupational therapist, and he reside in Austintown, Ohio, with their daughter, Harper.


Sam Hoyt
Assistant Coach

Sam Hoyt is in her first season as an assistant women's basketball coach at Youngstown State. She joined the staff in May of 2015.

Hoyt previously served at YSU under head coach John Barnes in the 2013-14 season as a graduate assistant. She was an assistant coach at Division II Northwood University during 2014-15.

Hoyt is in charge of the development of the Penguins' point guards, and she assists on the court in opponent scouting and practice planning. She serves as the program's primary recruiter in Michigan, and she also oversees YSU's equipment and compliance needs. Additionally, Hoyt helps run the team's annual golf outing and summer camps.

In Hoyt's first stop at Youngstown State, the Penguins overachieved to finish third in the Horizon League and advance to the semifinals of the conference tournament. They matched their best start ever to a conference season with six straight victories, and they had their best offense in more than a decade. The team's 70.3 points per game were the highest since 1999-2000, and they had their highest field goal percentage in 12 years.

In her year at Northwood, Hoyt helped coach the Timberwolves to an 18-11 overall record and a 14-8 mark in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Northwood finished fourth in the regular season standings and tied a school record for most wins at the Division II level. Three Northwood student-athletes earned All-GLIAC honors, and Gabrielle Rivette was a first-team honoree as the conference's leader in 3-point shooting percentage.

Hoyt is a 2013 graduate of Michigan Tech where she was a three-year starter for the Huskies. She was recruited by and played her freshman year under Barnes, and she went on to have a highly successful career. She scored 1,434 points while leading Michigan Tech to a four-year record of 103-22. Hoyt was a First-Team Academic All-American as a senior and a Division II Honorable Mention All-American each of her last two seasons. Michigan Tech was the national runner-up with her as a starting guard as a sophomore.

Hoyt was a student assistant for Michigan Tech during the 2013 fall semester and worked basketball camps throughout her collegiate career.

In the classroom at Michigan Tech, Hoyt earned the Woman of Promise Award, which recognizes the achieving women at the university with promising futures. She made the Dean's list six times and received academic excellence awards from the mathematics department. Hoyt earned her bachelor's degree in math from Michigan Tech in 2013. She minored in economics with a concentration in secondary education and a coaching certificate.