Touvelle starting to reach her stride for YSU

YOUNGSTOWN – Monica Touvelle listened to Monday’s press conference, prior to her turn to sit in front of the media microphones and assorted iPhone recorders.

Someone asked Youngstown State University women’s basketball coach John Barnes about Touvelle’s speed up the court, obviously asking a tongue-in-cheek query about a player returning from a foot injury.

She leads the team in 3-point shooting at 38.3 percent, which puts the onus on the defender to guard Touvelle.

“When you shoot it as well as she does, players really have to close out hard on her deceptively quick,” said Barnes, whose team is 9-9, 5-0 in the Horizon League and hosting Detroit (3-16, 0-6) on Wednesday.

“I had two steals last game,” Touvelle responded.

Her dogged determination up the court has earned some “respect” from her team.

“We’ve nicknamed her lightning as of late,” Barnes said.

“I’m not even upset they’re making fun of me. I’m just going to go with it,” Touvelle said.

Touvelle, a Boardman High School graduate, wasn’t moving all that well earlier this season when she suffered a fractured foot. It held her out of YSU’s first five games.

She spent about a month-and-a-half off her injured foot.

Since coming back, Touvelle has excelled – especially of late. The 5-foot-8 senior guard has scored nine points, shot 10 of 12 from the foul line and 37 percent from 3.

“They expect things from me. I think I’ve been delivering,” Touvelle said. “We have more room from improvement.”

Touvelle was recruited by former YSU coach Cindy Martin, whose team went 0-30 during Touvelle’s senior year at Boardman.

This year, YSU is leading the Horizon League.

Did Touvelle expect to be sitting in a news conference, talking about a first-place Penguins team that would be hosting Detroit?

“I guess I didn’t know what to expect,” Touvelle said. “When I was in high school, they were obviously struggling. I guess I didn’t think we would be No. 1.

“We are and I couldn’t be happier.”

YSU started the season 1-6 and has gone 8-3 in the past 11 games. The Penguins have finally warmed up to Barnes, the YSU first-year coach.

“We have to build a trust there,” Touvelle said. “I think we have it now. It’s kind of coincidental it happened right before league play. Whatever. That works.”

And, Touvelle was prompted to say what she thought of Barnes’ accent, which has a distinct Wisconsin-Minnesota dialect.

“He does say some words really weird,” Touvelle said.