Even while Mark Alstork was leading the nation in scoring, Wright State coach Scott Nagy was trying to convince his junior guard to dial down the offensive production.
Nagy’s rationale was that relying so much on one player isn’t a long-term formula for success. That was evident during Alstork’s brilliant 39-point game against Toledo. He went 15-for-25 from the field, yet the Raiders suffered an 82-78 defeat.
But the former Thurgood Marshall High School star seemed to struggle with finding a happy medium between shooting at will and getting others involved in the three-game Men Against Breast Cancer Classic.
He went a combined 4-for-25 from the field, scoring 24 points against CSU Bakersfield, 10 against North Dakota and a season-low five in 32 minutes against North Florida.
“I would have liked to see him be more aggressive. It looks like he’s trying to figure it out with the attention he gets defensively,” Nagy said. “But it’s great that we played two games where he didn’t really score and we won. I don’t expect it to be that way most of the time, but it gives our team confidence that we can do it.”
The Raiders probably don’t need Alstork to be a prolific scorer, but they’ll need him to be an efficient one as they embark on a prolonged stretch of road games, beginning tonight at Georgia State.
They’re playing seven of the next eight in enemy territory, and the preseason second-team All-Horizon League pick is one of the team’s few experienced players.
“I’m the focus of a lot of teams’ game plan. I’m just looking to do something different to be a positive influence on my team,” he said.
“It’s hard to know (when to shoot), but I’m going to adjust. There’s more than just scoring. As long as we’re winning, I’m willing to do whatever it takes.”
Alstork, who is 19th nationally in scoring with a 22.9 average, did accumulate 14 assists as the Raiders swept all three games in the Thanksgiving weekend event at the Nutter Center. He’s averaging a team-best 4.3 this season.
He’s also first in the nation in free throws made (61) and attempted (73). He’s taking advantage of his 6-5, 195-pound frame by taking the ball to the basket with authority.
He’s in the best shape of his life. He’s five pounds heavier than last season but lowered his body fat to four percent.
“I’ve got more freedom,” he said of Nagy’s offense. “I can use a little bit more of my skill package. Being aggressive, people are naturally going to foul me.”
While Nagy would like to see Alstork hike his field-goal percentage above its current 43.3, he’s pleased that the Raiders’ are developing a multi-prong attack. Four starters average in double figures with Steven Davis at 16.0, Grant Benzinger at 12.4 and Justin Mitchell at 11.3, while Mike La Tulip isn’t far off with his 9.4 clip.
“It’s good for our team to have four or five guys averaging double figures, versus one guy averaging 30,” Nagy said.
The Raiders are 6-1, which is their best-seven game start since also going 6-1 in 2000-01. They’ll have a challenge against Georgia State (3-2), coached by Dayton native Ron Hunter.
Nagy, who spent 21 years at South Dakota State, and Hunter, who had a 17-year run at IUPUI, matched wits frequently at their previous schools.
“He’s a very good coach. He’s got talented kids,” Nagy said. “They play zone, and it’s a hard zone. If you stand around trying to figure it out, you end up holding the ball over your head the whole time.
“You just have to play aggressive, play with freedom. And above all else, you have to take care of the ball.”
Who: Wright State (6-1) at Georgia State (3-2)
When: 7 p.m.
Where: GSU Sports Arena
TV/Radio: ESPN3, 106.5-FM