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Donlon named Horizon League Coach of the Year

Wright State assistant coach Scott Woods wasn’t sure how the team would honor head coach Billy Donlon at practice Monday after Donlon was named Horizon League Coach of the Year.

Woods didn’t think Donlon would enjoy a big ceremony, but he did plan to take advantage of the moment in one way.

“We’re actually trying to talk him into letting the team do the Harlem Shake,” Woods said. “We’re hoping he’s in a good mood.”

Donlon, a third-year head coach who came to Wright State as an assistant in 2006, would probably rather see his team dance next week after winning the Horizon League tournament, but if ever there was a reason to celebrate before the end of the season, it was Monday.

Donlon, 36, became the first Horizon League coach since 2007-08 to win the award without winning the regular season championship. Cleveland State’s Gary Waters and Wright State’s Brad Brownell, whose teams tied for second, shared the award that season. Paul Biancardi is the only other Wright State coach to win the honor (2004).

Wright State’s ability to overcome the preseason predictions, which had the Raiders finishing last, and claim the third seed in the conference tournament made Donlon the choice over Valparaiso’s Bryce Drew, whose team won its second straight regular-season title and swept two games from the Raiders.

“It’s very much an award where your players and staff are the reason why,” Donlon said. “It’s not a singular award for just me. Anytime a coach wins coach of the year anywhere, your players and staff have done a lot of work to earn that. It truly is a program award.”

Coach of the Year

Wright State had one player honored by the conference. Junior forward Cole Darling, who missed four games early in the season with a shoulder injury and has missed the last four games with a foot injury, made the second team. He has averaged 11.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.

“There are a lot of good players in this league,” Darling said. “To make the list of top 10 guys, it’s definitely an honor.”

Darling hasn’t ruled out playing in Friday’s 6 p.m. Horizon League tournament quarterfinal at Valparaiso against Youngstown State or Loyola.

“I’m still hoping,” he said. “A lot of treatments to do. Hopefully, I’ll be around for Friday.”

Despite leading the conference in scoring defense, the Raiders didn’t place any players on the all-defensive team.

Detroit senior guard Ray McCallum, who led the league with 19.2 points per game, was named Horizon League Player of the Year, unseating Valparaiso’s Ryan Broekhoff, last year’s winner.

Other awards went to: Cleveland State freshman Bryn Forbes (newcomer of the year); Youngstown State’s Damian Eargle (defensive player of the year); Valparaiso’s LaVonte Dority (sixth man of the year).

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