The ESPN cameras caught something Friday night at Loyola that didn’t show up on Reggie Arceneaux’s remarkable stat line. In the second half, Cole Darling got beat for a layup, and Arceneaux let him and his Wright State teammate have it.
“It’s the second half,” Arceneaux told him. “We’re getting beat by eight. You’ve got to play defense. We’ve got to get stops.”
Although the 5-foot-9 guard Arceneaux scored a career-high 29 points and hit the game-winning 3-pointer in the Raiders’ 62-61 victory, one of the first things coach Billy Donlon mentioned after the game was his leadership. The Raiders don’t have seniors, but they have plenty of leaders.
Arceneaux is a big one because he’s the point guard. It doesn’t matter that he’s only a sophomore.
“Coach Donlon has stressed it to me since my freshman year,” Arceneaux said. “As soon as I stepped into this building, he told me, ‘I look for you to be the point guard of this team and to lead this team to success.’
Having a full year under my belt, having the season we had last year and playing against the teams we played against last year, I think that helps a lot. Playing against Florida, Ohio State, OU, all those guys, then having former players — Troy Tabler, Cooper Land — come back and talk to me, that helps.”
Arceneaux said Darling also got on him in the first half for not taking a charge, so the in-game criticism goes both ways.
“I do it all the time,” Arceneaux said. “They just take it. They do the same thing to me. I tell them if, ‘If I’m not doing my job, get on me.’ It’s not just my job to get on you guys or coach’s job to get on you guys. We get on each other. We’re brothers, and we’re all in this together.”
Arceneaux stays in the game even when he’s not in the game. He came out of Friday’s game in the final minutes even though he was red hot. He didn’t want to come out, but it turned out to be a wise decision. He had enough legs moments later to hit his sixth 3-pointer, and it gave the Raiders a 62-61 lead with 1:35 to play.
Neither team scored again as the Raiders improved to 13-4 and 4-0 in the Horizon League.
“It’s hard for me to sit down on the bench,” Arceneaux said. “They tell me, ‘Reggie, Reggie, sit down.’ I have to stand up. I stand up a lot. I’m talking to guys on the bench, ‘When you get in, you have to do this.’ ”
Arceneaux was Wright State’s leading returning scorer a year ago, and he’s now the leading scorer this season. He averages 10.8, just ahead of Darling’s 10.7.
Opponents probably won’t underestimate Arceneaux after that performance, but he’s long been overlooked because of his size. That was especially the case when he was forced to move from New Orleans to Charlotte with his family because of Hurricane Katrina.
“When I first moved there, I was trying to make a name for myself,” he said. “I could have easily went to a team that was stacked and rode the rollercoaster, but I didn’t. I wanted to make a name for myself. People didn’t know who I was, first of all. Secondly, they looked at me like, ‘He’s too small. He’s not going to do this. He’s not going to do that.’
“I don’t hear it as much anymore. It doesn’t bother me as much. I trust in my abilities and what I can do on the court.”