Wright State basketball coach Billy Donlon said Thursday his team will start playing Bowling Green every year for the next four seasons, hoping the game will become a regional rivalry for the program that might generate some excitement among fans.
The annual meeting with Miami University has fit that profile, but the Raiders don’t know if they can still count on that series with the scheduling philosophy of new RedHawks coach John Cooper. He wants to play more home games than the team did under predecessor Charlie Coles and doesn’t want to be confined by long-term commitments to face WSU, Dayton, Xavier and Cincinnati each season.
“We would be very disappointed if we didn’t play Miami every year,” Donlon said. “It’s been a long-standing game. It’s been a terrific game. In the six years I’ve been here, there’s only been one blowout. Every other game came down to the last minute.
“The series has been very good since I’ve been here and was very good before I got here.”
Miami and WSU have met 27 times, including each year since 1999. The series with UD dates to 1909, and the teams have met each season except one since World War II.
But the RedHawks played just five nonleague games in Millett Hall last season and want more flexibility in their schedule.
“There’s going to be years where it makes it very arduous to play all the local schools, particularly if that cycle of those contracts has us going on the road for most of those folks,” Miami Athletic Director Brad Bates said. “One of the things we’re trying to do at Miami is get a lot more home games for our program.
“The wonderful thing about Miami’s history is we’ve been playing all the local teams — Cincinnati, Xavier, Dayton and Wright State. But that’s four games on your schedule annually, and the number of opportunities you’re going to have beyond those four games is limited. ... That’s the general discussion we’re having internally right now.”
Coles played a daunting array of non-league foes.+-But the Mid-American Conference hasn’t had an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament since 1999, and all leagues have been encouraging their teams to schedule more winnable games to improve their collective RPI.
Miami likely will still play some big-name foes — just not as many of them.
“Obviously, regular games that help not only Miami’s, but our conference’s RPI is what we want to look at very seriously — games that are going to be of interest to our fans and, quite honestly, games that help our recruiting effort,” Bates said. “Students want to play against some of the best teams in the country. Balancing all those different variables is really the key to what we’re trying to achieve.”
Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2125 or dharris@DaytonDaily News.com.