“When you come into something early, you want to do it in a way that you can be part of change, to make things better. When you see this (celebration), you know all that work was worth something.”
The Raiders abandoned tiny McLin Gym for their 10,000-seat home in 1990.
The Setzer Pavillion, which houses a practice court and plush locker rooms, came along in 2005.
Grote was a two-time co-MVP, sharing the award with Lyle Falknor in 1974-75 and Rick Martin in 1975-76. And he’s one of only 15 players in the 1,000-point, 500-rebound club, along with current stars Tanner Holden and Grant Basile.
He helped pave the way for the D-II national title in 1983, the jump to D-I in ‘87 and the four NCAA appearances since then.
Two of those trips have come in the last four years, and he’s thrilled with how coach Scott Nagy seems to be taking the Raiders to new heights.
“Coach Nagy has really brought the program together from a family standpoint. And execution-wise, they do the things they need to do to be victorious,” the Wright State Hall of Famer said.
“They have that family unit and family feel, and when you combine that with winning on the floor, life is good.”
Grote’s priority after learning the Raiders would face Bryant in a play-in game at UD Arena was to scrounge up a ticket (his Raider connections have their limits).
He knows how important a win — even against another 16 seed — would be.
“It puts you on the map,” he said. “It gives you the confidence you can compete at that level, and you’re ready to take the next step.
“Those kinds of things come in increments. Until you do it, you can’t get to the next level.”
Nagy, of course, would agree. And they’re also aligned in their thinking that the Raiders look to be on the ascent in the college basketball world.
They’ll return their top seven scorers and rebounders next season and signed two impact recruits in 6-foot-8 guard Drey Carter of Westerville South and 6-4 guard Logan Woods of Fairfield.
“They have an opportunity to be really good next year — especially with the two kids coming in. I’ve seen them both play. I think they’re going to be really good college players. Both are really athletic and long and do things the right way,” he said.
Grote likes how Nagy puts as much an emphasis on character as ability.
“There are two things that coaches do: They either get kids that fit their system or they just go get the best talent they can and try to make them part of the system,” he said. “These kids — just like the guys who are here — are family oriented, good people, and they play really hard. They care.
“Both have been to multiple games here already. They’re already part of the program. They’ll both fit in really well.”