breaking news

Springfield Community Blood Center to close, but donation options remain

Wright State Raiders: Five questions facing team entering new season

A constant issue for Wright State basketball coach Scott Nagy early last season was getting his players to believe they were as good as he thought they could be. They may have professed confidence, but the results conveyed something else.

Nagy’s persistence finally paid off in a mid-December win at Toledo , which was also the debut of impactful point guard Cole Gentry. After a 4-4 start, the Raiders soared to a 25-10 record and their first NCAA tourney berth since 2007 .

»RECRUITING NEWS: Guard from Illinois commits to Wright State

“To me, that was the flipping point,” Nagy said. “When we won at Toledo, guys started thinking, ‘Oh, OK. Toledo is a good team, and we beat them on the road in a tough spot.’

“We should be able to benefit from what happened last year — the experience we gained and also how we see ourselves. Nobody has to be convinced any more that whenever we walk on the floor, we have a chance to win and we’re the best team. The challenge now is to not let success get to their heads, to stay humble and hungry. Those are two words we try to use all the time.”

»SCHEDULE NEWS: Wright State to open Horizon play vs. UIC

The Raiders will hold their first practice Wednesday, and if it sounds as if the preseason is starting earlier than ever, it’s because it is.

The NCAA made a rule change in January to allow games to begin Tuesday, Nov. 6, instead of the traditional Friday launch, in part to get away from the busy sports calendar on the weekend. Teams are permitted 30 practices starting 42 days from their openers.

»RELATED: ESPN adds four more Raiders games

Nagy is a proponent of the change because the preseason won’t feel as rushed.

“You get so much time with the players as it is,” he said, referring to formal summer workouts. “You don’t have to cram everything into three-hour practices. We’re able to shorten that up and keep our players healthy.”

The Raiders have an exhibition against Notre Dame (Ohio) on Oct. 31 before hosting Western Carolina on Nov. 7.

»RELATED: New ranking system will help determine NCAA field

Here are things to watch this season:

1. Better 3-point shooting, or so Nagy hopes. The Raiders were eighth in the Horizon League with a 33.7-percent clip. They graduated their top 3-point threat in Grant Benzinger, so others will need to shine.

“We just weren’t a great shooting team last year. Our goal is to shoot 40 percent from 3, and we didn’t have a PLAYER shoot 40 percent. That’s got to change,” Nagy said before rattling off players he sees making a jump this year such as Mark Hughes and Gentry. “We should be able to shoot the ball a lot better from 3.”

»RELATED: WSU freshmen jumping into the fray during summer workouts

2. Leadership void. Benzinger led the Raiders in points (14.3) and minutes (36.9), but he also set the tone with his non-stop effort.

“We can replace the basketball side of it. You always do. But it’s the other stuff,” Nagy said. “When he was out six weeks (with a preseason injury), it was clear how much we missed him.”

3. Dogged defense. The Raiders gave up just 65.9 points per game, which was first in the league and 29th nationally. Even better, they were 12th in the country in defensive efficiency, allowing 0.929 points per possession.

“We hope to be better,” Nagy said. “Last year, we had to count on inexperience. This year, we don’t have to if we stay healthy. Our inexperienced guys can fill roles versus being guys who have to play 35 minutes.”

4. Endless Love. Look for the Raiders to rely heavily on Louden Love. The 6-foot-9, 275-pound sophomore center blossomed last season, leading the league in rebounds (9.7) and field-goal shooting (53.3) while averaging 12.9 points. And Nagy expects increased production.

“He’s going to be a better free-throw shooter (54.1 percent last year). He’s finishing better. And we’ve been working on him to play with more energy on the offensive end,” he said.

5. Relatively smooth season. The Raiders are a popular pick in preseason magazines to finish first in the league, and a winning culture has been established.

“We’re not in a transition anymore,” Nagy said. “There are three players we didn’t recruit, but they’re our guys. They believe in us, and we believe in them.

“It’s not like we’re trying to convince anybody anymore about what we’re trying to get done. They just do what we ask them to do. And as a coaching staff, we trust all the kids.”

Reader Comments

Next Up in Sports

5 takeaways from Bengals’ 30-16 win over Raiders
5 takeaways from Bengals’ 30-16 win over Raiders

The celebratory postgame “Who Dey” chant in the locker room never sounded so good to the Cincinnati Bengals. Cincinnati ended a five-game losing streak Sunday with a 30-16 win over the Oakland Raiders in the home finale at Paul Brown Stadium. »RELATED: Bengals break through in home finale The Bengals (6-8) had come close to ending...
Dayton fades late against Tulsa and falls back to .500
Dayton fades late against Tulsa and falls back to .500

The Dayton Flyers suffered their fifth loss in the last six games Sunday, falling 72-67 to Tulsa in the Basketball Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase at Mohegan Sun Arena. This one had to feel similar to a number of the previous losses. Dayton (5-5) came out slow, trailing 27-13 in the first half. It rallied to tie the game 30-30 at halftime. Then it surged...
Mixon runs wild, Bengals snap five-game losing streak
Mixon runs wild, Bengals snap five-game losing streak

Joe Mixon had another big game, and this time he was rewarded with a win. Sparked by Mixon’s second straight 100-yard rushing performance, the Cincinnati Bengals ended a five-game losing streak with a 30-16 win over the Oakland Raiders in their home finale Sunday in front of 44,568 fans at Paul Brown Stadium. Mixon carried the ball 27 times for...
Former Dayton forward makes debut at College of Charleston
Former Dayton forward makes debut at College of Charleston

Former Dayton Flyers forward Sam Miller played his first college basketball game in 21 months Saturday, seeing five minutes of action for the College of Charleston in an 83-79 victory against Virginia Commonwealth in Richmond, Va. Miller had one steal and a turnover in his brief time on the court. This was his first appearance in a game since March...
Pressure powers Tecumseh past Kenton Ridge
Pressure powers Tecumseh past Kenton Ridge

Since Presley Griffitts and Corinne Thomas joined the Tecumseh girls basketball team as freshmen in the 2015-16 season the Arrows have dominated the Central Buckeye Conference. Coach Danielle Thomas’ teams have won three straight league titles and are 36-2 in league games. The Arrows’ early-season resume indicates they are again up to the...
More Stories