- Doug Harris Contributing Writer
Wright State’s Louden Love was named the Horizon League freshman of the week for his performance at Toledo on Saturday, and he probably could have won the award if he only played one half against the Rockets.
The 6-foot-9, 275-pound center had 11 points and 12 rebounds in the 77-69 win, and 10 points and eight boards came after halftime.
“He wasn’t very good the first half, but he was tremendous in the second half. He had a seven-minute stretch where he really took the game over,” coach Scott Nagy said.
He was 0-for-0 from the field and 1-for-2 from the foul line with three turnovers in the first half, but he finished 3-for-8 on field goals and 5-for-8 on free throws and didn’t commit another turnover in the second half.
“He struggled in the first half and sometimes he gets tentative,” Nagy said. “He gets angry with himself and everyone else.”
That sounds like a troublesome place to be, but Nagy actually likes that in Love.
“He gets to the point where he just doesn’t care, and that’s where we need him,” Nagy said before joking, “I’ve asked that we can designate somebody before the game to just slap him in the face so we can get him going.”
Love redshirted last year along with classmate Everett Winchester, who has been a two-time league freshman of the week, and that decision by Nagy is paying off. Both transformed their physiques and have been impact players.
Love is averaging 9.3 points and 8.3 rebounds and Winchester 8.9 and 3.6.
“He’s taking a lot of pressure off everybody because our focus is feeding Lou the ball, and teams have to double-team him because he’s so big,” senior Justin Mitchell said of Love. “If you don’t, nobody can really guard him. He’s getting better. I’m proud of Lou and what he’s brought to this team.”
His teammates call him Lou (pronounced Loo) instead of Louden (LOUD-en). He also has gone by a different last name since enrolling at Wright State.
He was known as Louden Love-Vollbrecht at Geneva (Ill.) High School, but he dropped the Vollbrecht (his father’s surname) after his parents separated.
“I haven’t seen my dad. (Love) is my mom’s maiden name. And I owe it all to her,” he said.
He also joked that his previous name probably would have been butchered at games anyway.
“It definitely makes it easier for some of the announcers, especially on the road,” he said.
The Raiders have another redshirt decision to make this season with 6-7 forward, 205-pound forward James Manns, who signed in April after playing one season for Kingston Academy in Middletown.
Manns, who averaged 16 points and seven rebounds last season, played for Columbus Walnut Ridge before prep school and originally signed with High Point as part of the class of 2016. But he backed out of that commitment without playing a game.
After a lengthy process with the NCAA, he was cleared to play about two weeks ago. He’ll have four years of eligibility.
“It’s just a tough deal coming in at the middle of the year. If he would have come in at the beginning, he’d be playing for us. With our rotations the way we are now, we just need to see,” Nagy said.
“James needs to work on his body and get stronger, but he’s a really good offensive player. The things we’re working on are defense and rebounding.”