Raiders seek momentum for tournament

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Raiders seek momentum for tournament

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Joe Bramanti, of Wright State, is guarded by Illinois-Chicago’s Jay Parker on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago. David Jablonski/Staff Wright State’s Joe Bramanti is guarded by UIC’s Jay Parker. Wright State lost 60-55 to Illinois-Chicago at UIC Pavilion on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, in Chicago.

Reggie Arceneaux rolled a rack of basketballs out onto the court before practice Thursday. For a few minutes, before his Wright State teammates started filing in one by one, the sophomore guard had the Nutter Center court all to himself.

Today will be a little different. Four thousand or so fans will watch Arceneaux and the Raiders play their final regular-season game at 2 p.m. against Youngstown State (16-13, 7-8).

A season that started with question marks could end with an exclamation point, or maybe even an OMG or even a SMH — that’s “oh my God” and “shaking my head” if you’re over the age of 30 or not on Twitter — depending on what happens today and next week.

“We’d like to play better and get a win under our belt going to the tournament,” Wright State coach Billy Donlon said. “You always feel a little better when that happens.”

The Raiders (18-11, 9-6) lost 60-55 at Illinois-Chicago on Tuesday, slipping to fourth place in the Horizon League.

The tournament scenario is a simple one for the Raiders. If they win and Green Bay loses at home to Valparaiso, Wright State will get the No. 3 seed and will play in the quarterfinals at 6 p.m. Friday against the No. 6 or 7 seed.

If Wright State loses or Green Bay wins, then the Raiders get the No. 4 seed and host No. 9 seed Milwaukee in the first round Tuesday.

The irony for Wright State is it needs to reverse a recent trend and play well at home, where it has lost four of its last five games, in order to have a chance to not play at the Nutter Center again this year.

“We need to regain the Nutter Center,” freshman guard Joe Bramanti said. “This is our home court. This is where we want to be. No one’s coming in here and taking it from us. That’s a crucial point.”

If this is the last home game, it’s not such a big deal for this team. The Raiders have no seniors and should return the same team next year — something that’s not a given considering how much the roster changed in the offseason after last season ended — while adding Butler transfer Chrishawn Hopkins and freshman Steven Davis.

“We’ve been fortunate to have some young guys transform into really good quality leaders,” Donlon said. “No seniors this year, but they need to play like it’s senior night, I know that much.”

The team will get a boost if Arceneaux can play better. He returned to action Tuesday with one point in 22 minutes having had just one full practice since suffering a concussion Feb. 12.

“I think hopefully a day or two of practice and a game to get himself back, I think he’ll play better,” Donlon said. “And the way he played on Tuesday, you can’t really fault him. He hadn’t played in two weeks. I love Reggie. We all didn’t have a good day at the office, myself included.”

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