Archdeacon: An odd night at the Nutter Center for Wright State

FAIRBORN — So many things didn’t look like you remembered them Saturday night at the Nutter Center.

  • Wright State came into the game with Oakland with the No. 6 rated offense in Division I basketball. The Raiders averaged 86 points per game, but scored their lowest point total of the season and lost 74-60 to the Golden Grizzlies.
  • WSU was rated No. 1 in the nation in field goal percentage, making 53.8 percent of its shots on the year. Against Oakland, the Raiders hit just 23 of 68 attempts for 33.8 percent.
  • More woeful was their marksmanship from long range. They were ranked No. 14 in the nation in three-point field goal percentage at 38.3 percent, but went 5-for-28 for a miserable 17.8 percent.
  • Trey Calvin, who has scored 2,026 career points at WSU and is second in the league in scoring this season (19.6), was making 43.4 percent of his three-point attempts this season. Against Oakland, he went 0-7 and that prompted fellow guard Alex Huibregtse to say afterward: “I’d put a lot of money down that Trey Calvin will NEVER shoot 0-for-7 again from three.”
  • Saturday was shaping up to produce a milestone moment for Tanner Holden, who, like Calvin, will one day be a WSU Hall of Famer. He was 16 points away from topping 2,000 career points when you combined his totals from WSU and his one-year foray at Ohio State last season (which produced just 97 points.)

With 2:36 left in the game, Holden — who had scored 15 points on the night and leads the Horizon League in field goal accuracy — went in for layup.

This would crack the 2 K mark!

But he missed. And he missed a three at game’s end, so he sits at 1,999 going into next Saturday’s home game against Robert Morris.

  • An even more surprising sight Saturday night — as it was the two games prior —was seeing Holden sitting on the bench for the opening tip. Before being moved out of the starting lineup, he had started 114 of the 115 games he had played at WSU.

The change of scenery was orchestrated by WSU head coach Scott Nagy in the same fashion he moved Calvin to the bench for five games last season.

Calvin still ended up as the Horizon League’s second-leading scorer last year and won first team, all-conference honors. He was picked this preseason as the league’s likely player of the year.

Nagy’s strategy is meant to jump start his key players and, in turn, the team.

When he made the move, Nagy made it clear that he did not — and no one else should either — point a finger at Holden for any of the Raiders’ failures this season. Picked in the preseason to win the league. WSU is now 14-12 and 9-6 in the conference, which puts them fourth in the standings,

Besides being the league’s most accurate shooter, Holden is seventh in scoring (16.2), seventh in rebounding (6.5), fourth in steals and eighth in assists.

After Saturday’s game, the fifth-year forward was the one player Nagy praised:

“Tanner was very active tonight. He had 10 rebounds. He’s getting more back to who he is.”

Asked how Holden was handling the move to the bench, Nagy shrugged:

“I’m sure he doesn’t love it. But I’m not overly worried about it. He still played over 37 minutes (most on the team) tonight, so what’s it matter?”

Afterward, Holden was brief when corned for a comment, but diplomatic: “I keep the same mentality than if I started. It’s not really a big deal. It’s just about coming out and winning.”

Teammate Brandon Noel commended the way Holden has handled the situation:

“It’s a different look for sure and no one ever wants that to happen, but he’s handed it just like Trey did last year. He’s handled it well and he’s still playing at a high level.

“I think it’s probably something good for the team.”

Noel, the 6-foot-6 redshirt sophomore, grew up in Lucasville, just 19 miles north of Holden, who lived in Wheelersburg on the Ohio River.

“He’s one year older than me and I first knew of him in late grade school or early middle school,” Noel said. “We never played against each other then because we were different ages. But I saw him at All-Star tournaments when I was with my team, and he was with his.

“But in high school, until I transferred (to Chillicothe as a senior), we were in the same league and played against each other twice. They got us both times.”

When Noel signed with Wright State, he said he dreamed of finally playing alongside Holden one day and they were roommates his first year with the Raiders.

But Noel red-shirted his first two seasons at WSU, as Holden became one of the darlings of the program and led the team to its first-ever Division I NCAA Tournament win.

Last season, with Noel finally ready to take the floor, Holden transferred to Ohio State for a season.

The move didn’t go quite as Holden hoped. He came off the bench in 27 games and averaged just over 13 minutes and 3.6 points a contest.

This year he returned to the Raiders.

“He’s brought us experience and with that comes leadership,” Noel said. “I’ve followed his words of wisdom, if you will, for a long time. He always talked to me, even when I was younger, and more so this year. He still gives me advice. He still helps me in the good times and the bad.”

As for Saturday night, Nagy didn’t call it bad. He called it an “oddity.”

“This is the first time all year — that’s 26 games — where we haven’t played well offensively,” he said. “For me to say that, it’s incredible.

“I told the players after the game, the main thing you can ask for is for your kids to play hard and I thought they did. They didn’t give in to the discouragement of having a bad offensive night.

“But I was amazed by how many easy shots we missed.” When the game ended you were reminded of one more thing that no longer looked as you remembered it:

  • As the two teams went through the handshake line, the Golden Grizzlies were led by their now cub-sized coach, Greg Kampe, who a year ago this time was a bear of a man.

He’s in his 40th season at Oakland — the longest tenured coach at one school in Division I basketball — and he used to cut quite a prodigious figure on the sideline.

Forced to deal with the bad trending of his Type-2 diabetes, he began to diet. He said he’s used Ozempic.

“He told me he lost 60 pounds since March,” Nagy said.

After his Oakland team lost to Dayton on Dec. 20, Kampe told me when it comes to his new weight:

“I feel great!” Some losses will do that for you.

As the Wright State players went through the postgame meet and greet, the looks on their faces told you others do not.

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