Archdeacon: Calvin misses the shot, but he takes it

Credit: Joseph R. Craven

Credit: Joseph R. Craven

FAIRBORN — Most of his teammates already had left when Trey Calvin came out of the Wright State locker room.

He cradled his white and green-trimmed game shoes in an arm he pressed against his chest.

He carried the weight of the moment on his shoulders.

The fifth-year guard — harassed by three Toledo defenders in the final seconds of Tuesday night’s game at the Nutter Center — had just missed a jump shot at the buzzer and WSU lost its home opener, 78-77.

Immediately afterward, behind the closed locker room door, he‘d apologized to his teammates.

Once he’d left the team quarters, he still hadn’t shed that mea culpa mindset.

“Of course, I’m beating myself up now,” he said quietly. “I missed the game-winning shot.

“I probably should have made a smarter play. I should have driven the lane and tried to get a foul or passed it to one of my teammates. There was probably an open guy on the floor somewhere.”

There was not.

Three of his teammates were bunched beneath the basket with Toledo defenders and Alex Huibregtse was being shadowed by another Rocket on the wing.

WSU head coach Scott Nagy supported Calvin after the game: “He’s a highly, highly efficient offensive player. He’s a tremendous three-point shooter. His mid-range game is tough. We’ll always live and die with him taking that shot.

“I know this hurts him, but if you’re going to be that guy — the guy who takes it at the end — you have to be willing to disappoint people, too.

“We’ve all seen that commercial with (Michael) Jordan saying, “I’ve taken last shots…and failed. That’s why I succeed.”

The 1997 Nike commercial — shot in black and white shadows as Jordan walked through the underbelly of a stadium in a long, dark overcoat with a hoop earring dangling from his left lobe — featured the game’s greatest player making his famous soliloquy:

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted with the game winning shot…and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over…That is why I succeed.”

Actually, some guy with too much time on his hands, figured out that in his career Jordan took 946 game-winning shots and made 146 of them.

Nobody remembers the 800 misses.

But so many of those game-winners — “The Shot” that eliminated the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1989 Playoffs; the winner in the 1993 Conference Finals against the Cavs again; the shot that won the 1998 NBA championship against Utah — are all part of NBA lore.

And they, along with Jordan’s six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls and his five MVP awards, define the hoops greatness that was born in that failure to which he referred.

Tuesday night Calvin experienced his version of the Jordan premise.

After Toledo — which was leading, 78-77 — airballed a three with 12 seconds left, WSU got the rebound and called time out with 9.2 seconds left. Although Nagy verbalized the final play in the huddle, it was no secret to anyone in the crowd of 4,239 at the Nutter Center, and especially the Toledo team, what was coming.

“I’m sure they knew where the ball was going toward the end of the game,” said Wright State center A.J. Braun.

Time and again Calvin has been the Raiders’ final seconds hero.

He hit the long jumper at the buzzer to beat Louisville, 73-72, almost exactly a year earlier at the KFC Yum Center and that’s part of WSU lore.

“It was great to get that win against a Power 5 team,” Braun said. “It’s a good memory. A game we’ll all remember the rest of our lives.”

Raiders forward Brandon Noel agreed: “That’s the first game I was on the floor. It’s something I’ll always remember —Trey hitting that big shot at the end.”

Credit: Timothy D. Easley

Credit: Timothy D. Easley

And the season before that, Calvin capped off the Raiders’ 16-point comeback against Northern Kentucky with the game winning jumper in the Horizon League Tournament, a shot that sent WSU to the 2022 NCAA Tournament.

“He’s just a very clutch player,” Noel said. “He has those last-second skills that not a lot of people have. It’s something you can’t necessarily teach. It’s just something he’s been gifted with. That’s why I’ll always put my trust in him when the time comes.”

And that’s what happened Tuesday.

Braun inbounded the ball to Calvin, who dribbled the length of the court, initially bird-dogged by Rockets guard Sonny Wilson.

Noel gave him a bit of a screen near midcourt and that forced Toledo to switch defenders. Picked up by 6-foot-7 Jacob Simmons, the 6-foot Calvin maneuvered to just inside the arc and gave a pump fake to get Simmons airborne. But then, just as he was about to let loose of the ball, he also had the Rockets 6-foot-4 Ra’Heim Moss of Springfield lunge at him with unpraised arms.

Calvin’s shot hit the front of the rim and fell short.

Although the loss dropped the Raiders to 0-2 going into tonight’s game at Indiana, the defeats aren’t Calvin’s fault.

He led Wright State with a game-high 22 points against the Rockets.

In the season opener at Colorado State – an embarrassing 105-77 collapse against the Rams – he had a game-high 33 points.

Calvin leads the Horizon League in scoring this season – 27.5 points per game – and he’s also No. 1 or 2 in four other offensive categories.

Last year he was a first team All-Horizon League selection and finished second in the league in scoring at 20.3 points per game and was among the top 25 scorers in the nation in Division I.

Calvin has scored 1,587 points in his WSU career, eighth best in program history. He’s played in 124 games and just before Christmas he should break the Raiders’ all-time mark of 133 held by A.J. Pacher and Parker Ernsthausen.

That record would underscore not just his longevity, but his loyalty to the program. Before last season, the team’s other two stars — Grant Basile and Tanner Holden — both transferred out to Power 5 schools.

Basile went to Virginia Tech, was the team’s leading scorer last season and this year opted to play professionally in Italy. Holden went to Ohio State, came off the bench last year, and returned to WSU this season.

Calvin never wavered in his WSU commitment and immediately called Nagy when the other two departed to let them know he was staying.

Last season the Raiders leaned heavily on him and in the early stages this year, it’s been the same.

Nagy praised Calvin’s work ethic and commitment after the Toledo game:

“He just loves basketball. He just lives in the gym. He loves it. He might be over there tonight shooting — I don’t know. He’s always in there.”

When he left the dressing room Tuesday, Calvin talked about that:

“That’s where my confidence late in the game comes from. I get it from just being in the gym. I’ve worked on the shots, and I know I can hit the tough ones. I’ve done it the past two years.”

And that brings us to a quote from another sports great.

As hockey legend Wayne Gretzky once put it:

“You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take!”

But as Nagy said: “If you’re going to be that guy you’ve got to be willing to disappoint people and that’s not easy to do. And when it doesn’t work, it’s much easier to just go hide somewhere.

“Trey’s not doing that. I’m proud of him.”

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