College basketball: Wright State picked to win Horizon League

Wright State University center Loudon Love looks to shoot against IUPUI forward Elyjah Goss during their Horizon League game at the Nutter Center in Fairborn Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. Wright State won 106-66. Contributed photo by E.L. Hubbard
Wright State University center Loudon Love looks to shoot against IUPUI forward Elyjah Goss during their Horizon League game at the Nutter Center in Fairborn Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. Wright State won 106-66. Contributed photo by E.L. Hubbard

Senior Loudon Love picked to repeat as player of the year

Wright State coach Scott Nagy doesn’t hesitate to challenge his players when necessary, bringing a hard word or even picking up the decibel level if that’s what it takes.

But he’s a little reluctant to chastise star Loudon Love — because the senior center is already so tough on himself.

“Coaching him, I struggle because if I end up being critical, he takes it to heart and thinks he’s disappointing me and letting me down. ‘You’re the MVP of the league. How can you be disappointing me?’” Nagy said with a laugh.

“But I’m probably the most critical of him. No. 1, I think he can take it. Some kids don’t take criticism well, but with Loudon, I can get after him, yell at him, and he won’t fold up his tent and go home. If you can be more critical of your better players, it helps the rest of the team.”

That candor certainly seems to be working. Love was named preseason Horizon League player of the year Thursday after having won the award for the 2019-20 season.

The Raiders — who set program records in the Division I era for total wins (25) and league victories (15) last season — also were the overwhelming pick as the preseason favorite for the third straight year, getting 37 of 44 first-place votes.

Youngstown State, which was named first on three ballots, was picked second, while Northern Kentucky, which had the other four top nods, was third.

“I say it all the time: Whether you’re good or bad, there’s pressure. And I’d rather have the expectation of being good,” Nagy said.

“It’s where you want your program. You want the excitement. You want the expectation on the players, and it’s OK to get everyone’s best. That’s the kind of program you want to have and want to run, to be consistently thought of that way.”

No other Raider made the preseason first or second team, but a pair of Dayton-area natives received recognition.

Youngstown State’s Darius Quisenberry, a junior guard from Wayne, made the first team along with Green Bay’s Amari Davis, a sophomore guard from Trotwood-Madison. The other first-teamers were IUPUI’s Marcus Burk and Detroit Mercy’s Antoine Davis.

Love averaged 15.9 points and 9.7 rebounds as a junior, and Nagy is hoping for more production this season.

“He’s been incredible,” Nagy said. “He’s been one of the best kids I’ve ever coached. He’s been a great teammate. He’s super unselfish — almost to a fault. I’d like to see him be more selfish and more aggressive.”

Love, of course, is the first to point out he’s not a finished product.

“I want to get better at my touch around the rim, the feel,” he said. "Obviously, I want to shoot a better field-goal percentage (than his 48.8% last year). I’ve worked a lot of my form as far as free throws (56.4% last season). I’m looking to improve that as well.

“I’m focused on almost everything, just trying to hone my skills and tighten up on the little things.”

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