Coach Billy Donlon likes to throw movie quotes at his Wright State men’s basketball players. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don’t.
“Carpe diem,” from “Dead Poets Society” works because players can relate to its meaning, “seize the day,” even if they’ve never seen the movie, and odds are they haven’t — it came out before any of the players were born.
Talking to his perimeter players recently, Donlon tried a “Top Gun” reference — “I’ll put on the brakes, and he’ll fly right by” — but it fell on deaf ears.
“That used to be great,” Donlon said. “Everyone saw it. It’s a classic.”
If Donlon works in a few “Fast and Furious” references this season instead, it’ll be because he’s adapting, and that will be the story of the season on the court, too.
Donlon takes his team into tonight’s 7 p.m. exhibition opener against Central State at the Nutter Center knowing he needs to look at multiple combinations of players in hopes of finding the right mix. Guards Reggie Arceneaux, Miles Dixon and Matt Vest and forwards Cole Darling and AJ Pacher will start.
“I don’t think there are any guaranteed spots on the team,” Donlon said. “Guys are competing for jobs. We want to look at different lineups because this team can play different ways.”
That doesn’t mean the Raiders won’t want to win. They lost 56-50 to Central State a year ago in exhibition play.
“I just want to see us execute, get better and compete,” said the sophomore Arceneaux, the team’s leading returning scorer. “Us being competitive, we want to win this game. It’s not just a scrimmage.”
Donlon said playing time is scripted in the first half, but everyone will play, except Kendall Griffin, who will miss the game with an injury. Even freshman Jacoby Roddy, who returned to practice Monday after having knee surgery in September, will see some action.
The first players off the bench are still competing for jobs in the season opener, Nov. 9, at Idaho.
“Joe Bramanti is right there,” Donlon said. “Kendall would be starting if he were healthy. He’s done well. J.T. (Yoho) and Jerran (Young) and Tavares (Sledge) are all right there. I made the decision to go with guys, other than Miles, who have played considerable minutes, but all those other guys are right there. Bobo (Drummond) is going to be a good player. He’s probably a little behind Reggie and maybe even Joe right now.”
This is the fourth straight season Wright State has played Central State. The Marauders are coached by Donte Jackson. Their starters are: 5-foot-9 guard Phillips Gates, 6-4 guard DeMarcus Isom-Jones, 6-4 guard LeDonte Body, 6-9 forward Lee Tabb and 6-6 forward George Harper.