Coming off first NCAA Tournament win, Wright State ‘hungry’ for more

Wright State guard Tim Finke (24) shoots against Arizona during the first half of a first-round NCAA college basketball tournament game, Friday, March 18, 2022, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

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Wright State guard Tim Finke (24) shoots against Arizona during the first half of a first-round NCAA college basketball tournament game, Friday, March 18, 2022, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

FAIRBORN -- March success doesn’t seem that long ago for Wright State’s men’s basketball team. The Raiders got to 22 wins after a slow start, won the Horizon League tournament and made the short drive to UD Arena for the first NCAA Tournament victory in school history.

But there’s no more talk of that as the eight-week summer practice period winds down. Coach Scott Nagy wouldn’t want it any other way.

“Last season’s over,” he said. “Nobody’s spent any time talking about that, other than we obviously use the past success in recruiting. But for this team that’s here now there’s been zero time spent talking about that.”

But that doesn’t mean Nagy didn’t wonder about the effect.

“Coming off of how we ended the season last year, it’d be easy for people to take a breather,” he said. “But I think the guys are pretty hungry.”

The past success had a positive effect in recruiting high school players and the transfer portal. The Raiders lost leading scorers Tanner Holden (Ohio State) and Grant Basile (Virginia Tech) to the portal, but they went out and got Trotwood-Madison graduate Amari Davis from Missouri and Blake Sisley from Evansville to go along with freshmen guards Logan Woods from Fairfield, Drey Carter from Westerville South and walk-on Anthony Johnson from Fairmont.

“It’s fun because it brings a little bit of a challenge trying to put all the pieces together, and it makes it more rewarding,” said senior Tim Finke, the Raiders’ best defender and leader in minutes played last year at 36.1. “They all bring their own unique skill set, and it’s cool to see how it all blends together.”

Finke, point guard Trey Calvin and center A.J. Braun are returning starters. Davis will step into the starting lineup after two years at Green Bay and one at Missouri. Davis led Trotwood to the 2019 Division II state title and was that division’s player of the year. Then he averaged 15,9 and 17.1 points at Green Bay. He started 13 games at Missouri and averaged 9.0 points.

“I’ve talked to coaches about how I’ve enjoyed playing with him and we move well together,” Finke said. “I like to move without the ball a lot, and when we’re on the same team in practice we’re getting good movement, and we’re sharing the ball and playing well together.”

Sisley, a 6-foot-8 forward, will pair with fellow sophomore Braun inside. Sisley became a starter and double-figure score late in the season and made the Missouri Valley Conference’s all-freshman team. Braun started most games last year and averaged 14.9 minutes, 5.4 points and 3.0 rebounds.

“We’re probably a little unique in that that’s a focus for us to throw it inside and try to play inside out,” Nagy said. “Because personnel changes, all those things changed a little bit. And so it takes the coaching staff a little while to figure out what works best offensively.”

The backcourt will miss Holden, but there could be depth. Davis, Calvin and sophomore Keaton Norris have experience. Woods and Carter bring more size. Woods is 6-5 and played for a guard-dominated team at Fairfield that reached the Division I region final last year before losing to Centerville. Carter is 6-8.

Summer practice concludes at the end of next week, and Nagy likes what has been accomplished. The new players are fitting in and learning the drills and plays so the team can start practice in late September at full speed. That keeps practices shorter in the preseason and players more fresh.

Nagy’s assistants do most of the teaching in the summer, and he says that’s a good thing.

“It gives the players a break from me a little bit,” he said. “It’s a different mindset than when practice starts. And when practice starts, then I become a lot more involved and get a lot more turned up. It’s a different feel for everybody. I think the players like it, and I know the coaches like it.”

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