Finke’s slump-breaking night at least one positive from Raider defeat

Credit: David A. Moodie

Credit: David A. Moodie

FAIRBORN — Wright State’s Tim Finke went into the Robert Morris game Thursday in an offensive funk. Of the 10 players who had seen action this season, he was the only one shooting under 50%.

The fifth-year senior has been known more for his dogged defense than a fluid outside stroke, but he’d reached a new low through November, hitting 33.9% from the field, 27.8 on 3′s and 61.5 on foul shots.

“It definitely gets to you. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t,” Finke said. “I’ve been through slumps all my life. It’s all about how you deal with it and how you come out of it. It’s not going to stay like that forever.”

It didn’t.

In 36 minutes against the Colonials, he scored a season-high 18 points, making 7 of 9 shots and going 4 of 5 on 3′s in the Horizon League opener.

“I think it was more a mental thing,” he said. “I told myself not to care so much about it — just go out there and play.”

While a looser approach allowed Finke to regain his confidence, he didn’t get much help in the lopsided 80-59 defeat.

As if the loss to the lightly regarded Colonials at home wasn’t enough of a stunner, the final margin was nothing short of stupefying.

It was largest defeat at the Nutter Center since an 82-54 setback to Ohio U. in 2011-12.

In 202 games in six-plus seasons under coach Scott Nagy, the Raiders have suffered only three worse losses: 96-52 to Purdue last season, 73-47 to Tennessee in the 2018 NCAA tourney and 72-50 at Penn State in 2016-17.

Asked how the Raiders managed to get so far off track, Finke said: “I don’t think it was X’s-and-O’s, like the staff said at halftime. It was just (not) playing hard.”

The result had to trigger some double-takes around the league. Robert Morris was riding a four-game losing streak, and its only wins were against Division-II West Virginia Wesleyan and Division-III Pitt Greensburg.

The apathy on the part of his team left Nagy appalled

After some poor showings in the past, he’s opted not to show the video to his players, believing it’s better just to purge it from their memory banks.

But not this time.

“I think we need to watch it. Sometimes, you’ve got to take your medicine,” he said after the game.

The Raiders will be looking to recover their mojo when they return to HL action against visiting Youngstown State at 1 p.m. Sunday.

“Players know I’m going to take the blame for (the thrashing). But this one has to be watched and has to be felt,” Nagy said.

“If it’s felt deeply, we’ll play hard Sunday. That doesn’t mean we’ll win, but at least we’ll show up and play hard.”

Finke played 1,298 minutes in 36 games last season, the most in Raider history. And his veteran perspective will help.

He was part of a 2-7 start in 2021-22, but Wright State salvaged a lost season and reached the NCAA tourney.

“This stuff happens — it does — during the course of a season,” he said. “Every team I’ve ever been on, it’s happened. And it’s how we respond to it.

“That’s the most important thing. We’ve just got to get past it.”


Youngstown State at Wright State, 1 p.m., ESPN+, 980

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