‘It’s good to be back’ -- Nagy set to return to Wright State bench after two-game absence

FAIRBORN – Scott Nagy’s distaste for distractions helps drive his discipline to focus only on the next game for his Wright State men’s basketball team.

He doesn’t worry about the looming five-game road trip.

“I don’t mind playing the five in a row,” he said. “You’ve got to play them some time, so I’m not too concerned about that.”

He doesn’t wonder if leading scorer Tanner Holden will be first-team, all-Horizon League.

“That’s not something I think about, and I don’t want him to worry about it or anybody else,” Nagy said.

And he isn’t analyzing the standings and circling what might be the big games later this month or in February. The Raiders (6-7, 3-1 Horizon League) have won four straight, and big games are coming if they keep winning.

Their league loss is to Cleveland State (7-3, 3-0) and their three wins are against teams with combined records of 11-26 overall and 4-7 in the league. Cleveland State and Oakland (9-4, 4-0) don’t appear on the schedule until after the road trip.

“I don’t pay attention to what other people are doing as much as I can,” Nagy said. “I have to eliminate all the distractions, and I have to have a very narrow focus, otherwise I get distracted, I get discouraged.”

Finally – at least for a while – Nagy doesn’t have to worry or think or be discouraged about COVID-19 and all the distractions it brings. After being forced to sit at home during the last two games (league wins over Milwaukee and Green Bay), Nagy is back full time and will be on the bench Thursday night when the Raiders host UIC (4-7, 0-2) with a chance to reach the .500 mark.

“It’s good to be back,” Nagy said. “I don’t know how the players feel about it, but I’m glad to be back. For everybody, some normalcy is good. It has been a very bizarre time here after Christmas.”

Starting freshman center A.J. Braun also returns after missing the last two games due to COVID protocols. He will be back in the starting lineup with his 7.6 scoring average and 69.2 shooting percentage.

“It makes our team bigger and stronger and makes our team better offensively because he finishes pretty good around the rim,” Nagy said.

C.J. Wilbourn started in Braun’s absence and Andrew Welage played more minutes off the bench. Wilbourn made some key plays in last Thursday’s win over Milwaukee. Welage scored five points apiece against Milwaukee and Green Bay and shot a combined 4-of-7 from the field with two steals and only one turnover. He played a little above his average with 15 minutes against Milwaukee and 17 against Green Bay.

“Andrew played better and we’re just hoping he continues to improve and give us great minutes off the bench,” Nagy said.

Holden, a 6-6 junior guard, continues to be the Raiders’ most consistent offensive player. He surpassed 1,000 career points on Saturday and got a congratulatory text from Nagy.

“That’s not an easy thing to do to score 1,000 points I don’t care where you play, so it’s a pretty big accomplishment,” Nagy said. “But there’s so many other things to focus on. It happens, you congratulate him, and you move on.”


UIC at Wright State, 7 p.m., ESPN+, 980

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