Love’s steady production helps Raiders stay on winning path

Wright State center Loudon Love gets the basket against Green Bay forward Terrance Thompson during a men's basketball game at the Nutter Center in Fairborn Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020. E.L. Hubbard/CONTRIBUTED

caption arrowCaption
Wright State center Loudon Love gets the basket against Green Bay forward Terrance Thompson during a men's basketball game at the Nutter Center in Fairborn Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020. E.L. Hubbard/CONTRIBUTED

FAIRBORN -- Not having many diversions during the pandemic, Wright State players have made video games their most popular pastime, competing with each other mostly in NBA 2K.

Fifth-year senior center Loudon Love dabbled with it at one time and had gotten pretty proficient at collecting what’s known as virtual currency. But he no longer cares about being known as the best gamer.

He figures there are more constructive ways to spend his time than frantically pressing buttons on a controller.

“I used to play in high school. But I got to the point where I said, ‘If I’m going to work on my ‘game,’ it’s not going to be for virtual currency. I’m going to go to the gym,’” he said.

RELATED: Basile honored by Horizon League

The work he’s putting in on the court may not create the same adrenaline rush, but it could pay off in real currency down the road if Love can parlay his skills into a pro career.

He’s the reigning Horizon League Player of the Year and is performing at the same level this season.

He’s averaging 14.6 points while shooting a career-best 56.3% from the field. He also pulling down a league-high 10.3 rebounds and is tied with teammate Grant Basile for first in the conference in blocks with 23.

He’s also had six double-doubles this season, tied for 16th nationally. And he needs just 25 points to pass Bob Schaefer for No. 6 on the school’s all-time scoring list.

“I try to do what the team needs. If that means scoring, then scoring. If that means kicking it out, you kick it out,” he said.

He’s scored in double figures in all 15 games this season. He also had a streak of 15 in a row last year that was snapped with a six-point effort in the HL tourney loss to UIC, which means he’s hit double-digits in 30 of the last 31 games.

RELATED: Team-wide contributions keeping Raiders strong on board

“I don’t really focus on (scoring) as much. I focus on rebounding and — especially this year — my goal is to be better on defense,” he said.

“Honestly, that may be taking the pressure of it because I’m not thinking about offense. It probably makes it easier. I’ve had discussions with coaches here and there, and I probably could be scoring at a higher rate than I am. But we’re getting wins, so it’s not something to dwell on.”

Coach Scott Nagy talked in the offseason about playing the 6-8 Love and 6-9 Basile together. And after the preseason league favorites got off to a ragged start, he made the switch, putting Basile in for wing Jaylon Hall.

The Raiders (11-4, 9-3) have been on a roll and are outscoring foes by 16.4 per game, which is by far the best in the league and 15th nationally.

Basile is averaging 13.7 points and 6.9 rebounds and his shooting a team-best 64.7%. He was named conference player of the week Monday after scoring 44 points in a pair of wins at IUPUI, going 15 of 19 from the field and 11 of 12 on foul shots.

“We know what we’re going to get out of Loudon, and I think (the lineup switch) has helped him relax a little bit,” Nagy said. “He’s felt so much pressure these past few years. To have Grant playing the way he is takes a lot of pressure off him.”

Nagy knew the Raiders could be potent offensively with the duo.

His main concern was going against quicker lineups.

But they set season highs in points against the perimeter-oriented Jaguars, notching 95 and then 100 in games that were over just after halftime.

“They played four guards almost the whole time. These past few games, Loudon’s main focus is guarding on the perimeter. That’s not a normal position for him. He got driven a couple times, but he did a pretty good job,” Nagy said.

“For other teams, it’s probably more of a problem to guard us than it is to guard them.”

The Raiders are allowing a league-low 65.3 points per game, and Love likes how the twin towers have fortified the defense.

“We can force teams to take tough mid-range pull-ups and, even at the rim, there’s a wall up with bigger bodies,” he said.

“It helps our defense a lot, especially early in games. Not having any easy looks keeps the opposing team from getting on a roll.”

FRIDAY’S GAME

Robert Morris at Wright State, 9 p.m., ESPNU, 106.5

About the Author