Scott Nagy never won coach of the year honors in the Summit League while at South Dakota State. To be fair, in his 21 seasons at the school, the Jackrabbits were only full-fledged members his last nine years.
But it wasn’t as if he didn’t field some outstanding teams in that span. They finished either first or second in his last five years with five straight postseason berths, including three NCAA tourney trips.
“To be honest with you, for a while there, the other teams were just so bothered the conference tournament was in Sioux Falls every year. They felt like we had such an advantage, and that bothered them,” Nagy said. “But it doesn’t matter. It’s just individual stuff anyway.”
Nagy certainly hasn’t been overlooked in his four seasons at Wright State, having just won this third straight Horizon League coach of the year award, sharing it this time with Cleveland State’s Dennis Gates.
The Raiders are 25-6 and won their first outright league crown in 29 years of conference play.
“That’s just a reflection of our players playing well — and my coaches, who do all the work,” said Nagy, who did win conference coach of the year honors five times while the Jackrabbits were in Division II. “Our players know our assistants do all the work.”
Nagy, of course, didn’t delegate his way to a 501-282 record in 25 years. But fans may have noticed he sometimes steps aside during timeouts and lets his assistants lead the huddle.
“I did that the last game for sure — mostly because our team was so locked in. It was the most I’ve ever seen them like that,” he said of the 64-62 win at Northern Kentucky on Friday .
“They really didn’t need me, and that’s when we have our best teams. We have such great leadership. They talk to each other, and talk each other through stuff. Sometimes, I can be negative, so it’s better if I stay out of it.”
The Raiders dominated the league and postseason awards. That’s how it’s supposed to work, though it doesn’t always happen that way.
»RELATED: Nagy wins 500th game
Loudon Love (first team), Bill Wampler (second) and Cole Gentry (third) earned all-league honors, while Tanner Holden and Grant Basile made the all-freshman team.
Nagy, though, was miffed the Raiders’ top defenders weren’t recognized.
“We were second in the league in defense, and we got nobody on the all-defensive team? That’s what bothered me the most,” he said.
“Loudon led the league in blocked shots. And, obviously, Jaylon (Hall) had every tough assignment. When your team is second in the league in defense — I just don’t think people pay attention to it like we do.”
Nagy, who turns 54 in June, has signed an extension with Wright State through 2023 . That doesn’t mean he’s obligated to stay, though. And with an average of nearly 24 wins per season the last nine years, he might be an attractive option this offseason for a top-end program.
But he and wife Jamie have five children, including a junior and senior in high school. And he puts a high value on being in a stable situation.
“I’ve got a great AD to work for. It’s the best in the country in terms of a head coach having an AD like Bob (Grant). I’m thrilled to be here, and I’m glad they like what we’re doing,” he said.
Coaches are a competitive lot, though, and the successful ones tend to jump to programs capable of winning a national title.
»RELATED: WSU program soaring under Nagy
Brad Brownell left a comfortable fit at Wright State for Clemson, and the three coaches at Dayton before Anthony Grant all left for major-conference jobs.
But Nagy is a man with strong faith, and he said he trusts his future to God.
“It doesn’t mean you don’t necessarily want more or don’t want bigger challenges, but it’s also being content where he has you,” he said.
“That’s not easy to do. But if I end my career at Wright State, it’d be a great place to end it. I’m in a great spot. A lot of coaches aren’t. They’re scrambling and fighting for their lives and don’t like where they are. I consider myself blessed in that regard.”
Nagy has no plans to leave, but he’s learned not to try to predict the future.
He was an assistant at South Dakota State from 1990-93 but had to go job hunting when coach Jim Thorson was fired. He left to join the staff at SIU Edwardsville in his native Illinois and made a bold proclamation that he ultimately had to retract.
“My wife and I drove out of South Dakota, and I remember saying to her as we were crossing the state line into Minnesota, ‘Well, that probably will be the last time we’re ever in South Dakota,’” Nagy said with a chuckle.
“Two years later, I went back and stayed there 21 years. I think God has such a sense of humor. I’m sure he laughed when I said that.”
Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.