Nagy wants Raiders to lose their trepidation on offense

FAIRBORN — Wright State has size, athleticism, shooters, ball-handlers and defenders.

One thing the team doesn’t have right now, though, is confidence.

It started when the Raiders encountered two foes last week that played half-court zones. They lost at Northern Kentucky, 73-63, and at home to Cleveland State, 71-67.

Even with a better showing Sunday in a 75-63 win over Purdue Fort Wayne, which played zone about 40% of the time, the offense didn’t exactly sizzle.

Those defenses have created some hesitance. The Raiders’ forte is pounding the ball inside, and that’s being severely hampered.

“We just have several players not being confident,” coach Scott Nagy said. “I don’t like when people don’t play confident. It gets me mad. I don’t respond to it very well, and that doesn’t help, either.”

Two players are flourishing: Tanner Holden had a combined 46 points on 16-of-28 shooting against NKU and CSU, while Trey Calvin had 29 total points and eight assists.

“I look out there now, and Trey and Tanner, they’re confident. Everyone else right now, they’re in these lulls,” Nagy said.

“But you know how confidence is. It comes and goes. Next time, it could Trey and Tanner who are kind of in the dumps and everybody else is playing better. We just need to get everybody together.”

Grant Basile, averaging 18 points per game, went a combined 6 of 19 from the field and 0 of 4 on 3′s for 14 points against NKU and CSU. And he played tentatively on offense until the second half against PFW, scoring 16 of his 21 points after halftime.

But the 6-foot-9 post was forced to step outside to get good looks against the Mastodons. And that may have to be the formula for him since Nagy expects a steady array of zones the rest of the season.

“After watching us against Cleveland State, why wouldn’t you zone us? Man to man, nobody’s been able to guard us,” he said.

Against the Vikings, the Raiders faced a man-to-man defense at the start and jumped out to leads of 11-0 and 16-3. But they slowed down when CSU switched to a zone midway through the first half, at least until a late rally.

They scored 24 points in the first 9:22 of the game and 15 points in the last 3:51. In the 26:47 between those surges, they had 28 points.

That defeat was particularly galling to Nagy because of the team’s unsightly 26 turnovers.

“Think about this: On more than a third of our possessions, we didn’t get a shot. And we lost by four,” he said.

The 26 turnovers are the most for the Raiders in at least the last 16 years (the school’s online season stats don’t go beyond 2006-07).

They had 25 against Ohio State in 2011-12 and 24 against Loyola in 2012-13.

In those 16 years, they’ve had 20 or more 16 times.

“Normally — particularly against those guys — you turn it over 26 times, you’re going to lose by 30,” Nagy said. “In the Cleveland State game, we guarded. But it doesn’t show up because we turned the ball over and gave up easy buckets.”

Horizon League shift: Since several teams have been impacted by COVID-19, creating varying numbers of games, the league has decided to determine its champion and tournament seeding by winning percentage.

Last year, it went with a formula that included strength of schedule. That’s how the Wright State and Milwaukee women, which finished 15-5, were named regular-season co-champs despite Green Bay winning at a slightly higher clip while finishing 14-4.

“We did not go down that (same) route this year. It’s just winning percentage, which I think is how almost every Division-I conference is doing it this year as well,” HL assistant commissioner Dan Gliot said.

“I like to think of it like softball and baseball in the Horizon League. Those games get lost (due to weather), and they’re not able to be made up, unfortunately.”

Oakland (9-1 in the league), Cleveland State (10-2), Wright State (9-4) and Northern Kentucky (7-4) all have nine conference games left.

The Raiders found a gap in their schedule to make up a cancellation with Northern Kentucky, but openings will be harder to find with the regular season ending Feb. 26.

“It’s tough. There are not a lot of dates. You don’t want to be playing six games in 11 days,” Gliot said.

Good-bye, UIC: The league lost a coveted member when UIC announced it was leaving for the Missouri Valley Conference this summer. Though it added Robert Morris and Purdue Fort Wayne last season to get to 12 members, it’s still a blow.

“It’s not good for our league losing that Chicago area,” Nagy said. “It’s good for UIC. But when you have 11 teams, it certainly changes the schedule. It’s obviously hard to have travel partners with 11 teams.”

UIC can’t be blamed for bolting. In conference RPI standings, the MVC is ranked 16th among 32 leagues, while the HL is 28th.

But the league is expected to be able find a replacement, as it did after losing Valparaiso in 2017, Loyola in ‘13 and Butler in ‘12.

“The Ohio Valley (Conference) is breaking up a little bit. There will be some options,” Nagy said.

THURSDAY’S GAME

Detroit Mercy at Wright State, 7 p.m., ESPN+, 980

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