Wright State basketball: Nagy hoping team can pick up where it left off

FAIRBORN — Wright State coach Scott Nagy gave his players three full days off after beating Miami last week, bringing them back Monday to start preparing for Thursday’s game at Northern Kentucky.

He knows it’s a long season, and he wanted them to be able to spend Christmas with their families. But he was leery about giving them an extended break.

“The last time we took three days off, we were a mess afterwards, so we’ll talk about that,” he said.

ExploreCalvin's big night leads Wright State past Miami

The Raiders also had Thanksgiving weekend off after beating Weber State in their final game at the Vegas 4 tourney just before the holiday. But they didn’t exactly sustain their momentum.

They failed to register a win against another Division-I foe for about a month. But with the way they finished the non-league season — winning at Miami, 88-80, to improve to 7-6 — they look more than capable of contending for a Horizon League title again.

They shot 54.8% from the field, went 7 of 13 on 3′s and made 13 of 15 on foul shots. And they had contributions from just about everyone.

Trey Calvin was named Horizon League Player of the Week after scoring 27 points on 10-of-13 shooting with seven assists. And Nagy was especially pleased with the play of subs Alex Huibregtse and Andrew Wellage.

The 6-foot-3 Huibregtse had 11 points after tallying 15 in his previous game against Northwestern Ohio. And he seems to have shaken a four-game slump where he went 3 of 17 from the field.

The 6-6 Welage has been the Raiders’ most consistent shooter. He’s hitting 56.4% from the field, going 12 of 17 on 3′s and 10 of 10 on free throws.

Nagy has used a nine-player rotation for most of the year, which is two more than he typically prefers. But all nine have earned his trust.

“We’re feeling good about our bench,” he said. “We’ve still got a few guys struggling, but overall, we’ve got a pretty good mix of inside and outside where we can attack either way.”

Nagy, though, doesn’t get very deep into a discussion about his team without delving into defense. And — surprise, surprise — he’s not completely happy there.

Miami’s Mekhi Lairy, a 5-8 guard, scored 32 points. He was 12 of 15 from the field and 6 of 8 on 3′s.

He’s the third opposing player this season to top 30 points, joining Youngstown State’s Dwayne Cohill (43) and Western Kentucky’s Dayvion McKnight (32).

Only 10 players reached that mark in Nagy’s first six seasons.

“They’re all guards, and we just struggle with ball screens,” he said.

A growing trend on offense is to set screens for a dribbler near the top of the key to create a conflict for the defense.

Getting over the top of picks is a physical challenge. Going underneath them means an open look from 3.

Nagy would like to switch them, but that leaves a frontcourt player on a guard.

“If we put Brandon at the 5, we’ve got a good chance of guarding those ball screens — just because he’s quicker,” he said, referring to the athletic Brandon Noel. “But we can’t play Brandon at the 5 all the time.”

Nagy takes some consolation in knowing he’s not the only coach flummoxed over defending screens.

“I don’t watch a ton of basketball — because I get tired of it myself — but when I do, it doesn’t matter if it’s at the NBA level or the college level, everyone is struggling with ball screens,” he said.

THURSDAY’S GAME

Wright State at Northern Kentucky, 7 p.m., ESPN+, 980

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