Wright State basketball: Nagy isn’t expecting to dominate, but still high on Raiders

Wright State guard Tanner Holden shoots while covered by Marshall guard Taevion Kinsey during a mens basketball game at the Nutter Center in Fairborn Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (E.L. Hubbard for the Dayton Daily News)

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Wright State guard Tanner Holden shoots while covered by Marshall guard Taevion Kinsey during a mens basketball game at the Nutter Center in Fairborn Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (E.L. Hubbard for the Dayton Daily News)

Raiders, who won 16 games last season by double digits, open season Tuesday night vs. Lake Erie College

FAIRBORN — Wright State coach Scott Nagy doesn’t want to temper anyone’s enthusiasm about this season. That’s not his style.

He’s on board with those who believe winning a fourth straight Horizon League regular-season title, which is something only Butler has done, is a real possibility.

But he’s also a realist. And he’ll quickly tap the breaks on any suggestion that the Raiders might be able to produce the same one-sided statistics they had in 2020-21 and overpower opponents again — even when those projections come from his own staff.

“Clint was saying, ‘If we get some things straightened out, we can be as good or better than we were last year,’” Nagy said, referring to associate head coach Clint Sargent.

“I said, ‘Clint, the number of games we had last year where we beat people by 30 and 40 points — we CRUSHED people.’ I know I’ve never had a year where I’ve beat people that badly. It’s unfortunate it didn’t end how we wanted it to by going to the NCAA tournament, but I’ve never had a team like that before.”

Even in a truncated season, the Raiders had seven wins by 25 or more points and 16 by double digits while finishing 18-6.

In Nagy’s four previous seasons, playing between 32 and 35 games, they averaged 3.5 wins by 25 or more points and 12 double-figure victories.

They were ninth in the country in offensive efficiency, averaging 1.1 points per possession, and 16th in defensive efficiency, allowing .912.

“Those are dominating statistics. To be in the top 20 nationally in both, holy cow,” Nagy said.

Can they sustain that this season after losing two-time league player of the year Loudon Love?

Nagy knows that’s a high bar, but he isn’t ruling it out.

“I think offensively we could do that again because we know our points per possession were actually better without Loudon than with him (on the floor),” he said. “The main question for me is, can we be the same team defensively? The answer is, yes, we can.

“It’ll be done differently. We’ve got four guys in particular who individually are tremendous defenders” — returning starters Trey Calvin, Tanner Holden, Tim Finke and Grant Basile — “but will they view that as the most important thing over everything else? If they will, we’ll get people shut down. But if they don’t’, we won’t.”

Nagy has said often that he can count on one hand the times his teams have out-rebounded foes by at least 10 and lost.

Last year, the Raiders almost AVERAGED a 10-rebound advantage, finishing with the country’s sixth-best mark at plus-9.3 per game.

That’s where the 6-8, 255-pound Love will be missed most. He’s the program’s all-time leading rebounder and averaged 10.1 last season.

“It’s obviously pretty tough without Loudon. Where are we going to make those up?” Nagy said. “We will. Some guys will make some of those up. But one of the differences is, Loudon was such a tremendous offensive rebounder.”

Love was a master at keeping possessions alive, averaging 3.4 offensive boards per game.

“He was always around the basket. You just couldn’t move him. We don’t have that now,” Nagy said.

The Raiders out-rebounded foes in each of Nagy’s first four years but at much more modest levels: +2.9, +3.0, +2.5 and +2.5 per game.

That’s probably a reasonable goal for this year’s team.

“We have a center now in Grant who’s going to shoot some jump shots. He’s not anywhere near the basket,” the coach said.

“I think the defensive rebounding will be fine. It’s, can we rebound on offense the way we did? That’s going to be pretty difficult, just based on what I know.”

One of their more remarkable statistics from last season was the Raiders’ 14.6 scoring margin — the eighth-best point differential per game in the nation.

That was compiled through all of those blowout victories, including a few by 30 and 40. Nagy isn’t counting on that again this season, and that’s OK.

The Raiders don’t need to demolish teams to accomplish their goals.

They can get there just by winning.

TUESDAY’S GAME

Lake Erie College at Wright State, 7 p.m., ESPN3, ESPN+, 103.9

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