As Wright State coach Scott Nagy was discussing Loudon Love’s performance in the Urbana game last week, it was difficult to tell who he was more upset with — the player or himself.
The good-natured fourth-year junior is hard not to like. And when he’s playing well, he can demolish opponents, as he did in a 27-point, 16-rebound effort at Miami.
But the Illinois native can lose focus during games. And while Nagy admits he needs to exhibit more patience with his players at times, Love will invariably do something that leaves the coach exasperated.
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The 6-foot-8, 260-pound center committed a turnover 54 seconds into the Urbana game, and Nagy immediately replaced him with a sub.
Love went back in and had another turnover in less than two minutes. A frustrated Nagy quickly pulled him again, and the coach gave his star a stern lecture at the scorer’s table as the game resumed.
Though he leads the Raiders in scoring (14.6 per game) and rebounding (9.6), he also has a team-high 12 turnovers, including five against Urbana.
“It needs to end,” Nagy said of Love’s propensity for miscues. “Like tonight, he gets a rebound and takes off with the ball. I don’t want him to do that. That’s why we take him out right away.”
After some reflection, Nagy added: “I feel like in his career, I’ve been very, very hard on him. He’s very conscientious and, when he doesn’t play well, it hurts him greatly. But I have such high expectations of him and believe he can be so good, and when he doesn’t play well, it frustrates me, and I probably don’t help the situation with him.”
The Raiders (4-1) want to run their offense through Love, but that won’t work without more consistency.
“In my opinion, Loudon needs to be the linchpin, and I think he struggles to play great every game,” Nagy said. “He’s a very unselfish guy, and he needs to be more ‘selfish’ and needs to demand the ball and play at a higher level. If he does that, everyone else will play better.”
Even at this late stage, Love actually is still learning the game. He averaged about 10 points as a junior in high school and then sat out his senior year because of a football injury.
He believes having coaches with high standards through the years has helped him develop into an All-Horizon League player.
“I was never a great basketball player starting out in high school, so I had people who were hard on me and wanted me to get better. Coach Nagy, this is my fourth year with him. And I’ve seen other players evolve through having that tough love,” Love said.
“We know that’s the kind of guy he is, and we all love him for it, and that’s why we all choose to play for him.”
The Raiders will need Love at his best to prevail in the Gulf Coast Showcase, a three-day, eight-team mid-major tournament in Estero, Fla., which is 15 miles south of Fort Myers.
After opening with Weber State at 5 p.m. Monday, they’ll play either Murray State or La Salle on Tuesday. Miami, Drake, Northeastern and South Alabama also are in the field.
“It’s one of those tournaments where you can go 3-0 or 0-3 or anywhere in between. It’s a bunch of evenly matched teams,” Nagy said.
The Raiders played in the Cancun Challenge last year, and while they dropped games to Penn State and SMU, Love had a combined 33 points and 24 rebounds and made the all-tourney team.
Though holiday events are meant to be a mix of business and fun, Love said: “We went to Cancun last year, and we didn’t do great. I hope it’s a lot more business than fun this year. And it’s up to us older guys and myself to lead it that way.”
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