Wright State coach Scott Nagy is taking the program to new heights — exactly what the school hoped he’d do when it lured him away from South Dakota State with a hefty five-year, $2.5 million contract.
The Raiders, who are 24-6 overall and 14-2 in the Horizon League, can break their single-season records in 33 years in Division I for road and league wins and tie their mark for overall victories by beating Northern Kentucky on Friday.
They’re 8-3 in true road games. They went 8-7 in two of Nagy’s first three seasons and also finished 8-7 in 2012-13 when Billy Donlon was coach.
They’re best league record in 29 years of conference play is 14-4 in 2017-18. That’s the year they reached their all-time high in total victories, going 25-10.
They also can win their first outright conference crown by beating the Norse (21-8, 13-4).
“Certainly, we hope to do even more,” Nagy said. “But you have to give credit to our players and our coaching staff. You don’t win a lot of games without good players, and my assistants have brought in the kind of players we want to coach.”
Looking ahead: The top seed in the league tourney — and guaranteed spot in the NIT — is up for grabs in the Wright State-NKU game.
If the Raiders and the Norse end up co-champs, they’d be 1-1 in their head-to-head matchup, and the top seed would be determined by how they fared against the third seed. If that doesn’t do it, the league would go down the standings until the tie is broken.
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Going into Thursday night’s games, Youngstown State, Green Bay and UIC all were tied for third at 9-7. The Raiders split their season series against those three, while the Norse split with UIC but swept the other two.
Time off: The Raiders will have 10 days between the end of the regular season and their first game in the conference tournament. The first round starts Tuesday at campus sites, but they earned a double bye into the semifinals March 9 at Indiana Farmers Coliseum, which is IUPUI’s home court.
They also had five days off before facing NKU, giving them one game over a 16-day span.
“If you listen to some people, they say, ‘Oh, I’d rather keep playing.’ But I think we can rest guys’ bodies and minds and get them healthy,” Nagy said. “We’re pretty healthy, but they could use the rest for sure. When it’s time to play, I don’t see any reason why we can’t play hard and play well.”
Deep threat: Opponents look at Tanner Holden’s free-throw percentage and think they can give him room on the perimeter. Big mistake.
The 6-foot-6 freshman, who is averaging 12.3 points and 6.6 rebounds, is hitting only 62.8% on foul shots but 43.3 on 3’s.
“He doesn’t shoot a lot of them, but he takes exactly the right ones,” Nagy said. “A lot of people help off of him because he doesn’t take a lot. But he’s shooting an incredible percentage.”
Gaining confidence: Loudon Love spent extra time after practice Tuesday on free throws, not leaving the gym until he made 10 in a row.
His diligence is paying off. He’s 42 of 57 in his last seven games after going 45 of 91 in his first 16. He’s shooting 65.5% after hitting 54.1 as a freshman and 62.5 last season.
“He puts a lot of time in, and he’s probably relaxed a little more,” Nagy said.
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