Wright State returned its top three players from last season in Loudon Love, Bill Wampler and Cole Gentry, and that trio will have nights when they’ll need to carry the scoring load.
The 96-77 win over Central State, in Tuesday night’s season opener at the Nutter Center wasn’t one of them.
The Division-II team was the perfect opponent for coach Scott Nagy to give his ballyhooed bench a chance to shine, and they didn’t disappoint.
Freshman Tanner Holden had 21 points on 10-of-16 shooting with four dunks. Sophomore Skyelar Potter had 19 points and was perfect from the field — including 5 of 5 on 3’s — until missing a trey with 68 seconds left.
Two other freshmen, Grant Basile (six points and five rebounds) and Trey Calvin (three points), also saw action in the first eight minutes.
“Those guys played with a lot of energy all night and helped us get over the hump in the first half,” said Gentry, who had 13 points and five assists.
“That’s something we didn’t have the last three years. This year, we have a lot of good players coming off the bench. It should help us keep guys fresh, and it’ll be harder to scout us because we play a lot of guys.”
There’s also an iron-sharpening-iron aspect to a deep bench.
“Every practice, you have to bring it,” Gentry said. “There’s a lot of guys who can play, and you can’t take a practice off.”
Five things we learned:
RAGGED START: The Raiders trailed by seven early in the game, but they tied it, 17-17, at 12:50 and scored 10 straight points after that.
Still, coach Scott Nagy was perturbed by defensive lapses, especially allowing freshman guard Darweshi Hunter to score 35 points on 13-of-21 shooting.
“We’ve got to be way better guarding,” he said. “We had a freshman get 35 on us, which bothers the heck out of me. I wish it would bother our guys a little more.”
TAKE A SEAT: Center Loudon Love, a first-team All-Horizon League pick, was whistled for two fouls and played just eight minutes in the first half. He scored his first points on an inside bucket at 19:25 of the second half and finished with nine.
Asked about the quick hook on Love, Nagy said: “He got two fouls. And defensively, he wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing. Why would we put you in? We’ll play other guys. We’ll play smaller. We’ll guard a little better. He needs to be more consistent for us for sure.”
COUGHING IT UP: The Raiders were 55th out of 351 D-I teams in turnovers last season with a spiffy 11.5 average, but they had 10 in the first half against Central State and 16 overall.
That’s been a recurring theme.
“We turned it over quite a bit in our scrimmages (against Eastern Kentucky and Ball State). We turned it over in Italy. And we’ve turned it over in practice,” Nagy said.
“I have to get that figured out because I feel like we’re going to shoot a better percentage this year, and if we can cut our turnovers down, it’s going to be worth six to eight points.”
STARTING FIVE: There was some mystery about who would start alongside Gentry, Love and Wampler. Nagy went with Jaylon Hall, who sat out all but one game last season with a shoulder injury, and Jordan Ash, a grad transfer from Northwestern.
Hall had 11 points and Ash three.
“It really doesn’t matter (who starts). I know that’s important to people, but if kids can get past their egos and just do their jobs, they’re going to play a lot of minutes for us,” Nagy said.
COMING UP: The Raiders play five of their eight November games away from home (they load up on home games in December), beginning with a trip to Miami at 2 p.m. Saturday.
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