Wright State basketball: Raiders look to get on track at Thanksgiving week tourney

Credit: Joseph R. Craven

Credit: Joseph R. Craven

FAIRBORN — Wright State plays in holiday tournaments each season, usually picking places that have plenty of palm trees and sunshine and, ideally, are within walking distance of a beach.

Players and their families love them. And they’re an easy way to bolster the schedule with attractive games.

But after 29 years as a head coach and 36 in the business, Scott Nagy doesn’t get revved up about going to desirable locales. What he looks forward to most is sitting in a courtside seat and trying to outwit an opponent.

“If we went to the North Pole or where you thought was the greatest place weather-wise, just personally, it doesn’t matter to me. It’s not a vacation,” he said.

The Raiders will play three games in the 11th annual Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Fla., which is tucked between Naples and Fort Myers near Sanibel Island.

They face Louisiana at 5 p.m. Monday. The Ragin’ Cajuns won 26 games last season and narrowly lost to Tennessee in an NCAA first-round game, falling 58-55 after trailing by 18 with 11 minutes to go.

Wright State will face either Hofstra or Buffalo on Tuesday.

Iona, High Point, Long Beach State and Illinois State play on the other side of the bracket.

“My wife (Jamie) doesn’t even go anymore because she knows it’s not going to be a vacation. It’s a good experience for the players. Personally, I’ve had the experiences, so I don’t need it. I’d rather be playing at home,” Nagy said.

The Raiders played in the Gulf Coast Showcase in 2019 and went 2-1, beating Weber State and the Miami RedHawks and losing to La Salle.

They went 2-1 in the Vegas 4 event last year, knocking off Weber State and Abilene Christian and losing to champion CSU Bakersfield.

They went 0-3 at the 2021 Naples Invitational, falling to George Washington, James Madison and Long Beach State.

In 2018, they ventured to Cancun, Mexico, and lost to Penn State and SMU.

They hosted their own event in Nagy’s first two years in 2016 and ‘17 and went unbeaten each time.

The Ragin’ Cajuns were picked to finish fifth in the Sun Belt Conference. James Madison topped the poll, followed by Appalachian State, Old Dominion and Southern Miss.

Jordan Brown, who averaged 19.3 points and 8.6 rebounds for Louisiana last season, transferred to Memphis.

But Themus Fulks, a preseason all-league pick, is back. He led the Sun Belt in assists (6.0) and is the team’s leading returning scorer (9.2).

He scored 23 in the league tourney final win over South Alabama last year.

Louisiana (2-1) beat Youngstown State in their home opener, 72-62, and lost at Toledo, 87-78.

The Raiders lost to the Rockets at home, 78-77.

“We know they’re good,” Nagy said. “They had Toledo beat on their home floor. They had them down 11 with 10 minutes to go. And they whipped Youngstown.

“It might be the best team in the field.”

Iona also reached the NCAA tourney last season, while Hofstra won the Coastal Athletic Assocation regular-season title and played in the NIT.

Though Nagy and the players may look at the trip differently, they do have a common goal: Being tourney champs.

But Nagy said: “There’s just the one game ahead of us — and that’s all we’re thinking about. If you try to think of winning the whole thing, it can get a little daunting.”


Wright State vs. Louisiana in Gulf Coast Showcase, 5 p.m., 101.5, 1410

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