Wright State basketball: Raiders ready to get season started

FAIRBORN — Wright State coaches and players had 30 practices over the last 42 days — along with a bevy of structured summer workouts — all designed to be as ready as they could be for the start of the season.

And while it may have seemed like they’ve been gearing up for eons, it’s finally here.

The Raiders host Davidson at 7 p.m. Wednesday in a battle between two NCAA tournament teams. And it was a bit of a scheduling coup to get a game against the defending Atlantic 10 regular-season champ in the Nutter Center.

“There’s excitement for sure,” guard Trey Calvin said. “Davidson is a top team. Steph Curry went there.

“We’re not expected to win probably, but I think we can. I think it’ll be a good challenge.”

The Wildcats have played in either the NCAA or NIT six times since joining the A-10 eight years ago. They lost a one-pointer to Michigan State in the NCAA first round as an at-large selection last season.

The reigning Horizon League tourney champs beat Bryant in the First Four in Dayton — the conference’s first NCAA win since Butler made back-to-back national title appearances in 2010 and ‘11 — and then lost by 17 to No. 1 seed Arizona.

“You could feel the excitement (this week),” Calvin said. “In practice, we were all turned up. The season is here, and we’re ready for it.”

Coach Scott Nagy shares his players’ enthusiasm, though he’ll be juggling a mixture of emotions. He’s been a head coach for 28 years, including seven at Wright State, but even someone with his longevity still has to battle the nerves.

“I get them every game at the start of the season,” he said. “Nothing’s changed for me. Sometimes, I wish it would, but it hasn’t.”

That nervousness, though, shouldn’t be interpreted as lacking confidence in his team’s chances of winning.

The Wildcats went 27-7 last season, tying a school record for wins. They finished with a NET ranking of 46 (out of 358 Division-I teams) and were picked sixth in the A-10 preseason poll.

They’re replacing three double-figure scorers: Hyunjung Lee (15.8), Luka Brajkovic (14.4) and Michael Jones (11.8). Brajkovic (7.1) and Lee (6.0) were also the team’s leading rebounders.

First-team all-conference guard Foster Loyer is back after averaging a team-leading 16.2 points. He led the nation in foul shooting at 93.7%.

“They lost a lot, but they got a lot of good transfers in there,” Nagy said. “They’ll be a little like us probably — trying to figure out who they are at the start of the season.”

The Raiders went 22-14 and had a NET rating of 186 last season. Two years ago, they were a lofty 75th nationally.

Asked what he’d most like to see in the opener, Nagy said: “That we don’t overthink things. We try not to give too much information. We’d rather have them react and respond. When you think things through and try to figure things out, that’s when you slow down.

“We gave them SOME information, but, hopefully, not too much. We want them to play hard and be on the attack.”

The Wildcats are starting a new era after the retirement of 72-year-old Bob McKillop, who notched a 634-380 record in 33 years as coach.

He was replaced by his son, Matt, who has been on the staff since 2008.

The elder McKillop was the NABC national coach of the year in 2008 and a 10-time league coach of the year, winning it eight times in the Southern Conference and twice in the A-10, including last season.

Curry, a two-time NBA MVP and four-time NBA champ, played for McKillop from 2006-09. The Wilcats reached the Elite Eight in ‘09 by beating Gonzaga, Georgetown and Wisconsin.

Curry left school after his junior year and became the seventh overall pick in the draft. The school retired his jersey No. 30 last summer after he finished his degree in May.

Nagy expects Matt McKillop to run the same system that’s been working so well.

“It’ll change some because his personality is different, but I don’t think that’ll change a ton,” he said.

Nagy has been coy about his starting lineup, though he almost certainly will find spots for the perimeter trio of Tim Finke, Amari Davis and Calvin.

“We’ll probably play ‘small’ quite a bit,” he said, meaning perhaps another guard in the lineup.

“There will be challenges with that, but there will be challenges for the other team as well.”


Davidson at Wright State, 7 p.m., ESPN+, 980

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