Wright State basketball: Raiders still adjusting to offseason personnel changes

Credit: David A. Moodie

Credit: David A. Moodie

FAIRBORN — Scott Nagy’s teams always seem to end up in the thick of the Horizon League race by the end of the season.

Getting to that point, though, has usually required plenty of patience and perseverance.

For the second year in a row, the Raiders have gotten off to a rocky start while adjusting to the departures of star players.

Last season, they lost seven of their first nine games while searching for ways to fill the gaping hole left by league player of the year Loudon Love.

The season had a happy ending, though. The Raiders captured the HL tourney crown and won an NCAA game for the first time.

They posted a promising 5-2 record this year through November — including a road win over traditional power Louisville — which led to the mistaken belief that Tanner Holden and Grant Basile, who transferred to Power-5 schools, wouldn’t be missed.

But those two combined to average 38.5 points and 15.6 rebounds last season. And while the staff responded admirably with transfer-portal additions, the Raiders have hit a lull that probably should’ve been expected all along.

They lost two straight league games at home for their first 0-2 start in 11 years, falling to 5-4 overall.

Robert Morris, picked eighth in the HL preseason poll, raced to an 80-59 win.

Youngstown State, picked fifth, pulled away in the second half for an 88-77 victory.

Double-digit losses in the Nutter Center are rare, and to have two in a four-day span has been tough for coaches and players to digest.

In Nagy’s seven seasons, only four other road teams have posted double-figure wins at Wright State: Akron won, 66-48, last season; Marshall, 80-64, two years ago; Murray State, 80-61, in 2017-18; and Valparaiso, 84-74, in 2016-17.

“There’s no feeling sorry for yourself,” Nagy said. “Things have been pretty good around here. And if you’re going to take the good, you’d better be ready to take the bad.

“I’ve been on both sides of it. It’s not easy, not what we’re used to. But I’ve been on teams that started 0-2 in the league and won the league.”

The Raiders are ranked 275th in the NET ratings (out of 363 teams). They finished 186th last season.

But they’ve won three regular-season league titles and two tourney crowns in the last five years, which is why Nagy sees no reason to panic.

He emphasized after starting the year with a double-overtime loss to Davidson how a season is a journey, not a sprint. And he repeated that theme after the YSU defeat.

“It’s December 4. It’s not January 30,” he said.

He added: “Regardless, it’s basketball. It’s not life and death. Even though it’s very important to me and very important to our players, there has to be room to have perspective — even when things are going good. Sometimes, we get so caught up in our lives that we lose perspective.

“I’m not trying to minimize how this is not fun, because it’s not. It’s just going to be very important that we make sure nobody feels sorry for himself.”

The Raiders clearly know what’s ailing them.

The offense is fine. They’re averaging 79.3 points, which is second in the league, but they’re seventh in defensive scoring, allowing 73.9 points.

That’s on pace for the highest opponent average since giving up 74.3 in 1994-95.

“In our two league games, we’ve not been very good defensively, and that’s what’s got to change for us,” Nagy said.

The YSU loss stung a bit more because of Dwayne Cohill’s dominance.

After playing three seasons at Dayton (missing his junior year with an injury) and never averaging more than 3.5 points, he transferred and has turned into one of the HL’s best guards.

A preseason first-team all-league pick, he scored 43 against the Raiders, including 30 in the second half on 11-of-11 shooting.

In 202 games under Nagy, opposing players have hit 30 or more just eight other times.

Detroit’s Antoine Davis had 48 in 2018-19 and 31 in 2021-22, while Green Bay’s Amari Davis (now a Raider) had 35 and IUPUI’s Marcus Burk 32 in 2020-21.

YSU’s Darius Quisenberry (a Wayne grad) had 41 and Milwaukee’s DeAndre Gholston 31 in 2019-20.

And Green Bay’s Khalil Small had 34 in 2017-18 and YSU’s Cameron Morse 35 in 2016-17.

What Nagy finds more disconcerting is not knowing what to expect each game.

“We’ve been all over the map,” he said. “It’s not very easy for me. We’ve been very inconsistent.

“But that’s the whole point of taking the good with the bad and not over-reacting either way.”


Wright State at Western Kentucky, 7 p.m., ESPN+, 980

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