Wright State basketball: Raiders two new starters off to strong start

Wright State guard Tim Finke shoots against Marshall during a mens basketball game at the Nutter Center in Fairborn Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (E.L. Hubbard for the Dayton Daily News)
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Wright State guard Tim Finke shoots against Marshall during a mens basketball game at the Nutter Center in Fairborn Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (E.L. Hubbard for the Dayton Daily News)

FAIRBORN -- Playing a four-guard lineup puts Wright State’s opponents in a quandary defensively. If foes don’t go to a smaller starting five, they could end up surrendering far too many 3-pointers to a team that’s shown it’s adept at hitting them.

But it’s a risk for the Raiders, too. While they have the best rebounder in the Horizon League in center Loudon Love, who needs four more to set the program record for career boards just two games into his senior year, he can’t do it all himself.

That’s why coach Nagy has been preaching to his perimeter players about the importance of pounding the glass, and the bouncy Tim Finke certainly has taken that message to heart.

Explore'Locked in' Wright State bounces back

The 6-foot-6 sophomore, who sat out last season after transferring from Grand Canyon, posted a double-double against Miami on Saturday, getting 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Though it’s early, he’s tied for fourth in the league with an 8.0 rebound average.

“It’s all a mindset, honestly. It’s trying to be the toughest guy out there. I think I have a motor where I just keep going,” said Finke (pronounced FINK-ee).

“That’s something I’m going to try to do every game, try to out-work my opponents. When they get tired, I sense that. And I’m going to keep going and try to push past that point. That’s part of my game where I can really excel.”

His previous career high for rebounds was nine as a freshman against Missouri-Kansas City (which is coached by Billy Donlon, who Nagy replaced at Wright State). He also averaged 9.2 in high school while being rated as the No. 2 recruit in Illinois by ESPN.com.

He’s one of two new starters along with point guard Trey Calvin. They’ve had to replace a couple of all-league picks in Bill Wampler and Cole Gentry. And while there hasn’t been any drop-off so far, there’s nothing similar about their playing styles.

“Almost everyone I talk to wants to compare Tim to Bill — because they’re about the same size. But they’re just two different people, two different players,” Nagy said.

Wampler was almost strictly a catch-and-shoot player, and Nagy pointed out: “Tim is incredibly physical, not afraid of anybody. He chases the ball and is tough. He’s just a really good defender and good rebounder.”

Though Gentry was the quintessential point guard, content just to distribute the ball, Calvin is an aggressive offensive player and is the Raiders’ leading scorer with a 16.0 average.

Wright State guard Trey Calvin is covered by Marshall guard Taevion Kinsey during a mens basketball game at the Nutter Center in Fairborn Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (E.L. Hubbard for the Dayton Daily News)
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Wright State guard Trey Calvin is covered by Marshall guard Taevion Kinsey during a mens basketball game at the Nutter Center in Fairborn Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (E.L. Hubbard for the Dayton Daily News)

The 6-foot sophomore has made 7 of 14 3′s, and his 50% clip is second in the conference. He’s also taken 27 shots (making 11), which is six more attempts than the second-highest total on the team.

But like Gentry, he’s also been conscientious with the ball, having committed just two turnovers in 72 minutes.

“I’m really, really pleased with Trey and how he’s playing,” Nagy said. “He’s playing with a lot of confidence offensively, but the things you don’t see is how good he is defensively.”

Miami’s starting guards, Dae Dae Grant and Mekhi Lairy, were a combined 1 of 19 from the field in the Raiders’ 71-47 win.

“He’s had a really good preseason,” Finke said of Calvin. “Offensively, he’s taken a big leap in his game and his confidence. You can tell it’s at a whole new level this year.

“He’s been working a ton, clearly. I’m really proud of the way he’s playing, hitting shots and just being super confident. When he’s doing that, we’re able to play a lot more freely, just knowing he can lead us that way.”

Finke relishes playing beside Calvin each game.

Then again, after sitting out all of last season, he’s just happy to be playing at all.

“It feels awesome. I missed the competitiveness that just comes from playing games,” he said.

“It felt good focusing on defense and crashing the boards (against Miami). If I can keep doing that, I know those are areas where I can help the team out, giving us a little spark and energy.”

SUNDAY’S GAME

Wright State at Bowling Green, Noon, ESPN3, ESPN+, 106.5