Wright State basketball: Rebounding better but still not where Nagy wants it

Credit: Joseph R. Craven

Credit: Joseph R. Craven

FAIRBORN — Wright State coach Scott Nagy isn’t doing anything different. His team is ranked 349th nationally in defensive efficiency, but he’s had squads that ended up being rated 12th and 16th in the country.

That’s why he believes the Raiders can at least reach the respectable range on the defensive end before the season is over, even if the evidence doesn’t exactly support that.

“We’re not giving up on these kids. I still think they can be a good defensive team, and I’m just going to keep pressing into it,” he said.

Another shortcoming he’s passionate about fixing is rebounding, and that’s an area that’s starting to show signs of progress.

The Raiders have a plus-1.9 rebound margin per game, which is the second worst in Nagy’s tenure. But they’ve out-rebounded their last four foes by a combined 145-109.

“We’re getting closer,” Nagy said.

Their last game against Robert Morris was the most encouraging yet. They out-rebounded the Colonials by 10 and held them to four offensive boards, far below their league-leading 13.7 average.

Everyone contributed. Even point guard Trey Calvin had five.

“That’s what we need. We’ve needed our guards to rebound and our other guys to block out. And they did that,” Nagy said.

Not that he still doesn’t get exasperated.

Brandon Noel, a 6-foot-8 sophomore, was third in the league with an 8.7 average last season, but that’s dipped to 7.4 this year.

A.J. Braun, a 6-9 junior, is averaging a modest 6.0 per game.

And while 6-6 Tanner Holden had a 10-rebound game against Oakland, his 6.3 average is his lowest in four years as a Raider.

“There’s only so many drills and so many things I can say. I tell the players this all the time: It’s either you don’t understand or you don’t care like you should. At some point, that’s what it comes down to,” Nagy said.

“I speak for myself, too. My wife could say the same thing to me: Either you don’t understand or you don’t care. There’s some things I need to change.”

The Raiders are 146th nationally in rebound margin, which isn’t awful but not up to their typical standards.

They were sixth nationally with a plus-9.3 margin in 2020-21 when Loudon Love was patrolling the middle.

“We’re at the end of the season, and it needs to be hardly me even talking. The players should be running the whole thing,” Nagy said.

He may need to be more vocal than he’d like when the Raiders visit Detroit Mercy on Thursday.

The Titans are a dreary 1-27 and could tie the Division-I record for losses in a season.

Towson holds the mark by going 1-31 in 2011-12. Grambling has the next-most L’s by going 1-30 in 1999-2000.

The Titans are 359th out of 362 teams in the NET ratings and have three games left before the Horizon League tourney.

No team has won fewer than three games in the history of the league, which traces its roots to 1979-80.

The worst seasons were turned in by Green Bay (3-29 last year), IUPUI (3-26 in 2021-22) and Milwaukee (3-24 in 1997-98).

The Titans have showed some signs of life this month, beating IUPUI, 81-66, and giving Wright State scare at the Nutter Center.

They cut a 22-point deficit to three with two minutes to go before losing, 92-85.

The Raiders are 15-12 overall and 10-6 in the league, and it’s a must-win game if they want to stay in the title hunt, which means Nagy will be battling his nerves as usual.

“They ALL worry me,” he said of Raider foes. “That’s the problem. They don’t all worry my players the same. And sometimes it doesn’t matter what I say.”


Wright State at Detroit Mercy, 7 p.m., ESPN+, 101.5, 1410

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