Wright State’s Nagy on upcoming season: ‘We have to figure out a way to make the best of this’

Wright State University head men’s basketball coach Scott Nagy stands on the sideline during the first half of their game against Miami University at the Nutter Center at Wright State University in Fairborn. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

FAIRBORN -- Wright State basketball coach Scott Nagy probably wouldn’t have reached 500 career wins without an ample amount of inner drive, but anyone who has that trait wishes it came with an on/off switch.

While his high standards have lifted the Raiders to new heights — two of the program’s three regular-season league crowns have come in the last three years — his constant focus on improvement often prevents him from savoring victories.

But though his tendency is to find a dark cloud in every silver lining, he refuses to dwell on the negative when it comes to Covid-19 and the disruption it’s had on his professional life. He’s ready to embrace the challenges ahead, and he wants his players have the same mindset.

“It’s been an unusual time, without question. It has been a lot of waiting,” he said. “Some of it’s been good. I’ve been home a lot. I’ve been with my family, which I’ve enjoyed. I became a grandpa, which is awesome.”

Son Nick and wife Jordan welcomed a girl, Riley, into the world during the pandemic.

“There’s been some neat things and some tough things. But I’ve been talking to the players about how we’re no different than anyone else. We have to figure out a way to make the best of this. Everybody else does, too,” Nagy said.

“The less time we spend complaining about it — and the more we spend doing what we’re supposed to do — that’s what will give us the best chance of having a good season. That has to be the focus. It’s been a strange year. Let’s figure out how to get through it and have a great year.”

The Raiders' year — their fifth under Nagy and his 26th overall — officially begins Wednesday with the first of 30 preseason practices, although the team has been staging regular workouts since July, including full intrasquad scrimmages.

The NCAA pushed back the start of the men’s and women’s seasons two weeks to Nov. 25, allowing teams to play a maximum of 27 games while requiring a minimum of 13 for NCAA tourney consideration.

Many top programs — including Duke, Kentucky and Kansas State — have already announced they’ll be hosting multi-team events (MTE’s) in addition to their conference schedules. And while Nagy isn’t sure yet what the Horizon League will do, he’s confident the Raiders will see plenty of action in 2020-21.

“The conference schedule is being voted on now, and we’ll know something pretty soon. We’ve got a pretty good idea what it’s going to look like,” Nagy said, adding that in addition to a full array of league games, the season will conclude with the conference tournament.

“For the non-conference, everybody in the country is scrambling to put that together. My assistant (Clint Sargent) is working hard on that. It’s weird to not know what your schedule is so close to the season. It’s a real bizarre deal.”

Of course, the ability to take the floor each game will depend on how well teams are managing the virus. But the NCAA delayed the launch of the season to the day before Thanksgiving because most schools will be starting their winter breaks, creating at least a temporary bubble on campus.

All college basketball players and team personnel will be tested three times per week beginning Nov. 18.

“People are going to play between 13 and 27 games. You don’t know, with games cancelled, how much you’re going to end up with,” Nagy said.

The Raiders began the summer with eight hours of workouts per week with coaches, four in the gym and four devoted to strength and conditioning.

They went to 12 hours on Sept. 21 and currently can have as many as 20 per week.

“When we first started in July, we were in groups. Guys who lived together off campus practiced together, so if anybody came down with the virus, then we just shut that group down,” Nagy said. "But you get to the point where you have to go 5 on 5, so you can have everyone together.

“At first, (the players) had to go with masks on, which was a little awkward. But still, it was better than others — some people weren’t even allowed to go. We were very pleased our administration allowed us in the building to get going. We got to the point where the players could go with masks off and coaches with masks on, and that’s where we are now.”

Nagy didn’t want to say how many positive tests the team has had. He also indicated the plan during the season will be to keep that in house.

Players will be allowed to opt out this year, either because they don’t feel safe or because of the potential for a truncated season.

For football, the NCAA isn’t counting this season toward a players' four years of eligibility. A vote on what to do with basketball could come as early as this week.

“If they don’t do a blanket deal where they say it won’t count, I think — particularly at our level — there’s going to be a lot of people who are going to want to sit out,” Nagy said. "At the high majors, a lot of those kids don’t think they’re going to be there four years anyway, so they’re going to worry less about it. The kids at our level may not want to burn a year on this.

“At this point, there’s just a lot of unknowns.”

In Other News