Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Wright State Preview

While the Falcon Nation awaits the evening football contest with our hated rivals, there is the business of the home men's basketball opener.  This is a tough one.  Obviously, if BG could have scheduled the game on another day they would have, so they are trying to make it into a double header, starting at the Stroh, boarding buses and ending at the Glass Bowl.

The Falcons open at home with Wright State.  BG has played the Raiders the last two seasons, with both teams winning their home games.  Last year, Wright State won 46-43, invoking memories of basketball in the 1920s.

Wright State has been a very solid program.  They have 20 wins in each of the last two years and have failed to make the Big Dance by losing unexpectedly in the Horizon tournament.  Now, that record was established in the Horizon League, and resulted in final RPIs of 128 and 166.  Both BG games were competitive with them.

The Raiders also lost all 5 of their starters from last year.  They were picked by Blue Ribbon to be 3rd and by their own poll to be 5th. It also wasn't a great off-season.  Beyond graduation, leading returning scorer JT Yoho is suspended for a DUI and has not played this year.  Tavares Sledge, who averaged 12 minutes a game last year was dismissed in the off-season.  And Kendall Griffen, who played 25 minutes last year, is battling a concussion and sounds questionable for tomorrow's game.

Wright State is a depth based team.  Donlon substitutes more than a hockey coach.  They played 10 guys anaverage of 10 minutes per game or more last year and an 11th had 9 minutes.  Even with that, the Raiders could be down 8 of those 11 players when they arrive at the Stroh.

Which is why it was kind of a surprise that the Raiders opened up with a 73-70 win over Belmont.  It might not be the normal Belmont team, but that's still a notable win until we learn more.   (Note:  Howell was suspended for that game but will be back for BG, so they were down yet another guy).

The first thing Donlon did was allow some guys to play some minutes.  He ran an 8-man rotation and four players played 33 minutes or more.

Chrirshawn Hopkins lead them with 21 points on 8 of 18 shooting.  He also added 5 rebounds. Reggie Arcenaux added 15 points and 4 assists.

Other contributors were new to the program.  Note Michael Karena, from New Zealand and a JC transfer.  Karena is 6'10" and had 11 points in 4 rebounds before fouling out...in 15 minutes.  Grant Benzinger is a FR who had 8 points in 33 minutes (3 of 12 shooting) and JC transfer Joe Thomasson played 34 relatively unproductive minutes.

For scoring 73 points, Wright State did not shoot well, only going 50%/21%.  They only made 64% of the free throws and had 14 turnovers.  In fact, Belmont shot better (47% and 20%).  The difference in the game appears to be that Belmont had 21 turnovers, and those 7 possessions made the difference.  Also, Wright State was good when they needed to be, closing the game on a 7-0 to turn defeat into victory.

Note for BG people...Parker Ernsthausen from BG is with the Raiders but apparently red-shirting this year.

After the game with Belmont, they hosted Ohio Dominican, a game they won by 12 and probably felt underwhelmed about that.

I would say that while Wright State is clearly undermanned right now and I would expect BG has a good shot at winning the game, the Raiders are a team that is used to winning and that can serve them well if the game is close.  Two keys would be whether Griffen plays and if Karena can stay on the court.

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