Wright State Continues to Be Surprise Team

I admit it. Even after starting 5-1 in H-League play, I still did not think Wright State was a contender as their schedule was not very tough. In fact, they could have won a couple more games against the middle or lower rung teams, and I still would have not believed. But after the Raider’s 73-62 victory over undisputed #1 Valparaiso on Friday night, Wright State (6-1 in Horizon League) finally deserves their just credit. Now I have not done a complete 180 on this team, and they are still not NCAA Tourney bound in my eyes. But they have positioned themselves to have a great opportunity for that coveted #2 spot in the regular season standings (or maybe even #1?). Let’s be clear that Valpo is still the best team in this league, and whoever is #2 is still miles behind them. But the Raiders are starting to lead the pack of teams on the Crusaders tail. Looking at the stats, Wright State is not a very good team offensively. But they are able to stay in games because they are very good defensively and can control the pace of play to be slower. They are hard to scout for because they are so balanced and several players could have a big game on any given night. Maybe one day it is the dual inside and outside scoring threat of JT Yoho, whereas another day it could be Mark Alstork nailing three’s or Joe Thomasson converting at the free throw line. Five players average between 8.8 and 12.4 points per game. But what has been most impressive is how Wright State finished in their last two games. Against Detroit Mercy, they were down 9 points with under five minutes left and came back to win in improbable fashion. Against Valpo, the Raiders were down a point with under four minutes left and dominated down the stretch. Good teams give themselves chances to win in the majority of their games. Great teams know how to finish in those games consistently. Wright State is clearly the biggest surprise of this young Horizon League season. They were picked eighth  in my initial Upper-Hand Rankings, and moved up to sixth in my most recent rankings. Billy Donlon has to be the favorite for H-League Coach of the Year now, with Linc Darner and Bryce Drew deserving consideration too. Playing that somewhat tough non-conference schedule looks to be paying off for Wright State. What is most important is that they seem to be improving as the season goes on, whereas a team like Oakland is on the downward trend. Is Wright State fully legit? Only time will tell. For now, they are a team to be taken very seriously. If they continue with their improving play into March, their opponents at Joe Louis Arena better watch out!

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4 Responses to Wright State Continues to Be Surprise Team

  1. Raider Doug says:

    Tim, I was introduced to your site by a Titan friend, really enjoy it. Wright State class of 75 living in the Detroit area, and always hungry for Raider info. Really pleased with WSU play since the week before Christmas, starts with defense, playing shorter rotation and not fouling as much, shooting better and not going through long stretches where we can’t score. I am still holding my breath, but WSU message boards are finally/grudgingly starting to recognize the good play. I just hope we can avoid injuries that wrecked last year, get more play from our younger big guys and consistently play the way we are capable. Keep up the good work, I will keep following.


    • Tim says:

      Hi Doug. Thanks so much for reading. I will definitely try to work in more Raider content, especially that they are playing so well. Yeah, it seems like Wright State has a good mix of youth and experience, and that they play really well together. Continuity is an underrated component of teams, especially with a lot of egos in college basketball. Hopefully the injury bug does not bite them this year either. This team is a great example of how the conference slate can truly be like a new season for some teams.


  2. Don Seeko says:

    This is a big weekend for Wright State hitting the road. Friday at OU and Sunday at UDM. RodentDoug, I mean RaiderDoug, will either be flying high or will glide back to some reality.


  3. Tim says:

    Lol. Yeah, this is the kind of weekend where some teams will finally start to separate themselves, and others will fall behind too far to catch up.


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