On April 4, 2016, Scott Nagy became the ninth head coach to lead the Wright State University men's basketball program. After 21 years at South Dakota State, it was hard to fully anticipate and plan for the magnitude of change – both personal and professional – that lied ahead. Now, eleven months and one full season later, the path forward is a bit more clear to Nagy and his staff, and the future is bright for the Raiders. With a fan-friendly style of play, and a focus on the overall development of the student-athlete, there’s a lot to look forward to for fans.
Here is a look back at some of the highlights of the 2016-17, and a brief preview of the coming months.
*20 wins during the regular season for the first time since 2008. Nagy is the second WSU coach in the Division I era to start his stint with 20 wins. Current Clemson coach Brad Brownell won 23 games in 2007, advancing to the NCAA Tournament.
* Finished the season with an RPI of 115, the best since Brad Brownell’s final year in 2010.
*Wright State won the Men vs Cancer Classic in November. This was the first time that the Raiders hosted a multi-team tournament in a round-robin format.
*Set new mark with 285 threes made in a season and 784 attempts, topping last year’s record setting year of 256 and 687.
*With a new, up-tempo style, the team averaged 77.0 points per game, a significant increase over the 68.5 points last year. This figure also represented the most since 1992-93 when they averaged 89.1 points.
*The Raiders shot .764 from the free throw line, besting the previous record of .750 that had stood since 1975-76. The .764 ranks 21st in the nation in team free-threw percentage.
*Wright State played half of its 32 games against 2017 post-season tournament teams, winning seven.
*Junior guard Grant Benzinger made 78 treys, good for the fourth best season in WSU history. He has 199 for his career, breaking the school record of 197, which originally was set in 1994 by Andy Holderman and later tied by Todd Brown in 2010.
*From the free throw line, Benzinger led the way at .848 (67 of 79), while Mark Alstork shot .846, breaking the single-season school record with 176 (of 208). Vernard Hollins set the previous mark of 160 in 2003-04.
*Justin Mitchell recorded the third triple-double in school history with 14 points, 11 rebounds a career-high 10 assists in a win against Green Bay on Feb. 11.
*Mitchell’s 267 rebounds this year are fourth most on the school’s single-season list. His 8.3 rebounds per game was the most since Thad Burton’s 10.9 in 1998.
*Alstork became the first Raider to be named to the Horizon League’s first team since Vaughn Duggins earned the honor in 2011.
*Alstork collected 608 points, making him the second all-time junior scorer. He had 17 games where he scored 20-plus points.
*Alstork was twice named the Horizon League Player of the Week to start the season. The first was after he scored 30 points in the win at Southern Illinois to open the season. The second came just one week later as he scored 39 points against Toledo.
*Benzinger was named the MVP of the Men vs Cancer Classic. Steven Davis and Mark Alstork were also named to the All-Tournament Team.
*Davis had two monstrous dunks featured on ESPN’s Top Ten Plays.
Off the Court
*Eight players were honored at the Annual Student-Athlete Recognition Night with grade point averages of 3.0 or better, and two were named to the Horizon League Academic Honor Roll, which recognizes student-athletes who have a cumulative grade point average of 3.20 or above with at least three semesters at the same institution.
*Steven Davis and Mike La Tulip are currently enrolled in WSU graduate programs after receiving degrees.
*The team has posted nearly 100 hours at seven community service projects around town, an increase of almost 20 from last year.
*Wright State led the league in attendance for the fifth year in a row at 4,033 per game.
*Unveiled a new court design that features an oversized Raider logo at mid-court, a green semi-transparent border, “Raiders” on the baseline and the state of Ohio in each corner with a small wolf paw denoting our location.
*Debuted the new Raider Pub at the open end of the arena floor. The Pub served as a gathering spot for fans before the game and at halftime, and offered specialty foods and a variety of craft beers.
Next season, the Raiders will add a big body at center in Loudon Love, a 6-foot-9, 300-pound freshman who redshirted this season. Everett Winchester, a 6-6 guard, also redshirted as a freshman.
Competing for the point guard role will be November signee Tyler Mitchell, from Kings High School, and Cole Gentry, a freshman transfer from South Dakota State who will be eligible in late December.
“Loudon and Everett have both benefitted greatly from their redshirt season. They’ve improved their fitness and strength, and have worked at improving their overall game. We expect them to be major contributors for us next season,” said Nagy. “Tyler and Cole are two kids that have a tremendous opportunity to fill an area of need for our team at the point guard position.”
Nagy was generally pleased with year one, but knows there’s a lot of work to be done. “I like where we are, but the truth is that everyone on our team – and the coaching staff – has to be 100% committed to getting better in the off-season to get to where we want to be, which is winning a league championship and playing in the NCAA tournament.”
With the transition year now in the rear-view mirror, some of the best facilities in the Horizon League and the Midwest and a supportive University, the arrow is pointing up for the Wright State basketball program.