If Wright State’s season ever ends and there’s a vote for team MVP, it will be a tough call. Whoever makes that decision would be better off picking a name by throwing a dart at the roster.
In junior forward AJ Pacher’s mind, however, there’s no question who the best dodgeball player on the team is. Before they started play in the College Basketball Invitational last week, the players faced off against their coaches in a spirited game of dodgeball. The players won, Pacher said, and he was voted MVP — at least that’s what he claimed.
“Back at Vandalia Butler, we played dodgeball a lot in senior gym,” he said. “I credit my former high school.”
Pacher said past Wright State teams had played dodgeball against the coaches.
“We told them if we were going to do this tournament, we definitely were going to play dodgeball,” he said. “There were a couple of good hits. I won’t say who, but one coach got hit in the face by a certain player — me.”
It would be a stretch to say the Raiders are riding the momentum of that dodgeball win, but something’s got into them in the past week. They routed Tulsa, of Conference USA, 72-52 last Wednesday and then beat Richmond, of the Atlantic 10, 57-51 on Monday. Wednesday at 9 p.m., Wright State hosts Santa Clara, of the West Coast Conference, in the CBI semifinals.
A victory would give the Raiders (23-12) their first 24-win season since they moved to Division I in 1987. They have already played more games than any team in school history.
“It just flies by really,” Pacher said. “It seems like yesterday we were playing in Idaho. It doesn’t seem like we’ve played 36 games. It’s good. I think we’re on a roll right now. It’s going to be fun to play here again on Wednesday.”
Santa Clara (23-11) bused from Purdue, where it won 86-83 on Monday, to Fairborn on Tuesday. It beat Vermont 77-67 in the first round at home. Wright State is the only school of the four remaining to have hosted in the first three rounds. That fact and the Raiders’ depth could be an advantage this deep in the tournament.
Wright State will still have to play its best offensive game tonight. Santa Clara ranks 33rd in the country with 74.1 points per game.
“I think we’re going to have to score a little more than 58 or 60 to win,” WSU coach Billy Donlon said. “We’ve also got to do a good job of defending the dribble. Their ability to dribble drive you leads to their 3s.”
Santa Clara at Wright State, 9 p.m., 1003, AXS TV