- Jay Morrison Staff Writer
The first thing the Wright State players did as a team after having their eight-game winning streak snapped Saturday at Milwaukee was sit down and watch a horror flick.
“They gave us Sunday off and then we came in Monday and watched the game film, and it was definitely hard to watch because we knew we didn’t play well and we lacked energy,” freshman center Loudon Love said. “If you want to be great, you have to give energy and effort all the time. And watching yourself not do it is a hard feeling.”
It’s a feeling the Raiders (15-6, 7-1 Horizon League) will try to avoid this weekend when they play two home games in a span of 43 hours, beginning tonight against Detroit Mercy (6-16, 2-6) as they try to maintain their hold on first place.
“When you start to win consistently, sometimes it doesn’t feel good,” WSU coach Scott Nagy said. “It’s starts to become a situation of ‘you didn’t win by enough’ or ‘you didn’t play well but you still won.’ So you don’t feel the gratification of winning.
“But when you lose, you get reminded real quickly how good winning is,” he added. “To me, that’s the only good thing about losing. It reminds you how you want to feel. It just provides some focus.”
Friday’s game marks the start of the second half of the conference season when the Raiders will be facing seven teams out for revenge. WSU beat the Titans 80-73 in a game it led by as many as 18 at Calilhan Hall on Jan. 5.
“Once you’ve beaten a team, you feel like they have a little bit of the upper hand in terms of motivation,” Nagy said.
But after playing eight of the last 11 on the road, the Raiders will have the edge of playing at home, where they will be for six of the next eight games, including a 2 p.m. game Sunday against preseason league favorite Oakland.
With the team’s run of success and several promotions planned – including 5,000 free T-shirts and a halftime performance by the ZOOperstars – WSU is expecting its biggest crowd of the year Friday night.
“It’s certainly what we want,” said Nagy, who will coach the game barefoot to raise awareness for Samaritan’s Feet . “If you can win consistently, you hope that people will come in and want to watch that and appreciate that good basketball. It should help our players.”
While the Raiders will welcome any additional energy the crowd can provide, at least one of the players wasn’t waiting around until Friday.
Love said the lesson of needing constant energy and effort was driven home early in Wednesday’s practice.
“Energy and hustle is what we need, and (Wednesday) in practice Grant Benzinger dives into four or five chairs on the sideline,” Love said. “He’s never going to stop. We need to keep focusing on that and everyone have that energy and take that cue from him.
“We still have a long way to go as far as showing people wheat we’re about,” he added. “I think the 0-3 start we got at the beginning of the year is what (the Milwaukee) loss reminded us of. That 0-3 start sparked us to get better and really play as a team. Saturday’s loss should do the same thing. I think we need to keep growing off that.”