Men’s basketball upbeat despite roster turnover

Charles Grove, Sports Writer
September 26, 2012
Filed under Men's Basketball, Sports

In college basketball, there is no offseason. Even though official practices are still weeks away, the men’s basketball team is gearing up for another season.

Since the end of last year’s 13-19 campaign, the Raiders have lost eight players, including guard Julius Mays (Sr.), who transferred to Kentucky, and forward Armond Battle, who graduated early and won’t be returning for his final season.

Despite all the departures, point guard Reggie Arceneaux (So.) remains focused.

“We can only control the things that we can control,” Arceneaux said. “Our minds need to be focused on winning games and competing against each other every day.”

While this year’s roster is more balanced with five freshmen, four sophomores and five juniors, there are no seniors on the team. Juniors Matt Vest, Cole Darling and AJ Pacher will likely be the leaders on a team searching for it’s first trip to the NCAA tournament since 2007.

“The expectation is the same it is for every year: to win a Horizon League championship. Last year, we had a bad year and by no means is that acceptable, but we are focused on having a great year and bringing back the 20 win seasons that Wright State fans are accustomed to,” Pacher said.

On top of the players leaving, the team lost Assistant Coach Clayton Bates, who took a similar job at Western Michigan where he previously coached.

“Coach Donlon did a great job of letting us know his (Bates’) decision to leave and keep a focus for the team on getting better everyday,” Pacher said. “There are no hard feelings from anyone here and we wish him the best of luck.”

Head Coach Billy Donlon is entering his seventh season with WSU and his third as head coach. In his brief time at the helm of the program, Donlon has amassed a total of 32 wins and 33 losses.

Last season’s schedule included games against four Sweet 16 teams: Ohio State, Cincinnati, Florida and Ohio. While this year’s schedule looks weaker on paper, there are still home matchups with Miami (OH), Cleveland State and last year’s Horizon League champion Detroit. But rival Butler is not on the schedule after their offseason departure to the Atlantic 10 conference.

“The Horizon League will continue to be an extremely competitive league,” guard Kendall Griffin (So.) said. “The league has continued to improve over the years and I don’t see that changing just because one team leaves.”

The road portion of the schedule is highlighted by a trip to Salt Lake City, where the Raiders will play three games in four days (Nov. 21-24). Other road matchups include dates with Bowling Green on Dec. 3 and Cincinnati on Dec. 22.

Official practices don’t start until October, but many players are already excited about this year’s team,
including Pacher.

“The team is working really hard,” Pacher said. “I think this is the most enthusiastic group of guys I have ever been around day in and day out.”

“If we push each other in practice, we can only make one another better each day,” Arceneaux said.

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