Men’s basketball: Raiders looking to break road woes in Oxford Sunday
Playing away from the Nutter Center has not been kind for Wright State. Just over a month into the season, the Raiders are still looking for their first road win of the season.
They hope to break a six-game losing streak on the road with a victory over a local rival.
The Raiders will board a bus Sunday morning and play the Miami RedHawks in Millet Hall Sunday at 2 p.m. Miami is 1-5 on the season.
WSU head coach Billy Donlon is looking for improved effort on the defensive end after allowing 94 points last weekend at VMI.
“We’re in the position we are in because we haven’t guarded very well,” Donlon said. “If that doesn’t change, we’ll continue to have inconsistent games. Anytime you rely on your offense to win the championship, you’re not going to produce and we learned that on the road.”
Despite the 5-6 start, Donlon is optimistic the team can turn things around.
“Certainly we are disappointed with where we are but you don’t get to go back and change your history,” Donlon said. “You learn from it and grow from it and it really because a game of daily improvement.”
Sunday’s contest is as big of a rivalry as the Raiders have outside of the Horizon League. The Raiders have squared off with the RedHawks every year since 1999. WSU has won the last three meetings with Miami.
There is also local pride at stake as five Miami players come from the Miami Valley. There are three Raiders that are local products. Donlon said he is expecting Sunday to be a physical contest.
“It is a game where you can throw out the record of both teams,” Donlon said. “It has significant meaning to the kids on the team. Every game has incredible meaning to the coaches, I don’t know for coach (John) Cooper or myself, this game means anything more as they all count the same. But there are local guys, there are recruiting things. They recruited some of our guys, we recruited some of their guys.”
WSU senior guard Matt Vest is looking for his fourth victory over Miami.
“Coach always says that playing Miami is like playing another league game,” he said. “We play them every year and it is always a physical battle. And we know some of the guys on their team and they know us, some local guys. It is almost like another league game playing Miami especially on the road, makes it that much more tough.”
In four of the Raiders’ six road losses, the Raiders were within a possession in the final minutes of the game.
“We don’t talk about home and road from that standpoint,” Donlon said. “If we lost those same six games at home, I would be just as disappointed as if we lost them on the road.”
With the Raiders riding a three-game losing streak into Oxford, confidence is a concern for Donlon. But a win over Miami would be a nice boost as the Raiders will have a four-game home stand beginning Dec. 19.
“The more you lose, the more doubt creeps in,” Donlon said. “I don’t expect that to be a problem with our team currently. The great line that ‘winning cures all ills,’ I don’t know if it cures it but it has you ignore some things for a little while. Could our team use a win? Absolutely.”
Vest and fellow forward Cole Darling are graduating Saturday with a bachelor’s in business. The two will wait until spring to walk at commencement. Donlon said that AJ Pacher is one class away from graduating in the spring.
“It has gone really fast, it is almost surreal I am graduating college Saturday. Been really lucky to have great teachers, great academic help here at the Pavilion. Just a real blessing to be done finally,” Vest said.