Men’s Basketball: Raiders looking for assistance in getting a first-round bye

Justin Boggs, Sports Writer

Wright State is hoping to get some assistance Thursday before hosting Detroit for a nationally televised tilt Friday on ESPNU.

The Raiders remain 1 1/2 games behind Valpo for third in the Horizon League standings. Third place in the conference gets a first-round bye in the Horizon League Championship. Also fighting for third is Milwaukee who, like Wright State, has six conference losses.

If both Milwaukee and Valpo lose their respective contests Thursday, the Raiders will control their destiny for getting the bye as WSU hosts Valpo next weekend.

But WSU coach Billy Donlon is more concerned about his team will come out Friday after falling to Detroit on Jan. 4 58-53.

“We want to take it one game at a time,” Donlon said. “Detroit is a good team, we need to defend our home court. As I have said, you can’t lose conference home games. If we beat Green Bay and Cleveland State at home, we would be in first place.”

According to a Wright State spokesperson, the Raiders have never hosted a game as late as Friday’s 10 p.m. tip. Donlon said he has considered several options on trying to keep his squad’s routine as normal as possible.

“You have an older team that has two home games left, hopefully they’ll have great urgency,” Donlon said. “We’ll push everything back later like our shoot around and those type of things.”

Donlon said he considered doing practices at 10 p.m. this week to get the squad used to playing late at night. He opted to keep a more normal practice schedule this week.

“I am going to treat it more like a cram,” Donlon said. “Try to allow for the adrenaline and playing at home to get them through the game instead of changing their entire habit for a game.”

With five seniors on the squad, Donlon is looking for urgency out them with their final two home games coming up in the next week.

“I am proud of our guys, we haven’t made excuses,” Donlon said. “You look around the league, when Green Bay lost a key player, they lost by 20. When Cleveland State didn’t have a key player this past weekend, they lost by 20. Their coaches talked about how they’re a different team. Our guys have kept the ball moving and we have been in every game we have played.”

One senior Donlon said has played with the most urgency this season is guard Matt Vest. Donlon called Vest his best player in the Raiders’ come-from-behind 72-71 win at Oakland on Sunday. Though Vest did not put up the impressive numbers that teammates AJ Pacher and Cole Darling did, he kept Oakland 3-point specialist Travis Bader from draining an outside shot.

“We better play better than we did at Detroit, that is for sure,” Vest said. “Our first game against them, we had a lot of offensive struggles. But we’ll bring our defense and if our offense can hit on all cylinders, we’ll be in good shape.”

The Raiders will be without junior guard Kendall Griffin who remains out indefinitely with a head injury. Donlon would not comment on Griffin’s status past Friday.

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