Men’s Basketball: Raiders make most of offseason
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It may be the middle of July but that is not stopping the Wright State men’s basketball team from preparing for the 2014-15 season.
Coach Billy Donlon is limited in what he can do with his squad over the offseason. His staff is allowed by rule to spend a maximum of eight hours a week with the squad; only two of which can be spent on a basketball court.
For a player to take that next step as an athlete, the choices athletes make over the summer is important, said Donlon.
“All of the other Division I programs… they are using that time,” Donlon said. “The advantage we have is the Mills Morgan Setzer Pavilion (WSU’s workout facility). It has safe, 24-hour access and it doesn’t take a lot to get in that gym.”
“You can tell if over the course of a summer if a guy’s shot has improved,” Donlon said.
Without as many practices as the regular season, some players use the offseason to play in pickup games. While coaches like Louisville’s Rick Pitino have barred players from partaking in pickup basketball, Donlon has allowed his squad to play in games.
“There is no doubt that pickup basketball is the worst thing going,” Donlon said. “There are some bad habits created from summer basketball that high school coaches have to deal with and as college coaches, we are in the same boat.”
The nonconference schedule includes eight road games and four home contests, and is set to be released in early September. The nonconference schedule will be bolstered by a contest in Columbus at Ohio State. Donlon said on Tuesday he was unsure whether Wright State would be able to add any more home games to the upcoming nonconference schedule.
“I am trying as hard as we possibly can to get teams to start a series here, and no one wants to do it,” Donlon said.
Part of the reason WSU is unable to attract teams to the Nutter Center is the school has lacked funding in recent years to buy home games. A common practice for larger programs is to pay smaller schools large sums of guaranteed money in exchange for not returning home games. Donlon said the program no longer lacks the ability to pay for such games.
One squad Donlon is excited to bring to the Nutter Center is Belmont who is joining the Horizon League as an associate member. Belmont is participating in men’s soccer as a conference member and has a scheduling agreement in other sports. Belmont has been to the NCAA Tournament three of the last four seasons.
Of his seven incoming freshmen and junior college transfers, six are on campus according to Donlon. The majority of the squad, he said, are using summer school as an opportunity to either get ahead or catch up on their academic workload.
“A few guys need to catch up to remain on that four year track,” Donlon said.
WSU hangs on to its talent
While rival Horizon League foe Cleveland State lost one of its top players to Michigan State, Donlon managed to hang onto the nucleus of his non-seniors.
In June, Bryn Forbes announced his decision to forgo his final two years at Cleveland State and opted to join Tom Izzo’s Michigan State program. Forbes averaged over 15 points a game for the Vikings who finished second in the Horizon League regular season.
Donlon knows the feeling of losing a star player. In 2012, his squad lost Julius Mays after his junior season. Mays went on to the University of Kentucky. He went on to lead the Wildcats in minutes played and assists.
“You have to recruit your own guys, you have to recruit the guys who are still here,” Donlon said. “We didn’t play Steven Davis and Mark Howell very much and almost every other team in our league, they would have played. I am glad they stayed and I think the league is going to see they’re pretty good.”