Wright State Basketball Preview: #57
Overall Rank: #57
Conference Rank: #2 Horizon League
2008-09: 20-13, 12-6
2008-09 postseason: none
Coach: Brad Brownell (63-33 at Wright State, 147-73 overall)
Wright State lost their superstar Vaughn Duggins four games into the season. Despite that major setback, the Raiders still won 20 games and managed to compete in a tough Horizon League. Now Duggins is back, as is nearly everybody else, and Wright State should have the year they were hoping to have in 2008-2009 in 2009-2010.
Key Losses: G William Graham, F Gavin Horne
With the return of Duggins, Coach Brad Brownell does not need help from his three incoming freshmen this year. This class is more about the future, but the future is looking pretty good with Tyler Koch and Darian Cartharn coming into the backcourt. Koch is a wing with good size who can score in bunches and hit the glass. Cartharn could see some minutes this year as a backup point guard, but it might be tough to find minutes in an already crowded backcourt. Forward Paul Darkwa has the most experience after spending eight years in the Navy. The 26 year old is a good athlete and should emerge as a quality player after a year or two in the system.
It was Todd Brown who really stepped up his game when Duggins went out. Brown ended the year averaging 11.7 points per game and turned into a great outside shooting threat. He even ranked second on the team in rebounding and with him and Duggins on the wings, the Raiders are in great shape. Add N’Gai Evans and Troy Tabler to the mix and Wright State has plenty of options on the perimeter. Yet, it is John David Gardner who is the unsung hero. The 6-4 senior missed part of the season with a hip injury, but he was the leader of the team on the floor, dishing out 3.1 assists per game.
The frontcourt lacks the scoring punch of the perimeter, but Cory Cooperwood has emerged as a consistent scorer under the basket. A season ago he tallied 9.5 points and a team high 5.4 rebounds and his senior season should be his best yet. Ronnie Thomas is back to start by Cooperwood’s side. Thomas is not much of a scorer, but he will do the dirty work around the basket and help out on the glass. However, the team will rely on Scott Grote and Cooper Land to help out Thomas and give Cooperwood a break when he needs a rest or runs into foul trouble.
Who to Watch:
Two years ago Duggins led the Raiders with 13.8 points and connected on nearly 40 percent of his attempts from long range. He even dished out 2.7 assists and averaged one steal per contest. Losing him unexpectedly was a huge blow to a team that had NCAA aspirations, but now that he is back, the Raiders hope to live up to those lofty expectations.
If anybody is going to give Butler a run for their money, it should be Wright State. Coach Brownell has done a great job with the Raiders during his three years with the team and his fourth year could be his best yet. This group might not be able to beat out Butler, but they could hang around the bubble if they can win some big non-conference games in November and December.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
John David Gardner, Senior, Guard, 8.7 points per game
Vaughn Duggins, Junior, Guard, 11.8 points per game
Todd Brown, Senior, Guard, 11.7 points per game
Ronnie Thomas, Senior, Forward, 3.9 points per game
Cory Cooperwood, Senior, Forward, 9.5 points per game
Next Top 144 Teams