#119 Wright St: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #119
Conference Rank: #3 Horizon League
2009-10: 20-12, 12-6
2009-10 postseason: none
Coach: Billy Donlon (First year at Wright State, 0-0 overall)
After leading Wright State to four straight 20 win seasons, Coach Brad Brownell left for Clemson. The Raiders should not feel too much of an effect though since new coach Billy Donlon has been preparing for this moment while assisting Coach Brownell for quite some time. The bigger issue is replacing most of the frontcourt.
Key Losses: G Todd Brown, F Cory Cooperwood, F Scott Grote, F Ronnie Thomas
The Raiders picked up a much needed experienced big body in Johan Mpondo. The transfer from New Orleans is eligible immediately and was a part-time starter last year. He could immediately step into a starting role with the absence of Cory Cooperwood, Scott Grote and Ronnie Thomas. Wright State will also give incoming freshmen Cole Darling and A.J. Pacher a long look for quality minutes. Darling is expected to be the better player right away, but Pacher has more size if Coach Donlon needs a bigger body to clog the lane. Guards Kegan Clark and Matt Vest will have far less pressure on them to perform, but it would be nice if at least one of them could turn into a productive player off the bench.
WSU lost a lot of talent, but they return three superb players on the perimeter. Vaughn Duggins has been a star in the Horizon League for quite some time and his senior season should be a fun one to watch. Duggins led the team with 14.2 points per game last season and added 2.9 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals. Like Duggins, N’Gai Evans is a quality ballhandler and defender. With Evans on the floor, Duggins can work off the ball more often and that will free him up to hit the long ball. Speaking of the long ball, Troy Tabler was the sixth man last year and was the most efficient and effective three-point shooter on the team. For now he will likely crack the starting lineup, but if the Raiders can find somebody else to play on the wing, Tabler will have another great year shooting off the bench. The only other guard with any experience is Darian Cartharn. He never got much of an opportunity to show his stuff as a freshman, but that will change this year.
We have been here before. Wright State has rarely had a dominating presence in the paint, but they continue to win games. This year will pretty much be the same. The pickup of Mpondo gives them a player with experience at this level and that will help immensely, but Cooper Land is not a bad player to work with in this system either. Land is an experienced senior and should be penciled in as the starter at the power forward spot. He is not much of a scorer, but he has not been asked to do much either. Land does have the talent to put up numbers similar to what Cooperwood did last season.
Who to Watch:
The departure of Paul Darkwa puts even more pressure on the newcomers in the frontcourt. Darkwa only averaged five minutes per game during his freshman campaign, but he could have been a starter on this team if he developed as much as most hoped. Instead, Mpondo, Darling and Pacher will have to provide a starter at the five spot and the bench minutes at both forward positions.
A new coach and not much of a frontcourt will keep Wright State’s expectations relatively low heading into the 2010-2011 campaign. And while there will certainly be growing pains, this team does not look too much different than Raider teams of the past. As long as Land and the newcomers can grab some rebounds and play some defense, the extremely talented backcourt will lead Wright State to another 20 win season and put them in the mix for a trip to the CBI or CIT.
Projected Post-season Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Vaughn Duggins, Senior, Guard, 14.2 ppg
N’Gai Evans, Senior, Guard, 9.5 ppg
Troy Tabler, Senior, Guard, 8.9 ppg
Cooper Land, Senior, Forward, 5.5 ppg
Johan Mpondo, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
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