Very early impressions of Hoffman’s Wright State Raiders squad

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Photo courtesy of Wright State Athletics/Robert Hayes

A new school year starts a new year of Raider basketball, and this year ushers in a change that Raider fans haven’t seen in a while: a brand new coach. As coach Kari Hoffman goes into her first game underneath the Wright State banner, I’m going to give my way too early impressions on the squad that went out tonight to face a strong Bradley team.

To preface the two squads, let’s give a little bit of background to the changes they underwent during the off-season. For Bradley, the former fifth-seeded Missouri Valley champion, they had five of their members leave from their previous squad while others decided to use their COVID extension. All in all, Bradley took in eight new members to build up for their newest run at the Missouri Valley. Notably, Bradley still has their star from the tournament in Gabbi Haack.

Wright State lost its head coach, Katrina Merriweather, over the offseason to Memphis. They also lost their top three scorers to the transfer portal: Angel Baker found herself at Ole Miss, while Tyler Frierson and Emani Jefferson followed Merriweather to her new home. Hoffman, whose hiring came in late May, had to shore up those losses with the transfer portal, adding Makira Webster and Edecia Beck.

As champions of their respective mid major conferences, this matchup was the perfect way to test the waters to see where these squads stand.

Bradley started setting the pace in points, going up 5-0 early. The Raiders immediately battled back that deficit, taking it to 11-10 off a Destyne Jackson three pointer. The Raiders were keeping pace with the Braves through the 1st quarter, ending only 6 points apart, and the 2nd quarter until a 14-2 run to cap off the half buried the Raiders 45-30.

The rest of the game was comfortably in the Brave’s hands as Wright State could only get as close to ten to make the score 59-49. After that, an 11-0 run by the Braves in the 3rd quarter put the game away for good. Bradley took their first win of the season at home with a score of 84-65.

Bradley’s squad, led by freshman acquisition Caroline Waite, shot a suffocating 48% from behind the arc in the contest and 51% overall. Wright State’s leading scorer, sophomore Channing Chappell, led the team with 18 points and 5 three pointers. Chappell’s 55% shooting from behind the arc was exemplary, but couldn’t salvage the teams shooting percentage of 25% from the line.

With the game recap tied up, let’s get on to my super early impressions of the squad:

This squad is capable of controlling the paint. During the match, it was a fight for any of the Braves to get themselves into the paint to make chip shots at the rim. Jada Roberson made anyone who was pushing the paint miserable and was usually able to keep Bradley’s offense from making more than a handful of layups.

The Raiders stealing ability is still real. I personally thought the Angel Baker’s departure would cause this squad to lose their sleight of hand abilities, but with 11 steals on the night I could be very wrong. The Raiders are still looking for opportunities to catch teams lacking on passing and took advantage when they could.

Three pointers could be an issue. Chappell showcased her ability to nail three pointers today, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Chappell previously went 7-7 in a match last year that saw her with a career high 22 points. But Chappell is one person: the rest of the team went 3-21 behind the line. What I repeatedly saw during the game was wide open looks going off the rim. Against Bradley, who just couldn’t miss, that was a death knell.

As I mentioned above, these are just my very early impressions based on one game. Against a very good MVC opponent, Wright State needed all of its power to compete and they played admirably all game.

Wright State will travel to Toledo next on November 13th before kicking off league play early with away games at Milwaukee and Green Bay the following week. The first chance Raider fans will get to see the women in action at home is just before Thanksgiving against Xavier.

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