FAIRBORN — With their first game about to tip off, Wright State University’s men’s basketball program will be looking to several players to have increased roles moving forward. This includes 6-foot-11 junior center Parker Ernsthausen, who had a breakthrough season last year.
Ernsthausen says there are times where he still lacks confidence on the court, but he feels the coaching staff has helped him improve that aspect of his game.
WSU coach Scott Nagy agreed this is something Ernsthausen can work on, but that he has shown noticeable progress by being more vocal. He added that this carries over to his focus on defense.
“If you listen on the floor of all our guys, he (Ernsthausen) probably talks more than any of them. He is incredibly intelligent and is a good team defender, because he is always talking,” Nagy said. “He has a great idea of what teams are trying to do. When he watches film and goes onto the floor, he can recognize what is going on probably better than anyone on our basketball team.”
It took plenty of confidence and determination for Ernsthausen to get to this point. He was redshirted during the 2014-15 season and had to prove he was worthy to be the integral part of the lineup he is today over the course of the next two years.
“It’s been quite the journey. A lot of people didn’t think I could play at this level,” Ernsthausen said. “I wouldn’t change my decision and how this all went for the world.”
Ernsthausen’s stepping-stone season last year came in the form of eight starts, a 65.5 field goal percentage and a 24-point game against Oakland. What made him an especially vital part of the team was his ability to defend in the paint, which was made even stronger by his graceful footwork.
After losing three players that accounted for over 40 points of scoring average, the Raiders will likely need Ernsthausen to step up on the offensive end.
“Defense is what I’ve hung my hat on, but with us losing a lot of scoring from last year I’m looking to fulfill that role,” Ernsthausen said. “I’ve been working on my shooting and I know my teammates believe in me.”
Ernsthausen has been looking to add to his offensive repertoire with a three-point shot.
“I don’t know how many I’ll take early in the year, but you might see some three point shots come from me from the top of the key,” Ernsthausen said.
Ernsthausen will have a new role on defense as well, Nagy explained.
“We’re challenging him a little bit more this year, because we’re playing him some at (power forward),” Nagy said. “He is having to guard quicker guys, but we feel like he is capable of doing that.”
Two players who Ernsthausen has been getting advice from are expected to be key scoring options themselves, guards Justin Mitchell and Mark Hughes.
“Mark Hughes and Justin Mitchell give me confidence to shoot the ball. I have the same belief in them,” Ernsthausen said.
The Raiders were ousted by Northern Kentucky in last year’s Horizon League tournament. Though Ernsthausen says this was a squandered opportunity, he believes it has made his team more prepared.
“I think that’s in the back of everybody’s mind,” Ernsthausen said. “This year, we’re a little more focused and ready to take it one game at a time.”
The season opens on the road for the Raiders against Loyola on Friday, Nov. 9. With Ernsthausen standing tall, WSU could rise above expectations.
“I don’t think there is anything short of going to the NCAA tournament. It’s a unique group of guys that are going to have to play out of position a little bit this year,” Ernsthausen said. “I think we can definitely do it, and if we believe in each other, I don’t see why we can’t.”
Story courtesy of Wright State University Athletics.