With the regular season in the books, all attention is focused on Pittsburgh and the A-10 tournament. Finishing the regular season 24-6 overall, Archie Miller and the Flyers have their sights set on not only a conference title, but also another NCAA tournament appearance. As a veteran team led team with some emerging young stars, Dayton certainly has the talent to make some more noise this March. As the A-10 tournament and Big Dance quickly approach, lets take a look back at the Flyers regular season resume.
Going 9-3 in non-conference play, Dayton put together a fairly decent resume heading into the A-10 slate. While the Flyers did not manage to pick up any stand-out wins, they did manage to grab some quality dubs. Dayton won at Alabama and defeated Vanderbilt to continue its success against SEC opponents. The Flyers also beat sneaky good teams like Winthrop and East Tennessee State to help pad the resume. Falling to only Nebraska, St. Mary’s, and Northwestern in the non-conference, Dayton was able to begin A-10 play without any bad losses.
As the preseason favorites to win the A-10, Dayton entered conference play with high expectations. After starting off the A-10 slate with three key wins over La Salle, St. Bonaventure, and Rhode Island, the Flyers faced an unexpectedly tough test at UMass. Dayton fell to the Minutemen 67-55 (the only time the Flyers lost by double digits all year). While this loss stung, it ended up marking Dayton’s only bad loss of the season.
The Flyers went on to win 12 of their next 13 games including a nine game win streak following the loss at VCU. Dayton capped off its win streak with some good old fashioned revenge. The Flyers took down VCU on senior night to clinch the outright A-10 regular season title. Coming off the emotional high, Dayton fell in its final game of the regular season to a hot George Washington squad. All in all, the Flyers put together a conference season to remember, going 15-3 and winning the A-10 title.
In another season filled with adversity, Dayton continued finding a way to do what it does best: win. With Kendall Pollard injured to begin the season and Josh Cunningham sidelined for most of the year, the Flyers were forced to rely on their bench. While playing sophomore forwards like Ryan Miksell, Xeyrius Williams, and Sam Miller hurt Dayton at the time, the experience those guys gained is certainly paying off now. All three have shown improvement and Williams, in fact, is quickly turning into the Flyer’s next star.
At 6’9” Williams can not only effect opponents shots around the rim, but also light things up from behind the arc any given time. Williams hit two clutch threes in the final 20 seconds to give Dayton a 75-74 win at Rhode Island earlier this year. In the Flyer’s last game against George Washington, Williams went off at one point, hitting five straight threes in the second half. Following an 11 point performance in a win over St. Joseph’s on February 7th, Williams told me “Its just been confidence. I know it’s going in every time I release it.”
Now, with Cunningham back from injury and the sophomores playing well, Dayton seems ready for a tournament run. With four senior leaders, the Flyers certainly have the experience needed to not only win the A-10 tournament, but also go on a deep run in the Big Dance. If there’s a year for Dayton to win both conference titles, it’s definitely this one. It should be fun to watch how the Flyers fair in Pittsburgh coming off another highly successful regular season.