Dayton

Dayton Fans: It’s Gonna Hurt

I’m writing this because I don’t know what else to do. I’m guessing you’re reading it for the exact same reason. It’s hours and days like this when we desperately search for any semblance of community because I can’t be the only one feeling this, right?

Luckily we are Dayton fans. We’re never really alone.

***

I started my freshman year at Dayton in August 2001. I was just in Denver last weekend, March 2020, with basically all the same friends I met that first week at UD in 2001. Damn near 20 years later. Together for one weekend which somehow lined up with the University of Dayton on parade in all its glory on ESPN College Gameday and Obi Toppin casually dunking on GW like a PlaySkool hoop and everything just felt right. The stars finally aligned. This was it.

That was literally just six days ago. My last real memory of this historic Dayton team will be Obi Toppin going through the legs in live action and I was with my people.

We’re never really alone.

***

Let’s get this out of the way: this is almost definitely the best Flyers team we will ever see. Would you like the list of teams outside the power conferences that have finished top five overall in the KenPom era? Of course you do, you’re a glutton for punishment. Here you go:

  • Cincinnati, 2002
  • St. Joseph’s, 2004
  • Louisville, 2005
  • Memphis, 2008
  • Memphis, 2009
  • Gonzaga, 2013
  • Louisville, 2014
  • Gonzaga, 2017
  • Cincinnati, 2018
  • Gonzaga, 2019
  • Gonzaga 2020

Gonzaga. Louisville. Memphis. Cincinnati. St. Joe’s.

And the 2020 Dayton Flyers. 12 teams in 19 years of basketball from outside the major conferences have been this damn good.

It’s a damn shame we can’t see what this would have accomplished with another month to play. But please don’t let that overshadow what was already accomplished this season. This team was special and anyone that was lucky enough to witness it knows that. This is probably the best Dayton team we’ll ever see and that’s totally okay. Somebody has to be the best.

***

Flyers fan like to point to the very worst years of their fandom to prove their credentials. They’ll mention the trashiest players they saw suit up and say “see? I lived through THAT” like it was a tour of duty in Vietnam. It’s cute. It’s like you walk up to a bar and the bouncer asks you to say the worst Dayton player you ever saw to start dozens of games. You say “Chris Alvarez” and they open the door and nod as you walk by as if saying “yeah you earned this.”

This team changed the conversation. We stopped talking about the very worst we had seen and instead acknowledged we had reached the mountaintop and the view was damn near perfect. This team made it fun again. Isn’t that why we’re supposed to be here?

***

Spare a little bit of pity for yourself as a fan. You hurt right now and that’s totally fine. Hurt is only borne of caring and Flyers fans care, man. We care so damn much. But reflect on what these players are feeling, first and foremost.

Dwayne. Jhery. Jordy.

This team started out with one measly AP vote at #25. (Thanks, Cecil Hurt.) They immediately put the whole damn whole world on notice early on by nearly shocking Kansas in Maui. They had swagger. They had talent. They were having fun.

Rodney. Ibi.

They proceeded to mow through damn near everyone else they saw on the schedule and they did it in the most aesthetically pleasing way possible. This was not UVA rock fight basketball. This was about as close to you will see to an NBA offense in the college ranks. And it all centered around…

Jalen. Obi.

The connection these two have just doesn’t usually exist in college basketball. Two guys this preternaturally talented don’t usually stay long enough together to instinctually know what the other one wants for breakfast. These guys are special and we’ll never see anything like them again.

But this team couldn’t happen without…

Ryan. Trey.

Thank you. Thank you for reminding us that this really can and should be fun and it’s worth coming back for and that we all have each other. That this is a family.

We’re never really alone.

 

Ray Stineman penned the OG Dayton Flyers blog, Flyers Fieldhouse. It was mostly terrible. He is marginally smarter now! Follow him on Twitter @godaytonflyers.