Over the last two weeks, the Dayton Flyers have fallen into a major slump. Dayton has dropped three of its last four games. The most recent loss came on Saturday to an injury-depleted Rhode Island team. This marked Dayton’s second straight home loss. For a team that hardly ever loses a game inside the friendly compounds of UD Arena, coming up short in their last two matchups there is shocking.
Remember Dayton’s nine game win streak? Just two short weeks ago, the Flyers were ranked #15 in the AP poll and were starting to look like one of the best teams in the country. When Kendall Pollard was sidelined due to an injury, however, that all came crashing down. Dayton dropped two straight games for the first time in 77 games (3rd longest streak in the country). After that, they managed to survive Saint Louis 52-49 in overtime, but then they turned around and lost at home to Rhode Island. How could a Dayton team who was playing so well, all of a sudden look extremely flustered? The answer may lie in Kendall Pollard’s injury.
Coming off earning the A-10’s most improved player award last year, Kendall Pollard has continued to produce this season when healthy. At 6’6″ 235, Pollard plays an important role in Dayton’s defense. He frequently plays center, enabling the Flyers to dominate smaller lineups. Not only that, his strength and jumping abilities enable him to stick with bigger guys. Even though the junior has found himself on and off the court due to a knee injury this season, he has averaged 11 points and 5 rebounds per game. When Pollard does not play, Archie Miller is forced to insert freshman bigs Steve McElvene and Sam Miller into the lineup. While they have a lot of potential, McElvene and Miller currently lack the experience Dayton desires. In order to return to their highly successful ways, the Flyers need a healthy Pollard back.
The latest news regarding when Kendall Pollard will return to 100% health seems positive. Although he came off the bench against Rhode Island, Pollard’s return to game action is a good sign. He contributed eight points and four rebounds. Following the game, Archie Miller said, “Kendall played way too many minutes, but that’s what happens when other young guys get into foul trouble.” At times, it appears that the Flyers just can’t survive without him on the court. Miller says Pollard will stay active but will remain day-to-day for the rest of the season. Dayton will try to ease Pollard back into action, but with just two games left in the regular season, time is running out. Hopefully the Flyers can put Pollard back into the starting lineup soon and start clicking again. If the Flyers can get him going again and get back to firing on all cylinders, they will certainly be able to make some noise in the Big Dance.