After being down at halftime against Purdue Fort-Wayne last Friday night, Dayton made a second half comeback sparked by two of its newcomers. Jhery Matos, a 6’6″ JUCO transfer, and Dwayne Cohill, a true freshman guard, inspired Dayton’s 91-80 win. By now you’re probably thinking both Matos and Cohill scored in double figures, however, neither of them did. Matos finished the game with seven points and Cohill ended with just three. So how did Matos and Cohill spark the Flyer’s comeback? They did it through defense.
Giving up 47 points and allowing 59% three point shooting in the first half, Anthony Grant knew Dayton needed a change on defense. As a result, he decided to start Matos in the second half. Picking up two steals and playing lockdown defense around the perimeter, Matos made the most of his second half start. After the game Grant told me “I thought he (Matos) did a lot of good things for us. He did a good job keeping the ball in front of him. He did a good job of being physical without fouling. He was able to get deflections and create some opportunities for us. I thought defensively he really gave us a big time lift.” With a +/- ratio of +18, Matos had the second best +/- of any Dayton player.
The only player with a better +/- ratio than Jhery Matos on Friday night was freshman Dwayne Cohill. At +23, the Flyers experienced their highest production when Cohill was on the floor against PFW. Although Cohill is yet to have a big scoring game, his play defensively has been quite impressive. Sticking to his assignment like glue, Cohill has shown flashes of looking similar to notorious former Flyer Kyle Davis. Following the game I asked Anthony Grant what he liked most from Cohill. He said “Defensively I thought Dwayne was big for us again. He did a really good job guarding the ball… he came in and gave us some really good minutes.” The maturity Cohill has played with should also be noted. As a player who set scoring records in high school, Cohill was one of the nation’s top 100 recruits in his class. Asking a guy like that to come in and focus on defense instead of offense does not always go over well. Cohill, however, has embraced the role.
While the season is still young, Matos and Cohill have proven themselves to be Dayton’s best defenders thus far. Heading into a loaded holiday tournament field at the Battle 4 Atlantis, the Flyers will need to bring their best defensive effort. I expect Matos and Cohill to play an underrated but key role for Dayton not only in the upcoming tournament, but as the rest of this season unfolds.
Featured Image Via David Jablonski/Dayton Daily News