Shortly after time expired in Dayton’s Atlantic 10 conference championship clinching win over VCU, I saw this tweet.
First time a Dayton team has been an outright conference regular season champ since UD stopped being an independent in 1988.
— Chris Moorman (@Stormin_Moorman) March 2, 2017
I knew I had to write something. An outright conference champion for the first time in thirty years. The winningest senior class in the history of program. Probably my all-time favorite Flyer. Yes, I had to write something, so here’s my best shot.
Thank You, Ryan Mikesell
This might seem like an odd place to start. But had you told me Ryan Mikesell would start 24 games for UD this year, I would have either called you crazy or assumed something had gone horribly wrong. In a way, things did go wrong – starting with the tragic passing of Steve McElvene. Before the season began, Kostas Antetokounmpo was ruled a partial qualifier and thus not able to play until the 2017-’18 season. Josh Cunningham was injured two games into the season and would go on to miss 21 games because of that injury.
So Mikesell was forced into action and got to start those 24 games, at power forward no less. He guarded guys who were bigger, stronger and more physical than he is. He looked overmatched at times but, for the most part, really held his own. His double-double in a (much needed) win over Vanderbilt will not soon be forgotten.
Thank You, Josh Cunningham
With 5 seconds left in the Alabama game, I said the same thing that a lot of you probably did. “Oh no, Josh’s season is over.” While, as I mentioned, he did miss 21 games, Cunningham’s season was not over.
This shouldn't be overlooked. Dude has half an ankle and was gassed. Gave every ounce he had. He's a champion. https://t.co/oaxjd1XHrV
— Adam (@adam_gutheil) March 2, 2017
When UD needed a big body in the season’s biggest game, Cunningham answered the bell. Playing on “half an ankle” and probably not even in game shape, JC put up 10 and 4 as well as banging bodies with Alie-Cox and Tillman all night. What an effort when the Flyers absolutely had to have it.
Thank You, Xeyrius Williams
From the 3:07 mark of this video…
…To this video. In less than 3 months’ time. The X-Man truly is the definition of Dayton’s most improved player.
Thank You, Darrell Davis (We’re doing one of these for everybody, so buckle in.)
Good old Durrell never quite became the 3-points marksman we all thought he might (although 37% from the arc isn’t bad). But he’s made up for it on the defensive end. The Richmond game, which KD missed due to injury, was the highlight of the younger Davis’s season in my mind.
Oh, Durrell held Shawndre to 1 point on 0-9 shooting? Mabye we should talk about dat.
— C-Car (@UDFlyers) January 20, 2017
Thank You, Sam Miller and John Crosby and Trey Landers
I haven’t tried to hide the fact that I’ve never been the biggest fan of Miller or Crosby. But Miller has been a needed role player, if only because this year’s Dayton team has dealt with injuries and could always use a big body with five available fouls. Crosby too is a necessary cog because, well, Scoochie might die if he had to play 40 minutes a night, every night. And no one wants that. Miller and Crosby have been a part of 49 UD wins (and counting), which is nothing to sneeze at. Landers gets lumped in with these guys, but hopefully the best is yet to come for Trey.
Thank You, Charles Cooke
Jordan Sibert graduated and Dyshawn Pierre was suspended and I was left asking, “Who is going to score for this team?” The answer was Charles Cooke, who came in and essentially led the Flyers in scoring from his first game with the team.
Thank you, Charles, for being the most talented player on this UD team. Thanks for being its most gifted athlete and its best pure scorer. Cooke should be and probably will be named to the Atlantic 10 First Team and All-Defensive Team in back-to-back years. That’s an accomplishment that should not be overlooked.
Thank You, Kendall Pollard
I’ll admit when Jalen Robinson and Devon Scott were dismissed from the team, I was wary. Wary of a 6’6” sophomore who might be kinda fat taking over as UD’s de facto center for the rest of the season. What did Kendall Pollard do? Only help the Flyers to two NCAA tournament wins with a six-and-a-half man rotation and no players taller then he is. Though injury-plagued, KP really has excelled during his time in a UD uniform.
Thank You, Scoochie Smith
Scoochie’s genitalia and its (healthy) girth has been the subject of many a conversation on this blog and on UD twitter. (Not homoerotic at all, guys.) I can’t add much else to this conversation, but I will say two things. Scoochie is gonna go down as my all-time favorite Flyer and, secondly, game on the line, one shot to win or tie…I want the ball in Scoochie’s hands and no one else’s.
Thank You, Kyle Davis
This is a goddamn work of art and belongs in a museum somewhere.
The thing about Kyle Davis is he makes one of these plays EVERY game. He made one the other night against VCU, which was capped by the 6’0” Davis driving fearlessly into Mo Alie-Cox and converting the layup. He makes one game-changing play per night, and I still have no idea how.
Thank You for 102 Wins
And counting… Scooch, Kyle Davis, Pollard. Best class in the history of the UD basketball program. (Cooke too, but he only gets credit for half.) Not sure what else I can add.
Thank You, Archie
“Dayton should be competing for a regular-season championship and be in the position to advance [in the NCAA tournament],” he said. “I have no reservations in my approach.”
April 19, 2011. That’s the money quote. Archie said it when he was hired and then made it happen. All due respect to Edwin C. Moses, but the street in front of UD Arena should be renamed Archie Miller Avenue and construction of an Archie statue should begin posthaste!
I’m just gonna leave you guys with this: