I went to two football practices yesterday, but my mind is never far from basketball season. How do you fly to Fayetteville, Ark.? Where in San Juan is the Puerto Rico Tip-Off? How many times do I get to go to Brooklyn next season?
These are the questions on my mind. November can’t get here soon enough.
Dayton doesn’t play its first exhibition game for another 81 days, but the start of the season is just around the corner in some ways. I talked to Archie Miller in his office last week in regards to the changes coming to the NCAA (in short: UD’s going to do whatever it takes to compete with the big five conferences), and he says his players move in on campus by noon Aug. 25. The first team meeting is Aug. 26. Classes start Aug. 27. The players start working out Aug. 28.
Miller said the first team workout is Sept. 15, and the first real practice will be Saturday, Oct. 4.
Miller said he expects Kyle Davis and Dyshawn Pierre to be 100 percent healthy and ready for these workouts and practices. That’s a good thing because he plans to push the team hard to make up for the practice time they lost this summer with some players battling injuries.
“It’ll be a harder fall than we’ve had in the past,” Miller said. “It’ll be a lot more aggressive with conditioning. We’ve had some guys who haven’t done as much. Last year, we had a group that was together for a while. We’re going to the ground running fast this year. Our conditioning plan, our weightifting, our basketball, everything is going to be a little accelerated, a little harder.”
The early-season schedule differs from last season because the Flyers have only one preseason game (they had two last season) against Southern Indiana and only one regular-season game (they had four last season) against Alabama A&M before their in-season tournament in Puerto Rico.
UD had 15 non-conference games last season, and it has 12 this season. But it plays 18 A-10 games this season instead of 16.
In case you missed these stories, there has been some good offseason coverage for the Flyers from national writers.
Jon Rothstein, of CBSSports.com, did a Q and A with Miller at the end of July.
Among other things he touched on a common theme that will be discussed before the season and early in the season: the expectations this team will face after the Elite Eight run.
CBSSports.com: Two years ago we saw La Salle come from nowhere to reach the Sweet 16 but last season it struggled to meet a higher level of expectations. How do you guard against that with your own team next season?
Miller: Well I think one of the things is we’re going to have to be ourselves and we’re going to have to hold ourselves to the same standard that we do every day. I don’t think that there’s many people around here that expect us to go out there next year and be a Final Four team. I think our players understand that it was very, very difficult to do what we did last year. But we’ve earned it the right way and as we approach this fall, we’re going to be a lot more demanding early on. I think this team has to get hit in the head early before we get going. They’re going to have to realize that they’re not that good right now. Can we be good? Yeah, but we’re going to have to really work at it every day and we’re going to have to have some humility and leadership from some of these returning guys who weren’t in those positions last year. So the quest to put them together, that’s the big focus. It’s not really about the expectations.
Speaking of Archie Miller, an article on Bleacher Report ranked him the second-best coach under 40, behind only VCU’s Shaka Smart.
Only two members of our top 10 have reached the NCAA Elite Eight, and both ply their trade in the Atlantic 10. Dayton’s superb run through last March’s tournament added Archie Miller to the club, and it also added him to some major-conference short lists. It’s a testament to Miller’s comfort level at Dayton and the rising profile of the A-10 that the 35-year-old coach has remained in place.