Game No. 1 recap: Dayton 76, Alabama A&M 52


Kyle Davis gets tied up Friday. This was called a jump ball. David Jablonski/Staff


One game down, 29 plus to go. I wasn’t sent to the three games in Maui last season, but I expect to be at them all this season. I’m leaving Tuesday for Puerto Rico and will to sneak in some snorkel gear among all the camera equipment.

Last year, we figured Dayton would have a charmed life all season after the Sibert Miracle in the opener. Of course, I don’t think any of us figured there was enough charm in the world to get UD the Elite Eight.

What did we learn Friday in Dayton’s season-opening 76-52 victory (photo gallery here) against Alabama A&M, by far the easier of the A&Ms they’ll face in their first two games?

Here are five things we learned:

1. Darrell Davis is as good as advertised.

The freshman guard had 17 points, leading all scorers, in his UD debut. He only had two in the first half, but carried the offense early.

Here’s the lede of my game story:

Darrell Davis knows how to make an entrance. The Dayton freshman played so well Friday in his first game as a Flyer, scoring a team-high 17 points in a 76-52 season-opening victory over Alabama A&M, you might have thought the new “D” logo at center court at UD Arena stood for Darrell or Davis.

Only the student dressed as a hot dog and the one dressed as a pilot in the Red Scare section had flashier season debuts.

“I’m very excited,” Davis said. “I give all the credit to my team. They push me in practice to go hard. I was a little nervous starting off. I played through it.”

Davis had a similar bold beginning as a freshman at Frederick Douglass High School in Detroit. He remembered scoring 12 points in his first game.

Davis scored 15 of his points Friday in the first half. He missed his first shot, a 3-pointer, and didn’t miss again the rest of the half. He made 4-of-5 shots from the field and 3-of-4 3-pointers in the half. He was a perfect 4-of-4 at the line.

2. Depth will be an issue, if not a fatal flaw.

Again, the Flyers played with seven scholarship players and walk-on Bobby Wehrli, who didn’t see action until the last five minutes of the first half.

Devon Scott was suspended for the exhibition game because of his offseason incident. This time, it was Kendall Pollard, who was suspended for a unspecified violation of team rules and will return for Thursday’s first game in Puerto Rico against Texas A&M.

Ryan Bass remains out indefinitely with a concussion, but Archie Miller holds out hope he will travel with the team to Puerto Rico and potentially make his UD debut there. Bass was at the game Friday.

“He’s seeing the docs regularly,” Miller said. “He’s going to take it slow. He’s a guy that still has symptoms. We were hopeful that maybe he’d come along a little faster, but he feels better. It’s going to be based on simply the fact of, ‘Is his baseline testing clear?’ When that happens, he’ll be fine. There won’t be any in-between for him.”

Another newcomer, junior forward Detwon Rogers, keeps making progress in his rehab from a knee injury.

“Detwon’s had some positive (things) going on,” Miller said. “That’s the one thing that’s been happening behind the scenes with him. It’s really a timing process for him. He didn’t have a surgical procedure. He had an injection procedure. It’s basically a wait-and-see approach to see how the tear in his knee responded. With four weeks to go — 12 weeks is the maximum time of healing — he has a repaired tendon. He needs to get to through another four weeks to have a maximum recovery, which is putting him in a situation to now increase (activity). He’s running. He’s on the floor doing more functional things. As we get into Puerto Rico, he may get into basketball workouts for the first time. I think the goal for Detwon has always been (returning for) conference play — depending on conditioning, depending on health, maybe later December. But he’s moving in the right direction. He’ll be behind, but he’s another body.”

With the short bench, Miller has stressed to his players the importance of staying out of foul trouble. They did a great job Friday, committing only six fouls in the first half. Jordan Sibert, who fouled out, was the only Flyer with more than three fouls.

“That’s all we’re talking about right now,” Miller said. “A big part of staying out of foul trouble is how hard you play. The hardest-playing guys, the hardest-playing teams usually aren’t reactive. Fouling is a lack of discipline, positioning, being late to your responsibilities.”

3. Scott is a leader.

The junior forward might have the biggest personality on the team. He’s certainly the best quote on the team. Tom Archdeacon focused on Scott, who was voted by teammates to be one of three captains along with Scoochie Smith and Jordan Sibert, in his column last night.

As Scott lumbered back to the bench, finishing with nine points, two blocks and those career-high 12 boards, Miller was up and clapping and then walked toward his big man and patted him on the back as he passed.

“That’s how he’s been from Day One of our fall semester, all the way through the scrimmages, the exhibition and practices,” Miller said. “He’s by far one of the most improved players we have.”

As Scott put it afterward: “Overall I am playing the best basketball I ever played in my life right now.”

4. Archie likes Kyle Davis.

The sophomore guard made his first career start Friday and scored 13 points. Miller said he would have voted Davis a captain if he had a vote (it was a players-only vote) and said simply, “He’s a winner.”

“I like guys who practice and then play the same way,” Miller said. “That’s a great trait. He’s a tough-minded guy. He’s our best defender. He’s much more aggressive and confident on offense than he has been in the past.

5. The future is bright.

Two new Dayton recruits, Wayne forward Xeyrius Williams and St. Henry forward Ryan Mikesell, watched the game from behind the UD bench. They signed national letters of intent earlier this week along with guard John Crosby, of New Hampton School (N.H.), and forward Sam Miller, of Gonzaga High School in Washington, D.C.

Miller raved about the new recruiting class earlier in the week in UD’s press release and called it his most-balanced class when asked about it after Friday’s victory.

The interesting thing about the class is with four players coming in, Dayton would have 14 scholarship players for the 2015-16 if everyone were to return. Division I teams are limited to 13 scholarships.

I asked Miller about the scholarship situation last night.

“Since I’ve been here, on average, we’ve had six guys a year coming in and out,” Miller said. “With 600 transfers a year right now, that’s pretty much a regular rotation. To be able to be the best you can be, one of the things you have to do is prepare for the unpreparable, which is what we’re doing.”

Here’s an interesting piece about teams “oversigning” from ESPN.


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