Game No. 5 recap: Dayton 75, Illinois-Chicago 41

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Kendall Pollard makes his first career 3-pointer Saturday. David Jablonski/Staff

I walked into the postgame press conference Saturday with Archie Miller (interview here), and for the first time ever, I was the only media member present. Was there another game going on or something? As someone pointed out on Facebook, that’s not a press conference. That’s an exclusive interview.

While it would have been to cover Ohio State vs. Michigan, my perfectly good credential for that game sat unused at home. I was more than happy to cover the Flyers because they’re my priority, and while their 75-41 victory over Illinois-Chicago (photos here) wasn’t a good game in a dramatic sense, it did tells us a little more about the Flyers.

Illinois-Chicago is not a good team and had almost no shot at beating UD, but it’s a good sign for Dayton that it not only beat the Flames, it did so easily, leading by as many as 38 points at one point.

It’s not a game that will help UD’s RPI (UIC is 310th out of 351 right now), but at the very least, it provides a good transition from the games in Puerto Rico to the rest of the games in December.

Here are five things we learned Saturday:

1. Nine players is better than eight.

Ryan Bass debuted for the Flyers and played 11 minutes. The senior guard from Dunbar High School and Oakland University scored two points. More importantly, he helped run the point. Dayton now has experience and depth there with a senior, a sophomore, starter Scoochie Smith, and a freshman, Darrell Davis. It can also play a nine-man rotation now instead of eight.

Here’s an excerpt of my story on Bass last night:

Ryan Bass ran into a screen named Steve McElvene in practice three days before Dayton’s first exhibition game. For 2½ weeks, he recovered from a concussion in his dorm room. He didn’t watch TV or play video games. He wasn’t even allowed to use his cell phone.

His mom and girlfriend took care of him. His teammates, especially Kendall Pollard and Charles Cooke, brought him anything he needed.

On Saturday, the Dunbar High School and Oakland University graduate, a 5-foot-9 guard, finally returned the favor for the Flyers as he made his UD debut. He scored two points in 11 minutes in Dayton’s 75-41 victory over Illinois-Chicago at UD Arena.

Bass grew up dreaming of playing for the Flyers.

“I don’t even have a word for it,” Bass said. “It just felt really great. The energy and crowd was fun. I try to hype my teammates as much as I could. I bring them a lot of energy.”

2. Kendall Pollard can shoot the 3.

Maybe we didn’t learn that for certain, but Pollard did make his first career 3-pointer on his first attempt of the season. He missed his only two attempts last season. He’s shooting 50 percent at the free-throw line but is almost automatic under the rim, no matter hwo much traffic is around him. He’s 12-of-18 from the field (66 percent).

Here’s the lede of my game story,  which featured Pollard:

The shots fell. The lead grew. The Flyers smiled.

All this game lacked midway through the second half was a 3-pointer by Kendall Pollard. Then Pollard provided that, the first of his career. He grinned. The coaches laughed. At that point, Dayton knew everything it touched on this day would turn red and blue.

“If Kendall’s hitting 3s, it’s a good day,” guard Jordan Sibert said.

3. Devon Scott is producing.

The senior forward had 13 points and 10 rebounds. He’s averaging nine points and seven rebounds through five games. That’s more than double his numbers last season: 3.4 points and 2.7 rebounds.

“In the first half, I only had one or two boards because of foul trouble,” Scott said. “Coach just made it evident in the second half we were going to have to play. I think we all remember the Delaware State game (last season) when we were just dragging and dragging. The gym was kind of down. He was like, ‘Just pick yourself up. Get yourself going.’ We all started playing harder. Me playing harder, the guys playing harder, it created a lot of loose ball and missed shots.”

4. Jordan Sibert is the star.

If there was any doubt after the first two games, Jordan Sibert has reminded everyone he will lead this team in scoring this season. He scored a season-high 22 points Saturday after scoring 20 against Boston College.

It’s the first time Sibert has scored 20 or more points in back-to-back games since he scored 20, 23 and 20 against Georgia Tech, Gonzaga and Baylor a year ago.

“Jordan’s playing good right now,” Miller said. “He’s got to keep working and stay out of foul trouble, but he knows he’s got to make shots for us. He’s got to be a scorer. I like the fact right now that he’s making his free throws as well. He’s getting there a few times a game.”

5. The schedule soon gets tougher.

The Flyers shouldn’t have any trouble winning Wednesday at Miami (2-3), but the next two Mid-American Conference teams on the schedule aren’t pushovers. Bowling Green is 3-0 and ranked 60th in the RPI. Eastern Michigan is 6-0 and ranked 161st.

The marquee opponents ahead on Dayton’s non-conference schedule are off to good starts. Arkansas is 5-0 and ranked 17th in the RPI. Georgia Tech is 4-1 and ranked 153rd. Ole Miss (134th in RPI) lost its opener to Charleston Southern but has won five straight since and beat No. 23 Creighton and Cincinnati in its last two games.

Dayton’s other non-conference opponent in December, Boston University, is 1-3 and lost 89-65 to No. 1 Kentucky.


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