Five things about Dayton vs. Oklahoma

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The Flyers leave the court after beating Providence. David Jablonski/Staff


The Dayton Flyers woke up Sunday morning as the only remaining A-10 team in the big dance and as one of two Ohio teams still alive. They’ll try to match Xavier by earning a Sweet 16 berth tonight.

Columbus 2015 is Buffalo 2014, a town taken over by the Flyer Faithful. The Sooners will be playing a road game at 6:10, even if this officially a neutral court game.

Lets’ look ahead 10 hours to the matchup. Here are five things to know before the game:

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John Miller and Leah Miller on Friday. David Jablonski/Staff

1. Basketball is a family affair for the Millers.

From my main story today:

The Dayton Flyers won a basketball game early Saturday morning. The true star of the show, however, might have been the little girl in the first row across the court from their bench.

Archie Miller’s 10-year-old daughter Leah didn’t get to bed until after 1 a.m., not long after the No. 11 seed Flyers finished off No. 6 seed Providence 66-53 at Nationwide Arena. At 10 the next morning, Leah competed in a gymnastics meet in Hilliard and took first place.

“She takes after her mother,” Archie said Saturday.

The Millers hope their winning streak continues at 6:10 p.m. today when Dayton (27-8) plays No. 3 seed Oklahoma (23-10) in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. Expect Morgan Miller, Archie’s wife and always one of the more animated fans in the stands, and John Miller, Archie’s dad, to join Leah in the same spot at Nationwide Arena.

Archie wouldn’t have it any other way.

“When you get to do this thing the way we’re doing it, it’s so stressful and you’re away a lot,” Miller said. “When you’re able to compete on this type of stage and your family can be a part of it, you want them to enjoy it as much as you. I get a kick out of Leah and them wanting to be involved because they’re not around practices a lot. When they do show up, they’re excited to be there.”


 

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Flyers wait to take the court Friday. David Jablonski/Staff

2. Last year has carried over to this season.

The Flyers are entering territory rarely tread by this program.  This kind of success in the NCAA tournament in back-to-back years hasn’t happened since the Don Donoher era in the 1960s. Donoher took the Flyers to the Sweet 16 in 1965 and 1966 and to the national championship game in 1967.

Tom Archdeacon wrote about the lessons this team learned on its way to the Elite Eight last March.

Coming into tonight’s game, that makes them 5-1 in the NCAA Tournament over two years..

And that was a point Archie Miller brought home to his team before it played No. 6 seed and slightly favored Providence here.

Senior guard Jordan Sibert said their coach told them they’ve won four tournament games and Providence hadn’t won any.

“And in that we were able to turn it on and keep it on,” Sibert said. “It’s all a mindset. Winning is a mindset and now we understand how to do it. Especially after last year, you kind of get used to the feeling of what it’s like to be on the biggest stage in college basketball. You get used to the lights and you get used to just being in the atmosphere.”

Miller agreed: “There are five players — Bobby (Wehrli) didn’t play last year — who played the majority of our minutes last year that have five NCAA Tournament wins (now). That’s a heck of a deal. It’s hard to get one win let alone five of them. And I think when they take the floor they know what it feels like.

“Last year created a confidence and it’s carried over to this year.”


 

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Scoochie Smith on Friday. David Jablonski/Staff

3. Don’t forget the training staff.

I’m going to try not to ask these players anymore if they’re tired. They’re tired of that question. That’s for sure. Anyway somebody else will ask it anyway.

If they’re not tired, it’s because of the top-notch treatment they get between games. I wrote about that yesterday.

The Dayton Flyers’ bench lacked a familiar face Friday night when the team played Providence in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Nationwide Arena. Assistant athletic trainer Mike Mulcahey missed the game to attend his sister’s wedding.

Nate Seymour, manager of sports medicine at UD, filled in for Mulcahey, who will return when No. 11 seed Dayton plays No. 3 seed Oklahoma at 6:10 p.m. today in the third round.

“Mike wrote the script,” said Seymour, a 1994 UD graduate who has worked at the university for 16 years. “I’m just following what he wants us to do. The thing I want is continuity with these players.”

With just seven players, five of whom play more than 30 minutes per game, the Flyers need all the attention the trainers can provide.

A room at their hotel this weekend is filled with the tools of the trade: STEM machines, compression boots, ice packs, etc. The trainers’ goal is to limit inflammation of tendons, ligaments and muscles and treat any nagging injuries.

“Sometimes it’s duct tape and popsicle sticks,” Seymour said, “but we keep strapping them together and getting them back out there.”


 

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Archie Miller on Friday. David Jablonski/Staff

4. This game won’t look anything like the last Dayton-Oklahoma game.

I asked fans again to predict the score on Twitter. Not surprisingly, no one picked 151-99. That was the crazy score the last time these teams played in 1987. That’s still the most points Dayton has allowed and the highest-scoring game in UD history.

From the AP:

Stacey King scored 31 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and blocked 6 shots last night in Honolulu to lead Oklahoma (No. 12 AP, No. 13 UPI) to a 151-99 thrashing of Dayton in the Chaminade Christmas Classic.

The Sooners (9-0) broke 100 points for the seventh time this season. They had halves of 72 and 79 points, converting 60 of 102 shots, including 11 of 25 three-pointers.

The Sooners jumped to a 39-20 lead. The closest the Flyers (7-2) came after that was 56-44 with 2 minutes, 46 seconds left in the first half, but the Sooners closed the half with a 16-2 run, for a 72-46 lead. Oklahoma outscored Dayton by 41-17 in the first 10 minutes of the second half.


 

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Jeremiah Bonsu, second from left. David Jablonski/Staff

5. This weekend is a homecoming for one Flyer.

The Columbus Dispatch’s Bill Rabinowitz, a Dayton native, featured local graduate Jeremiah Bonsu, a walk-on who started practicing with the team midway through the season.

Jeremiah Bonsu might be the most unlikely player on an NCAA tournament roster.

The Pickerington North graduate is the ninth player on the Dayton Flyers roster, and you wouldn’t have found him in any of the recruiting service rankings coming out of high school. He was cut from the team his first three years at Pickerington North and was a reserve his senior season.

“I barely played,” he said. “And that was a bad year for us, too. I came here and thought my basketball career was over.”


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