53 Reasons: NCAA tournament

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Dayton coach Archie Miller during exhibition game Saturday. David Jablonski/Staff


The 2015-16 college basketball season is just around the corner. In honor of the Flyers winning 53 games the last two seasons (and because I couldn’t come up with 2,015 reasons), I’m counting down 53 reasons (in no particular order) to look forward to the season.

Follow the blog between now and the season opener against Southeast Missouri State on Nov. 13. I will have four to five updates per week.

I’ll post links on Twitter (@DavidPJablonski) and on my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/DavidPatrickJablonski.

No. 4: NCAA tournament

The Flyers have a unique opportunity this season. Only the 2004-05, 1985-86 and 1970-71 Dayton teams have had a chance to reach the NCAA tournament for a third straight year. Dayton has played in the big dance three straight seasons only once (1965-67).

A year after playing in the 1967 NCAA championship game, the Flyers returned leading scorer Don May, a senior, and finished 21-9 and won the NIT. The 1970-71 team, which returned its leading scorer, senior Ken May, finished 18-9 and lost to Duke in the first round of the NIT.

The 1985-86 team returned its top scorer, Dave Colbert, from a team that finished 19-10 and lost to Villanova in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Flyers finished 17-13 and lost to McNeese State in the first round of the nIT.

After making the NCAA tournament in Oliver Purnell’s last season and Brian Gregory’s first season, the Flyers finished 18-11 in 2004-05. They were dealing with the loss of three seniors (Ramod Marshall, Keith Waleskowski and Sean Finn) who averaged 41 points between them.

The current Flyers have as good a chance as any of those teams of hearing their name called on Selection Sunday, especially if Dyshawn Pierre returns to the team and plays.

Dayton’s success in the non-conference schedule has helped it make the tournament the last two years. That won’t be any different this season, though the Flyers could take the pressure off by winning the A-10 tournament.

The Alabama, Iowa, Vanderbilt and Arkansas games represent opportunities to record strong RPI victories. If Dayton beats Iowa in Orlando, it likely will play Notre Dame in the second round.

The Flyers have won the first game of their holiday tournament three times in Miller’s first four seasons. Their victory over Gonzaga in Maui two years ago gave them a date with Baylor. Last year, they played Connecticut after beating Texas A&M.

“Every game means a lot,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said last Thursday. “There’s good wins that don’t mean a whole lot on paper, and at the end of the year, you look at them and say, ‘Wow, what an important game.’ What you hope to do with your non-conference schedule is put some of these people on your schedule that you think down the line might mean a lot to you. We have our work cut out for us. There’s a lot of teams on our schedule that are coming in very veteran oriented or with power-conference size. As I look at us and how we stack up, we’re going to have to have some young guys step up. Some young guys are going to have to be baptized by fire.”

An NCAA appearance would be Dayton’s 17th. It is 19-18 all time. Archie Miller is 5-2. He and Don Donoher (11-10) are the only UD coaches with multiple NCAA tournament victories.

Among A-10 teams, Dayton ranks second in NCAA appearances behind St. Joseph’s (18). The Hawks are 19-24 in the tournament.

Davidson (13), VCU (11), La Salle (11) and George Washington (10) are the other current A-10 teams that have reached the NCAA tournament 10 times for more. St. Louis was the last A-10 team to reach the tournament three seasons in a row (2012-14).


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