Newsletter: Winning beat rolls on for Flyers

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Winning beat rolls on for Flyers

While the Dayton Flyers won both their games since I last wrote this newsletter a week ago, there was one big loss in the past week. Most of the deep-dish pizza I ordered in Chicago last Friday at Pequod’s Pizza went to waste. I managed to inhale two pieces, which is equal to about six pieces of Marion’s, but had to put the rest in a box. My hotel room didn’t have a fridge, and I didn’t get to finish it. My waistline exhaled.

On Twitter, I wrote, “I ordered too much.”

“No such thing as too much Pequod’s,” someone wrote in response.

While there was time for a brief moment of tourism in Chicago, there was no time to do anything more than pick up the rental car and get on the highway Wednesday when I flew to the game in Massachusetts. I know the drive from the Hartford, Conn., airport to Amherst, Mass., well and have visited the James Naismith statue in Springfield and the Dr. Seuss memorial in Springfield in the past. This time, my flight landed at 3:48 p.m. for a 7 p.m. game. I drove straight to the Mullins Center with barely a glance at the Basketball Hall of Fame, which is right off Interstate 91.

The A-10 is a great conference for travel, as compared to say the Big Ten or the Horizon League, but part of me wants Dayton to move to a new conference just so I can visit new cities. This was my fifth trip to UMass in 10 years. I’m going to St. Louis next week for the 10th time in 10 seasons.

» PHOTOS: Dayton vs. UMass

As for the Flyers, they’ve made themselves at home on the road in recent weeks with three straight road victories after three straight road losses. They never trailed in the last two games at Loyola Chicago and UMass. That’s as good a sign as any of their dominance. Hopes are once again rising for the Flyer Faithful — and at the perfect time with the start of March five days away.

Dayton hitting its stride in February

Without a doubt, Sister Jean, 103, is the oldest person I’ve ever photographed. I wondered if she would be at the game last Friday at Loyola. Turns out, she still goes to every game. She not only appeared at Gentile Arena, she read a speech before the game and made one subtle joke about the officiating.

» PHOTOS: Dayton vs. Loyola

“May the referees call the game with equity,” she said.

I think Dayton coach Anthony Grant should use that line with the officials the next time he’s upset with a call.

Sister Jean hoped for a victory for the Ramblers in her pregame speech but got nothing close to it. Loyola flirted with an upset of Dayton at UD Arena weeks earlier. This game was not close. The Flyers ran away with a 65-49 victory.

A quote from DaRon Holmes II to me after the game stood out. He’s obviously been on social media a bit. Fans were harsh on this team earlier this season. They had a right to be pessimistic. There are ways of criticizing the team without being a jerk, though, and many fans can’t quite grasp that or just don’t care. Those are the fans Holmes was talking about here. He appreciates the majority of fans.

“We’re rolling,” Dayton forward DaRon Holmes II said. “We had a lot of people who did not believe in us, and we want them to continue to not believe in us. We’re going to keep rolling regardless. For the ones who are sticking around through our ups and downs, we really appreciate you guys, and we thank you.”

A new friendly rivalry in the A-10

Grant made a rare appearance at a press conference on the road Wednesday because the UMass reporters wanted to ask him about coaching against his friend Frank Martin. Grant revealed Martin’s son, Brandon, who’s a graduate student on the UMass roster, is his godson. Martin also spoke at length about Grant after Dayton’s 72-54 victory.

“Watching him yakking at his team and fighting with the referees, that made me really happy because the last 10 months have been difficult for him,” Martin said. “That’s his passion. It’s helping young people. Our team didn’t put up a fight in the second half, and I’m a lot of things, but I’m a fighter and when my side doesn’t fight, I don’t go home very happy. But knowing there’s a certain spirit that he’s coaching his team with right now gives me peace. He’s in a good place right now.”

Martin was not referring to Dayton’s up-and-down season when he mentioned Grant’s difficult 10 months. That was a reference to Grant losing his daughter, Jayda, last June.

Martin also made a pitch to get his friend’s team into the NCAA tournament.

“They’re good,” Martin said. “If anybody would ever asked me what I think for NCAA purposes as far as our league goes, you can’t evaluate Dayton the first 20 games of the year. You’re playing without Kobe Elvis and without Malachi Smith. How the hell are you gonna play without your starting guards? And they still were good. Now they got them both back and rolling right now. They should be judged as who they are with those guys in the lineup. For anyone that insinuate that they gotta win the tournament that get into the NCAA tournament. It’s a joke. That’s a real good team.”

Fast Break

Each week, I’ll spotlight news from around the A-10 or other news that might interest Flyer fans.

🏀 Former Dayton guard Dwayne Cohill, a key reserve on the 29-2 team of 2019-20, was named to the All-Horizon League academic team this week. He has 3.56 grade-point average with a major in general studies.

🏀 Ossining High School retired Obi Toppin’s number earlier this month. That’s probably not going to happen at Dayton, which does not retire numbers. Toppin wore No. 1 at Ossining as he did at Dayton and as he does with the New York Knicks.

🏀 A new mock draft by has Holmes going to the Portland Trail Blazers with the No. 22 pick.

What do you want to know about the Flyers?

I want to hear from you. Reach out to me directly at with your questions and feedback on the team or this newsletter.

Also be sure to follow our Flyer Nation Facebook page for the latest news on the team. I’ll have updates, photos and videos on Twitter, as well.

About the Author