For many years, I’ve held a Guess the Score Contest on Twitter for Dayton Flyers fans. In the beginning, I only did it for big games. Then I decided it was worth doing for every game. The fans love it. It’s an easy way to connect with them and give back to them.
The winners receive a selection of 4x6 photos — shot by me — of great UD moments since I started covering the Flyers in the 2013-14 season. Dominic Magnon, of Kettering, won the first contest this season on Monday, beating 144 other competitors. He was one point off the 73-46 final score as Dayton beat Lindenwood in the season opener.
Covering Flyers creates memorable images
I expect the Flyers will give us more memorable moments in the weeks and months ahead. I’ll need to get more photos printed down the street at Walgreens. Many people are repeat winners. I try to send them new photos.
None of this would be possible if I hadn’t added photography to my journalism game while covering the Wright State basketball beat in the 2012-13 season. The paper gave me a fancy DLSR camera. I had never used more than a point-and-shoot, which is not good enough when people are moving.
By 2012, I had already been shooting video at every game I covered at the high school and college level for five years. That gave me something more useful to do during games than just taking notes. My wife, Barbara Perenic, is a photographer — now with the Columbus Dispatch — and she gave me some pointers on how to use Canon Mark IV. Mostly I learned by trial and error, which is possible with digital cameras. I would have wasted a fortune in film learning that way 25 years ago.
I snapped hundreds of thousands of photos of the Flyers over the last nine seasons and close to 1,800 on Monday. Thirty nine of those made it into this photo gallery. That’s just the start. I plan to be at all 31 games in the regular season, including tonight’s game against SMU, and whatever postseason games that follow.
Fans get their wish with tonight’s jerseys
It’s not quite right to call the uniforms Dayton will wear Friday night against SMU throwback jerseys. They are closer to the current jerseys than any old ones because the “Dayton” across the front remains the same, but the colors are a throwback. Fans have wanted a return to the Marianist Blue, even if it’s only for one night, for years, and they’ll get their wish for the second game of the season. The fate of the uniforms in future games could depend on how UD does tonight.
I got my first peek at the jerseys early Thursday afternoon and talked to Dayton Senior Associate Athletics Director Robby Poteat at 3 p.m., four hours before the big reveal on social media.
“We tried to get it going a couple of years ago,” Poteat said. “We were looking at them in 2019-20, and then COVID happened, and it kind of fell apart. It was tough to get a normal set of jerseys, let alone an extra set. The stars have to align. The answer is much more basic than fans want. If the players and coaches want them and they’re on board, you’re like, ‘OK, let’s give it a shot.’ I know it’s been a fan favorite for a number of years.”
Season opening win wasn’t perfect, but ...
Dayton’s season opener went about as everyone expected. It was far from a perfect performance by the Flyers, who missed 13 3-pointers in a row at one point, but the only question entering the final minutes was, “Would they cover the spread?” That’s a fair question these days now with legalized sports gambling coming to Ohio in January.
Dayton was a 31½-point favorite and had a 34-point lead at one point but saw the advantage dwindle in the final minutes after the starters left the game. The 27-point margin was still Dayton’s largest in an opener since it beat Austin Peay 96-68 in the first game of the 2016-17 season. In coach Anthony Grant’s first five seasons, the Flyers beat their-season opening opponents — Ball State, North Florida, Indiana State, Eastern Illinois and Illinois-Chicago — by a total of 27 points.
“It felt really good to be able to play in front of fans,” Dayton forward Mustapha Amzil said. “It was a good game from us. We played the way we wanted to play and were able to keep the lead from the beginning to the end.”
A beautiful moment for ‘Mongolian Mike’
After the game Monday, I helped Tom Archdeacon connect with Bayarmagnai Baika Puntsag, a consul at the Consulate General of Mongolia in San Francisco. I only know Puntsag through Twitter, where has been active in sharing anything I post about Mike Sharavjamts.
Puntsag provided a unique perspective about what it means for people back in Mongolia to see Sharavjamts not only playing Division I basketball in the United States — he’s the first Mongolian citizen to do so — but also starting and excelling in his first game. He had 10 points and five assists against Lindenwood.
The game started at 8 a.m. in Mongolia.
“Unfortunately they couldn’t watch it live on TV, so they were waiting for any news we could give them,” Puntsag told Archdeacon. “Especially the young people, they all know of Mike and were eager for the stats and how he was playing. So we were busy with Facebook groups, telling them everything we could.”
Puntsag put out a request on Twitter for people to send him ticket stubs. Of course, those don’t exist anymore at UD because of digital ticketing, but I mailed him printouts of the box scores so he would have a memento from the game.
Georgia transfer Baker will redshirt in first season
The only real news to come out of the postgame press conference Monday was about Georgia transfer Tyrone Baker. I asked Grant if he didn’t play because he was stuck behind DaRon Holmes II and Toumani Camara on the depth chart, and Grant revealed Baker didn’t play because they plan to redshirt him this season.
That was somewhat surprising news because it means Dayton has seven available scholarship players at the moment with three players injured (Malachi Smith, Koby Brea and Richard Amaefule) and another suspended (Kaleb Washington). It’s not surprising when you consider Dayton has had players redshirt every season of the Grant era.
Baker falls into the category of players redshirting because they wouldn’t get enough playing time and need time to work on their game and their body. Moulaye Sissoko was in a similar situation in the 2019-20 season.
As for the injured players, based on what I’ve heard — not from Grant, who does not give any timetables on injuries — I’d expect Brea to be back by the time Dayton plays in the Battle 4 Atlantis later this month if not before then. I’d be surprised if Smith plays before December. I have no idea how long Amaefule will be out because he’s been injured for so long, and even if he does return, it’s hard to imagine him jumping into the rotation unless there are more injuries.
Each week, I’ll spotlight news from around the A-10 or other news that might interest Flyer fans.
🏀 Dayton has no desire to restart the Gem City Jam and play at Wright State, but another program from the Atlantic 10 Conference picked up a solid road victory at the Nutter Center on Wednesday. Davidson, the reigning A-10 regular-season champion, overcame a 21-point deficit to beat Wright State 102-97 in double overtime. The Wildcats beat Guilford 87-64 in their opener Monday and are off to a 2-0 start under new coach Matt McKillop.
🏀 Andy Farrell, the Carroll High School graduate who’s the special assistant to the head coach and recruiting coordinator for the Flyers, matched Malachi Smith with a protective boot on his foot Monday. Obviously, lower body injuries are contagious at UD.
On the way to the game Monday, I listened to a podcast featuring an interview with Farrell. The Hoops Head podcast touched on all aspects of Farrell’s career. He also talked about Dayton’s staff.
“Our staff is very, very elite at figuring out how can we still get player development within the confines of a 3-on-0 drill that’s not designed for player development,” Farrell said.
🏀 Dayton fan David Mitchell started a Facebook show, “Straight from the Source,” last year and has had numerous guests, including myself and most recently DaRon Holmes II and his parents, DaRon and Tomika.
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