The Dayton Flyers didn’t escape Connecticut until Monday afternoon. A planned trip home Sunday night after a 72-67 loss to Tulsa at Mohegan Sun Arena didn’t happen because of mechanical issues with their charter flight.
“It ended up being a long day,” said Dayton coach Anthony Grant on Monday on WHIO Radio. “Not the way we planned it.”
The team returned to campus at 3:30 p.m. Monday — more than 18 hours after they expected to be back — and practiced at 5 p.m. They had no time to waste with a game at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Western Michigan at UD Arena.
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Here are four things to know about the game and where Dayton (5-5) stands with 21 games to play in the regular season:
Easier road: Dayton (5-5) enters a stretch of six games, five of them at home, in which it has a better than 70 percent chance of winning every game, according to KenPom.com.
The next six opponents — Western Michigan, Presbyterian, Georgia Southern, Richmond, George Washington and Massachusetts — have a combined record of 31-32, an average Pomeroy rating of 199 and an average NET ranking (NCAA Evaluation Tool) of 213.
Dayton’s previous seven 0pponents had a record of 55-17, an average Pomeroy rating of 71 and an average NET ranking of 60, and each of those numbers take a hit because of Detroit Mercy (3-8), which ranks 285th in the Pomeroy ratings and 228th in the NET.
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In summary, Dayton should be able to rack up victories in the next three weeks but not improve its NCAA tournament resume. It had six chances to do that in the last three weeks but managed to beat only Butler.
“We’ve got three non-conference games left as we prepare for conference,” Grant said. “I think this team has still got room to improve. That’s what we talked about after the game. Obviously, there’s a level of disappointment and some frustration in terms of another opportunity we didn’t take advantage of with the Tulsa game, but as I told them after the game, this is a long season and we’ve just got to continue to make sure we’re moving in the right direction, learning from each game and continuing to understand we can get better and we will get better. We want to be at our best as we approach conference.”
Back to MAC: Dayton won three games against Mid-American Conference schools last season and has won 10 straight games against the conference since losing to Miami and Buffalo in November 2011.
The Flyers have played Western Michigan once, winning 85-80 in 1972 at UD Arena. This Western Michigan team (5-5) played No. 4 Michigan well in its last game, cutting the deficit to five points four times in the final five minutes before losing 70-62. However, the Broncos also have a 71-66 loss at home to USC Upstate, which ranks 327th in the Pomeroy ratings, on their resume.
Tall challenge: Among the players to watch from Western Michigan is Seth Dugan, a 7-foot center who has increased his scoring average from 5.2 as a junior to 16.6 as a senior.
Sophomore guard Michael Flowers, who scored 31 against Michigan, ranks second on the team behind Dugan in scoring with 15.3 points per game.
Looking back: After watching tape of the Tulsa game, Grant mentioned Tulsa’s decision to stay with a zone defense the entire game and his team’s inability to solve the zone as one factor in the loss.
Dayton shot 40.7 percent from the field. That was its second-worst percentage of the season. Its 21.7 percent 3-point shooting (5 of 23) was also its second-worst mark.
“We could never get consistency offensively in terms of finding the quality shots we needed,” Grant said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well. You go through the game, and there were opportunities we didn’t take advantage of. I’ve seen the game two or three times since it ended. At the end of the day, we didn’t play to the identity that’s allowed us to be successful. Defensively, we took a step back. We need to make sure we get that fixed.”