UD gets good news on injuries suffered by starting guards
Malachi Smith wore a protective boot again — this time on his left ankle. He also used crutches, which he didn’t have earlier in the season when he was recovering from a right ankle injury. Kobe Elvis joined him in the crutches club, though he didn’t have a brace or any other visible support on the knee he injured Friday in the Bahamas.
The two Dayton Flyers starting guards wore smiles on the bench for the most part Wednesday as they watched their teammates beat Western Michigan 67-47 at UD Arena. Coach Anthony Grant said Monday they would be sidelined for the “foreseeable future” after suffering injuries Friday in the final minutes of a 79-75 overtime loss to Brigham Young, and he elaborated on his comments after this game.
“They both have lower-body injuries,” said Grant with a laugh as he used his favorite vague term. “Malachi’s ankle, I think it’s just a matter of letting that heal. I don’t know that there’s a timetable. But at the same time, from what we’ve been able to determine right now, there’s no fracture, no surgery, anything like that, so it’s just a matter of healing, letting that process take care of itself.
“With Kobe Elvis, the great news is that it doesn’t look like surgery will be required, and he will be able to most likely — unless there’s a setback — return at some point. We just don’t know what the timetable will be. So that was great news to get that because when those things happen, you always think the worst and it’s a blessing that it wasn’t what we all thought it could have been. So hopefully at some point, we’ll get both of those guys back during the course of the season.”
That was bigger news than Dayton’s expected victory against a Western Michigan program rebuilding under Tom Izzo’s longtime assistant coach Dwayne Stephens. Dayton evened its record at 4-4. The Broncos slipped to 2-6.
Credit: David Jablonski
Here are five takeaways from Dayton’s eighth game:
1. Dayton’s big men dominated: DaRon Holmes II had 24 points and 10 rebounds. Mustapha Amzil also had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Toumani Camara had 17 points.
Dayton took a step back in the right direction from an 0-3 finish at the Battle 4 Atlantis.
“We had a lot of things to change,” Camara said. “Everybody was down after the Bahamas trip, but we were able to bounce back and refocus on ourselves. We were able to find a way to exploit the new tools that we have. I think we’ve been doing a good job. We still have a lot of work to do, but I think we’re going forward.”
2. Western Michigan competed well until the final minutes: Dayton led from start to finish but let the Broncos stay within single digits until the final seven minutes. Dayton put the game away with a 19-4 run.
Grant praised Stephens and said he would build a great program in time.
“They were challenging,” Grant said. “They put us in situations in transition. Great rebounding team. We did a really good job, I thought, defensively for the most part. They had a run there at the end of the half, and then I thought it was an even ballgame really most of the second half until the last seven or eight minutes. The guys did a great job of closing the game out with the level of force that we need to be able to play with. It was a good game for us and a good next step.”
3. Mike Sharavjamts played a bigger role: The freshman point guard had eight assists but also five turnovers in just short of 35 minutes. He missed all five of his 3-point attempts.
Sharavjamts provided one of the highlights of the night with a behind-the-back pass to Amzil for a basket in the second half.
“I think he’s progressing really well,” Grant said. “He’s had to play multiple positions for us. He’s started at the two and played some one and played the three. Those roles require different things, so for a freshman to come in and do that, it’s really rare. He’s got a really high basketball IQ, and he plays the game with poise. That breeds confidence in the other guys on the floor.”
4. Dayton got two players back: While Smith and Elvis were sidelined, Koby Brea returned after missing four games with an illness. He had three rebounds but missed all four of his shot attempts in 14 minutes.
Kaleb Washington, who was suspended earlier in the season and not in uniform in the Bahamas, entered the game in the final minute to make his season debut.
“I think the biggest thing with him is understanding the consistency and the habits and the expectations and the standards that we want him to have,” Grant said. “It’s really on him at this stage to do the things from a physical standpoint. He’s had some injuries he’s had to deal with obviously coming off the suspension. But there’s certainly an opportunity. For him, there’s also the understanding that, ‘This is what is required in order for me to get out there and try to do what I can to help the team.’”
Dayton associate head coach Ricardo Greer missed the game with an illness, and John Brannen took his spot on the bench.
Forward Tyrone Baker, who is redshirting this season, also was not on the bench. Grant said he’s going through “some stuff,” but didn’t elaborate.
5. Dayton’s outside shooting continues to be an issue: The Flyers made 3 of 16 3-pointers (18.8%). Mustapha Amzil made 1 of 6. The only other makes belonged to Toumani Camara, who made 2 of 2 after making 1 of 15 in the first seven games.
STAR OF THE GAME
DaRon Holmes II topped 20 points for the third time with a season-high 24 points. He also got to the free-throw line more than he has all season, making 8 of 14.
STAT OF THE GAME
Dayton held Western Michigan to 4-of-26 shooting from 3-point range. The Broncos shot better than 40% in four of their first six games.
Dayton plays Southeastern Louisiana (4-4) at 2 p.m. Saturday at UD Arena. Xavier beat the Lions 95-63 at the Cintas Center on Wednesday. Southeastern Louisiana has one impressive victory. It won 76-72 at Wyoming on Nov. 13.
Southeastern Louisiana at Dayton, 2 p.m., ESPN+; 1290, 95.7