Analysis: Five takeaways from Dayton’s victory against Robert Morris

Smith’s return, Holmes’ return to form among stories in fourth game of the season

Malachi Smith wore his trademark smile most of the day Saturday: while dancing with his teammates in the tunnel just before taking the court at UD Arena; after getting his first layup of the season to fall in the first half; and after connecting with fellow sophomore DaRon Holmes II for a score for the first time this season.

About five weeks after injuring his ankle, Smith returned to action for Dayton in a 60-51 victory against Robert Morris. It was far from a great performance for Dayton against a program that won 12 games total in the last two seasons, but the biggest news of the day was the return of Smith, who missed not only the first three games but close to half of the preseason.

“It felt good to finally be back on the court at UD Arena,” Smith said.

Here are five takeaways from Dayton’s third victory:

1. Smith made the Flyers whole again — almost: Dayton got another key player back in its previous game at UNLV, Koby Brea, but he missed this game with an illness, so the wait for a fully healthy team continues.

Brea was one of several players stricken by a bug that has hit campus, Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. Toumani Camara and Mike Sharavjamts were also affected, though both were able to play against Robert Morris. Brea sat on the bench in street clothes.

With different players missing practice each day, Grant has seen the rhythm of the offense affected, but the Flyers have stayed active on the other side of the court.

Dayton’s first four opponents are shooting 26.7% from 3-point range and 40.3% from 2-point range.

“It’s great that our defense is in position right now,” Grant said, “where it gives us a chance every single night when we bring it the way we’re capable of bringing it.”

Explore» MORE ON GAME: Flyers overcome injuries and illnesses

2. DaRon Holmes II bounced back from a sub-par performance: Holmes had 20 points against Southern Methodist, two points against UNLV and 18 against Robert Morris. He leads Dayton with 13.3 points per game through four games.

“Deuce is one of the big guys on this team,” forward Mustapha Amzil said. “We need to get the ball inside to him. He’s big and skilled. It’s hard for other teams to guard him, and whenever he gets the ball, they usually double him, which leaves other guys open.”

3. Mike Sharavjamts will have to adjust to a new role: Dayton’s only freshman started the first three games and averaged 13.3 points per game. Smith took his place in the starting lineup Saturday.

“I’m sure it’ll be an adjustment,” Grant said. “As you go through the season, you start to establish roles and consistencies and things like that. You’ve got to play the game. I’ve been doing this for a long time, so for me, it’s almost like it’s on a loop so to speak in terms of understanding how guys have to figure out how to be great at what they’re good at and play to their strengths and stay in that mindset.”

Explore» PHOTOS: Dayton vs. Robert Morris

4. Camara continues to be a rounding machine: Dayton’s only fourth-year player grabbed 14 rebounds and is averaging 12.3 despite not playing the second half against UNLV because of a knee injury. He also scored a season-high 11 points on 5-of-11 shooting.

5. Dayton has yet to have a breakout game from 3-point range: The Flyers made 7 of 28 3-pointers and have shot 31% or worse in every game. It was the same story last season in the first four games, but they lost three of those.

STAR OF THE GAME

Holmes made 7 of 9 shots from the field and even made his second career 3-pointer on his way to 18 points. He scored on Dayton’s first possession, matching his points total from Tuesday in the opening minute.

STAT OF THE GAME

Dayton threw at least three passes into the stands but committed 12 turnovers, half of what they had against UNLV.

LOOKING AHEAD

Dayton flies to the Bahamas on Monday and plays Wisconsin (3-0) in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. It will play Kansas or North Carolina State in the second game of the tournament on Thursday.

Wisconsin opened the season with victories against South Dakota, Stanford and Green Bay and will not play between Tuesday and its game against Dayton.

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