ANALYSIS: How Anthony Grant’s first seven Dayton teams compare

Game has changed dramatically by transfer portal, NIL during UD coach’s tenure

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Anthony Grant has now coached the Dayton Flyers longer than his predecessor.

Archie Miller left UD for Indiana in the same month he led the Flyers to a fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance in his seventh season. Grant’s seventh season ended with a loss to Arizona in the second round of the NCAA tournament in March. His eighth season is well underway if you count the busy spring recruiting season that has seen UD lose five players to the transfer portal and add three (so far).

Miller was 139-63 at Dayton (.688) in seven seasons. Grant is 149-72 (.674) after seven seasons.

Miller’s predecessor, Brian Gregory, led the program for eight years. After seven years, he had a record of 150-80 (.652). Prior to Gregory, Oliver Purnell coached Dayton for nine seasons. His record after seven seasons was 110-99 (.526).

Miller outdid all the coaches with four NCAA tournament appearances. Gregory had two in his tenure. Grant’s program has earned two bids, if you count the cancelled 2020 tournament. Purnell made the tournament twice in his last four seasons after rebuilding the program in the 1990s.

That’s a quick glance at how Dayton’s current coach compares to the most recent UD coaches. None of them can match what Grant’s own coach, the late Don Donoher, did in his first seven seasons: five NCAA tournament appearances, including a national runner-up finish, and a NIT championship and a 148-52 record (.740).

Now here’s a look at how Grant’s first seven teams compare:

Roster makeup

2017-18: The Flyers returned four players who received significant playing time the previous season on a senior-dominated team: redshirt junior Josh Cunningham; senior Darrell Davis; and juniors John Crosby and Xeyrius Williams. They had one sophomore with little experience: Trey Landers.

They had four true freshmen who were eligible to play (Jalen Crutcher, Jordan Davis, Jordan Pierce and Matej Svoboda) and one redshirt freshman (Kostas Antetokounmpo) who sat out the previous season. They had two players who couldn’t play: the injured Ryan Mikesell and Obi Toppin, an academic redshirt. Dayton used 12 of its 13 scholarships that season.

2018-19: The Flyers returned five players with significant experience. They added two newcomers to the mix in Toppin and junior college transfer Jhery Matos. They also had two freshmen: Dwayne Cohill and Frankie Policelli. Four of the 13 roster spots were taken by transfers who sat out the season: Ibi Watson; Rodney Chatman; Jordy Tshimanga; and Chase Johnson.

2019-20: The Flyers again returned five players who received major minutes the previous season — six if you count Matos, who played a big role before suffering a season-ending injury in the sixth game a year earlier. Two of the four transfers, Chatman and Tshimanga, had extensive experience at their previous schools.

Dayton added one freshman, Moulaye Sissoko, but decided to redshirt him. Dayton used 12 of its 13 roster spots, filling one of them in December when another freshman, Zimi Nwokeji, joined the roster.

2020-21: Dayton again returned five players who played major roles the previous season: Crutcher; Watson; Chatman; Tshimanga; and Johnson, who appeared in only eight games. The number would have been six, but Cohill missed the season after suffering an ACL tear in the fall.

Dayton had two redshirt freshmen who debuted: Sissoko and Nwokeji. It had three true freshmen: Koby Brea; Lukas Frazier; and R.J. Blakney. A fourth, Mustapha Amzil, joined the mix in December. He became Dayton’s 13th scholarship player.

Dayton also had one transfer, Elijah Weaver, who started playing in December when the NCAA declared all redshirts eligible.

2021-22: Dayton used all 13 of its scholarships for the third time in five seasons. It had six returning players: Weaver; Amzil; Brea; Blakney; Nwokeji; and Sissoko. Everyone in that group started at least two games the previous season except Sissoko.

Dayton had seven newcomers. Three were transfers: Toumani Camara (Georgia); Kobe Elvis (DePaul); and Richard Amaefule (East Tennessee State). Four were freshmen: DaRon Holmes II; Malachi Smith; Kaleb Washington; and Lynn Greer III.

2022-23: Dayton used 12 of its 13 scholarships. It returned all five starters: Holmes; Smith; Camara; Elvis; and Blakney. It returned its top reserves: Brea; and Amzil. It returned two other players who saw limited minutes, Nwokeji and Washington, and one player who redshirted, Amaefule.

The roster had one new transfer, Tyrone Baker, who played the previous season at Georgia, and one freshman, Mike Sharavjamts, of Mongolia. UD decided to redshirt Baker, and he entered the transfer portal in December. Washington also entered the portal the same month.

2023-24: Dayton filled all 13 scholarships but lost one scholarship player in the summer. Vasilije Erceg left the program after a brief stay on campus. It started the season with 12 scholarship players and then awarded the 13th scholarship to walk-on Brady Uhl in January.

Dayton returned three starters: Holmes; Smith, who missed the entire season after suffering a knee injury in the opener; and Elvis. It also returned Brea, who started 10 games the previous season. The other returner was Nwokeji, who played limited minutes the previous season.

The roster had four seven newcomers. Four were transfers: Isaac Jack (Buffalo); Enoch Cheeks (Robert Morris); Javon Bennett (Merrimack); and Nate Santos (Pittsburgh). Three were freshmen: Petras Padegimas; Marvel Allen; and Jaiun Simon. Allen and Simon redshirted.


2017-18: Cunningham was named the team MVP after the season. He led the team with 15.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.

2018-19: Crutcher beat out Toppin for the award.

2019-20: Toppin and Crutcher shared the award.

2020-21: Crutcher won his third straight MVP award, averaging 17.6 points per game.

2021-22: Holmes, Smith and Camara shared the team MVP award.

2022-23: Holmes, an A-10 first-team preseason selection, shared the MVP award with Camara.

2023-24: Holmes became the first Flyer to win the MVP award in his first three seasons with the program.

Standings and rankings

2017-18: Dayton was picked to finish fifth in the Atlantic 10 Conference preseason poll and finished ninth at 8-10. It ranked 103rd in the Ken Pomeroy ratings at the beginning of the season and ended at 172nd.

2018-19: Dayton was picked to finish sixth in the A-10 and placed third at 13-5. It climbed from 99th to 62nd in the Pomeroy ratings

2019-20: Dayton was picked to finish third in the A-10 and placed first with an 18-0 mark. It climbed from 55th to No. 4 in the Pomeroy ratings

2020-21: Dayton was picked third in the A-10 and placed seventh with a 9-7 mark. Pomeroy ranked Dayton 49th in his preseason ratings. It finished 87th.

2021-22: Dayton was picked to finish fifth and placed second fifth with a 14-4 league mark. Dayton started the season 84th in the Pomeroy ratings and finished 55th.

2022-23: Dayton was the preseason favorite in the A-10 and tied for second at 12-6. It started the season at No. 24 in the Pomeroy ratings and finished 79th.

2023-24: Dayton was picked to win the A-10 and finished third at 14-4. It climbed from No. 69 in the Pomeroy ratings at the beginning of the season to No. 32.

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