Battle 4 Atlantis: Dayton’s thoughts with injured players after loss to BYU

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Anthony Grant on Malachi Smith and Kobe Elvis: ‘We don’t know the extent of the injuries right now

NASSAU, Bahamas — The word of the day for fans of the Dayton Flyers, especially the ones at Imperial Arena all week, was disaster. One fan referred to Paradise Island, the site of the Battle 4 Atlantis, as “Disaster Island” as he left the game Friday.

Three losses in three days was bad enough. The nature of the losses — Dayton had a chance to win two of the games in the final seconds — hurt even more. The worse news came Friday when Dayton lost first Kobe Elvis and then Malachi Smith to injuries in the final seven minutes of the second half in a 79-75 overtime loss to Brigham Young in the seventh-place game.

Smith, who missed most of the preseason and first three games with a right ankle injury, twisted his left ankle on a drive to the basket in the final seconds with the game tied at 64. He writhed on the ground in pain and was then carried to the locker room by coaches Ricardo Greer and Sean Damaska and trainer Mike Mulcahey. Smith missed the last two games of last season with a left ankle injury and also had an ankle issue in the preseason as a freshman.

Elvis left the game after hurting what appeared to be his knee on a drive to the basket with 6:49 to play. He was fouled on the play. He headed to the locker room with assistance from Mulcahey. Smith replaced him at the line and made two free throws as Dayton clung to a 58-52 lead.

BYU kept making 3-pointers, however, and completed a comeback from a 23-point first-half deficit and 16-point halftime deficit by dominating the overtime period. That was a relatively minor story for Dayton because of the injuries.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed in the results of the tournament,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “We knew this tournament would be very challenging. We had three games against high-quality competition. Obviously, the results of going 0-3 are hard. But what’s harder is the loss of two of our guys. We don’t know the extent of the injuries right now, but I think that’s probably the first thing on everybody’s mind right now in that locker room. We worried about those guys, so we’re going to love on them and make sure we support them.”

Dayton will fly home to Ohio at 4 p.m. on Saturday after five nights at the Atlantis resort. It arrived with a 3-1 record and hopes of building a NCAA tournament resume. It will leave with its first eighth-place finish at a November tournament since the 1992 Great Alaska Shootout.

Dayton opened the tournament Wednesday with a 14-point first-half performance in a 43-42 loss to Wisconsin. It gave up a game-deciding 17-0 run Thursday in a 76-64 loss to N.C. State. Then it opened the game against BYU with a 32-9 run in the first 14 minutes.

The Cougars (4-3) couldn’t make a shot early and couldn’t miss late. They made 13 of 27 3-pointers in the game and 9 of 17 in the second half and overtime. The loss of Toumani Camara, who fouled out with 2:41 to play, also hurt Dayton down the stretch.

“I probably didn’t do a great job preparing us for this game,” BYU coach Mark Pope said. We really started out on our heels. We have some some some holes in our game right now that we’re trying to address. Guys were being a little bit cautious. And Dayton has a great team. They were in the top 25 a week ago. They’re veteran guys, and they know how to play together and have been through these wars. All of that put together got us off to a tough start, but I couldn’t be more proud of these players. They just are so hungry to get better, so hungry to improve and do it together.”

Dayton showed improvement on the offensive end, making 7 of 20 3-pointers and committing 13 turnovers after having 18 on Wednesday. Whether that can continue if Smith and Elvis miss any time will be a question for next week. For now, the Flyers are most concerned with their teammates.

“It’s definitely very difficult, especially mid-game to see that,” said Dayton forward DaRon Holmes II, who scored 21 points. “It just sucks honestly. But we’ve just got to keep moving forward, and we’re going to do what we can do.”

About the Author