Chatman excited to be back for Dayton and says, ‘Anything can happen in March’

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Rodney Chatman interview (Feb. 17, 2021)

Redshirt senior guard plays 34 minutes in first game since December

Dayton Flyers guard Rodney Chatman didn’t know the extent of the injury right away. On Dec. 30, without about eight minutes left in the first half in the Atlantic 10 Conference opener against La Salle at UD Arena, he fell down after trying to block a shot and landed on his hand with his thumb extended.

Chatman stayed in the game, thinking he’d just jammed the thumb, and ended up playing 34 minutes in a 67-65 loss. He said Wednesday adrenaline kept him going.

“After the game, I tried to turn the shower knob,” Chatman said, “and I couldn’t turn it.”

A week later, he underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right hand. On Tuesday, after missing 11 games, Chatman returned to action in a 91-89 double-overtime loss at Rhode Island. He was the first player off the bench in the first half and finished with seven points and four assists in 34 minutes.

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Chatman kept up with his cardio work and did drills with his left hand during his absence but only had two practices with the team before returning to game action.

“He wanted to play weeks ago,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “It was just a matter of going through clearance with medical staff and making sure that he was safe to go out there and not put himself in harm’s way.”

Dayton (11-7, 7-6) is now 0-2 in A-10 games in which Chatman has played, but the hope is his return helps the team’s depth in the final weeks of the regular season and in the A-10 tournament.

“I knew I always wanted to come back, no matter if we had one game left or two games left,” Chatman said. “Anything can happen in March. I know that. The conference tournament is coming up. We’ll see how far we can go.”

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Anthony Grant interview (Feb. 17, 2021)

Opposing viewpoint: After battling an injury and scoring a season-low four points in the first game against Dayton, a 67-56 loss on Jan. 30, Rhode Island guard Fatts Russell scored 20 against the Flyers on Tuesday. It was the second time in eight games against Dayton he has scored at least 20 points.

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Rhode Island celebrated Senior Night before the game, honoring Russell, Jeremy Sheppard and walk-on Umberto Brusadin.

“I knew this was the last time I was ever going to be in a competitive game in the Ryan Center with these guys, with Coach Cox coaching me. It just meant a lot,” Russell told the Providence Journal. “We didn’t want to go out with an L and I really didn’t want to. This program, this school, coach (David) Cox, everybody means so much to me. I felt like I had to leave my heart out there and make sure I didn’t go out with an L.”

Looking ahead: Dayton returns home for its next game, playing Saint Louis (11-3, 4-2) at 7 p.m. Friday. Saint Louis beat La Salle 78-57 on Tuesday and has won four straight games since an 0-2 start in the A-10. Dayton won the first matchup 76-71 on Jan. 26.

Before the game, UD will honor Chatman and four other seniors: Jalen Crutcher; Jordy Tshimanga; Ibi Watson; and walk-on Camron Greer. They will be presented framed jerseys as usual on Senior Night but will not walk out of the tunnel with their families, who will watch the ceremony from the stands.

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