A Dayton basketball player can’t walk more than a couple steps every day without being reminded of the program’s history.
A plaque honoring Bucky Bockhorn greets them at the door to the Cronin Center, where they practice on campus. Another plaque paying tribute to Tom Blackburn adorns a column along the ramp leading from the locker room to the court at UD Arena.
Sophomores Scoochie Smith, Kendall Pollard and Kyle Davis have spent a little more than a season and a half with the Flyers. They’ve already etched their names in the record books as members of the Elite Eight team. While they’re focused on a Thursday game at Massachusetts and a Sunday home game against Fordham this week and the rest of the grueling season ahead, they also have their sights on a long-term goal.
“One thing we talk about is trying to become the winningest class,” Smith said Tuesday. “That’s something we’re looking forward to. I know we’ve got a good record. We want to keep winning and do whatever it takes to win.”
The 2010-11 senior class of Chris Wright, Devin Searcy, Pete Zesterman and Logan Nourse holds the record with a mark of 97-45 in their four seasons.
Smith, Pollard and Davis have a long way to go, but they’re off to a great start in pursuit of that milestone. The Flyers finished 26-11 last season. They’re 16-3 this season. At 42-14, they’re one game ahead of the pace of the 2010-11 seniors.
All three sophomores are starting. Smith drives the offense and is tied for third in the Atlantic 10 in assists per game (4.2).
Pollard has emerged as the team’s most efficient scorer. He ranks third on the team with 11.4 points per game and ranks sixth in the A-10 in field-goal percentage (55.2).
Davis is a defensive stopper and one of the many Flyers who can penetrate and score or dish to teammates behind the 3-point line.
The final seven minutes of Saturday’s 63-60 victory over Richmond at UD Arena provided a number of examples of the sophomores’ skills. Smith, Pollard and Davis combined to score 13 of Dayton’s last 15 points, proving once again that while they are sophomores on the court, they’re no longer youngsters.
“I don’t think when you’re on the basketball court, you think, ‘I’m a sophomore, I might not be able to make a play,’ ” Smith said. “We’re all basketball players. It’s all about the confidence level.
“It just goes to the confidence you get from your teammates and your coaching staff. Just be ready to make plays. Be ready to shoot the ball. Be aggressive at all times.”
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