All it took for Dyshawn Pierre to have his best game of his season was a pep talk, a bandage … and the grit to be able to play through pain most of Saturday night.
The 6-foot-6 junior forward had suffered subpar performances in the past two Dayton Flyers games.
Against Saint Louis a week ago, he was 4 for 12 from the floor and went 0 for 3 from 3-point range. Tuesday, in a loss at Davidson, he made two of 10 field-goal attempts, was 0-for-2 beyond the arc and turned the ball over five times.
“I talked to Dyshawn early Wednesday morning for about 30 minutes,” coach Archie Miller said. “He was really disappointed in his play at Davidson.”
Pierre said Miller was part psychologist, part cheerleader, part fellow ballplayer as they talked:
“He just knows how to talk to people. He knows what you’re going through. I was thinking about what happened, trying to figure it out, and he helped me forget it. You can’t let it linger. You lose a couple of games in conference play and you fall back (in the standings).”
By the time Pierre left his office, Miller said he was sure of one thing:
“I could tell he was gonna play well tonight. And for the first time in his career, I didn’t really have to prod him. He didn’t need to be told what to do. He was very anxious to get to the game.”
He may have been anxious, but he wasn’t 100 percent. He had sprained his left thumb a few weeks ago in practice and had aggravated it in the Davidson game and again during practice leading up to Saturday’s game against Richmond.
He took the floor against the Spiders with his left thumb fully bandaged and during the game he re-injured it a couple of times. Although he could be seen shaking the hand in pain, he still played 38 of the 40 minutes.
“I hit it a couple of times and, yeah, it hurt throughout the game, but we’re short players,” he said. “You got to play through pain. Everybody’s playing through pain right now.”
But nobody did it any better in the Flyers’ 63-60 victory than Pierre.
He finished with a game-high 21 points on 8 of 11 shooting. He was 3 for 3 from beyond the arc and added five rebounds, three assists and two steals.
“He was terrific tonight,” Miller said.
The victory was important on a couple of fronts for the 16-3 Flyers. It helped them erase the bad taste of Tuesday night’s thumping at Davidson and it gets them back on track as they play three of their next four on the road.
“Dyshawn means everything to this team,” said sophomore guard Kyle Davis, who was superb himself as he scored 10 points and shut down Richmond’s high-scoring guard Kendall Anthony, who finished with nine points, eight below his average.
Afterward, though, Davis sang Pierre’s praises: “He’s a veteran on this team. He came out tough tonight and played great.”
Pierre does anything to stay on the court and that will be more important than ever down the stretch, especially when it appears 6-foot-6 Detwon Rogers won’t play for the Flyers this year, or maybe ever.
He hasn’t played this season and wasn’t on the bench Saturday. Early in the year he was sidelined because of injury, but physically he’s been cleared to play for a while now.
“He was not at the game based on an academic situation he’s dealing with,” Miller said. “We held him out. Right now it’s a day-to-day basis.
“He’s going to have to get his academics in order in terms of what we expect of our guys. I doubt very highly he’ll play one minute for us this year. Where it goes from there, I don’t know.”
Meanwhile, Pierre — undersized inside, injured and playing almost every minute of the game — keeps plugging along.
“When we talked, Archie just told me everybody has a bad game.,” he said. “He said good players, though, are able to put those games behind them.”
Pierre did just that Saturday night.
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