Dayton coach Archie Miller is flabbergasted by his team’s turnover troubles and hard-pressed to explain how his players could compete at such a high level and yet still be so utterly careless with the ball.
But he lights up when he talks about freshman wing Dyshawn Pierre, who tallied with 13 points and nine rebounds in a 72-70 loss at La Salle on Wednesday. Pierre was one rebound shy of a double-double for the second straight game.
Miller is hoping a few other Flyers — particularly some of the older ones — take a cue from the Canadian.
“Dyshawn isn’t perfect, but he continues to be a monster out there. He’s one of the best freshmen in the country,” Miller said.
Pierre has been surging in the Atlantic 10, averaging nearly 12 points, nine rebounds and three assists against some of the toughest competition UD will see all season.
The other freshmen — guard Khari Price and forwards Jalen Robinson and Devon Scott — also are making a positive impression on Miller.
“I’m proud of our young guys,” Miller said. “I’d go to battle with them any day of the week.”
The Flyers, though, have dropped to 10-7 and 0-3 in the A-10 because they’re not getting consistent results from their veterans.
Senior forward Josh Benson fouled out for the second straight game. He had eight points, five rebounds and five turnovers in 21 minutes and was beaten by La Salle’s Jerrell Wright for back-to-back three-point plays in crunch time after UD took brief leads.
Junior guard Vee Sanford had 13 points but also six turnovers, giving him 15 in A-10 play.
“It’s my job and our staff’s job to really start getting on it,” Miller said of the laspes. “And if we can’t find a way to get it corrected, then we’ve got to get different players in the game for longer stretches.”
Miller also yanked Kevin Dillard in the first half. The senior point guard didn’t take a shot or score in 12 minutes on the floor, and as he sat out the last 5:15 of the period, first Miller and then assistant Allen Griffin talked to the frustrated player on the bench.
Miller said afterward he sat his star because of foul trouble, although Dillard actually had only one at the time. The Flyers’ leading scorer came alive after halftime, making four 3’s for 12 points.
“He wasn’t playing particularly aggressive. … I thought in the second half, he was much better,” Miller said. “He looked for his shot a lot more. He tried to make a lot more plays.
“He’s going through a hard time right now just personally. He’s struggling with the losing. And that’s what great competitors do. What we have to do is get him up and at it and playing at his best. When he plays at his best, our team is at its best.”
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