Mike Tucker knew he was assured of making it to the University of Rhode Island for the Atlantic 10 championship today. He was just hoping all of his players would arrive in time for their tourney opener, too.
The travel plans for the University of Dayton women’s soccer team were upended by Superstorm Sandy, and the Flyers had to split up into four or five groups for flights out of Dayton.
Tucker, the 18th-year coach, and about 20 others in the party had a long layover in Philadelphia on Wednesday but boarded a connecting flight to Providence, R.I., at about 5 p.m.
The final two groups considered chartering a bus before the UD travel office found flights for them that departed Wednesday evening, although nothing was guaranteed with the aftermath of the giant storm.
“Everyone was supposed to be in Providence by 11 p.m., but we have no clue what will happen with those last two. … We’re at the mercy of the weather,” Tucker said before leaving Philly.
The Flyers are 13-4-1 — three of their losses were in overtime — and finished 7-1-1 in the A-10 to earn the second seed. They’re scheduled to face UMass (9-9-1, 4-4-1 A-10) in the first round at 5 p.m. today.
Only Butler and Charlotte were flying to the eight-team event, and Tucker thought his team was the only one encountering travel problems.
An A-10 spokesman said the tournament will go on as scheduled.
“This is the third major flight snafu that we’ve had this year, and we managed the other two fine and I expect we will manage this one as well,” Tucker said. “We’ll just have to make sure we do all the right things to get them ready to play a game.”
The Flyers are bidding for their fourth straight tourney title and a record ninth overall. La Salle (14-4-1, 8-0-1), which didn’t play UD this season, is the top seed.
The Flyers have outscored their foes, 50-20, this season and are getting votes in the national poll but may need to prevail to advance again to the NCAA tournament.
“We are so sitting on the backside of the bubble, I’d say,” Tucker said. “I think we need to win a minimum of two games. And even that, if we don’t win the tournament, would put us in a precarious position.
“Unfortunately, we took a loss or two this year we shouldn’t have, and that’s put us in not the greatest shape.”
Tucker, though, is counting on claiming the A-10’s automatic bid that comes with the tourney crown and not have his team’s fate left in the hands of others.
“Our kids want to do it again and they know what it takes, and I have a lot of confidence in them,” he said. “I think we’re going to go get another one.”
Roberts makes it: Four ex-Flyers were invited to NBA training camps, and one survived. Brian Roberts is on the roster of the New Orleans Hornets, who opened the season Wednesday night against San Antonio. The 26-year-old guard played four years overseas, including the last three at Germany’s highest level.
Chris Wright was waived by the Toronto Raptors, Chris Johnson by the Orlando Magic and Devin Searcy by the Philadelphia 76ers.
The 6-foot-10 Searcy was in and out of the Flyers’ starting lineup as a senior in 2009-10 and looked as if he had lost interest in basketball. But he apparently was rejuvenated by playing professionally in Japan last season, and he battled guard Damien Wilkins for the Sixers’ final roster spot before being cut.