Damon Goodwin first took his Capital University basketball team into UD Arena for an exhibition game almost 19 years after his final game with the Dayton Flyers.
Brian Gregory’s second team beat the Crusaders 73-52 in 2004. In 2008, Capital played Dayton again in exhibition play, falling 98-73.
In 2018, the Goodwin and Capital return to UD Arena, but this game has an extra storyline. Goodwin will coach against former Dayton teammate Anthony Grant — their careers overlapped for three seasons from 1983-86 — for the first time at 7 p.m. Friday as UD unveils the new-look arena after the second phase of a three-year, $72-million project.
“It’s going to be awesome because of one, the arena, just seeing the arena,” said Goodwin, who ranks 34th in school history with 1,191 points. “I’ve seen the plans and all the changes. But two, to play against Anthony, it’s going to be fun, and it’s a great experience for our guys. We’ve done this two other times. It’s been a while since we’ve done it, and every time our guys have enjoyed the experience just playing in front a crowd like that. It’s something our guys don’t get to do very often.”
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Goodwin took over Capital’s program in 1994 and has a record of 368-246 in 23 seasons. He became Capital’s winningest coach almost nine seasons ago. Here are the highlights of a conversation with him Thursday at his office at Capital.
Q: Do you expect a big reaction at UD Arena from fans who remember you?
A: I know those lower-bowl season-ticket holders are usually there for the past 30-40 years, but this is really not about me. It’s about our team. It’s about us getting our guys an experience they usually don’t get. We take our team to Europe every three years, and we’ve done it five times. This is about getting a little check to play and giving our guys the experience and getting our guys ready for what we’re going to compete against. Obviously, we’re not going to compete against teams like Dayton, but at the same time, it’s going to be a situation where I go to the tape and say, ‘This is what we did well. This is what we didn’t do well against competition.’ How do we apply that when we’re going to play a couple weeks later?
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Q: What kind of team do you have this season?
A: We have five seniors. We have struggled the last few years. We had a really good stretch for almost 20 years where every kid in our program won at least one league championship, and for the past four or five years, we haven’t done that, so we’ve kind of broke that streak. This class has grown up through the program. We’ve only had one or two seniors the past three years. We haven’t been able to keep our classes together, so I’m excited that this year we do have five seniors. Probably three or four of them will start. I’m still going (deciding) that. We just started practice last Monday. That’s going to be the hard part for us. We scrimmage Ohio Dominican on Tuesday, and they’ve been going for a while, too. The hard part for us is playing a little bit of catch-up, but having five seniors certainly helps that situation.
Q: How did this game come about?
A: Just me searching for (exhibition games). We played OU (Ohio University) and BG (Bowling Green) last year. We played Fort Wayne and BG the year before that. We’ve played Akron, Eastern Kentucky, Valparaiso. All the D3s would love to play at Dayton or anyplace else. The connections don’t hurt. Me and Anthony going back doesn’t hurt us getting this game.
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Q: Do you expect to compete with the Flyers?
A: Obviously, it’s a different level of basketball. They’re scholarship (athletes). We’re not. But at the same time, if you have a little pride and determination in what you do, we’re not going to lay down. We’re not going to change anything. I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve been able to get these games. People see that we just run our motion offense, play our man defense for the most part. They’re going to be bigger, stronger, faster like all scholarship players are compared to non-scholarship players. You play and compete and see where it goes.
Q: You said you haven’t watched tape on Dayton yet, but you’re an alum of the program and a fan, so what do you think of this year’s team?
A: I know last year was a rough year. I went over to a couple games. I think Anthony is going to get it right. He’s going to get his guys in there. He’s going to get guys in who believe in him and his system. I’m sure that’s what he has now. I think that whole process he had to go through last year was probably tough for a lot of people — probably mostly him, to tell you the truth. I talked to him this summer, maybe once in the fall but not recently. I just know he’s encouraged by the guys they’re getting. I know he’s encouraged by their mentality and their work ethic. They’re guys who fit the program he wants to build. When he gets that, they’re going to get really good again quickly.
Q: What did you think of what happened last year with the Flyers?
A: Everyone kind of knew that was going to happen. They had such a good class leaving. They went to the tournament four years in a row. I don’t know if anyone could have walked into that situation and not had a difficult year with the change of personnel. I know if coach (Archie) Miller was there, he probably knew it would be a different kind of year. But I think they competed. I know they took steps when I saw them play.
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Q: What was the last year like for you personally, seeing your son Dane win Ohio’s Mr. Basketball award?
A: I’m proud of him. He worked very hard for it. It didn’t come easy. He’s the kid out there shooting at night, shooting in the rain. He was always a kid who liked to shoot. He didn’t have a trainer. It was me rebounding for him.
Q: Will you be able to see him play much in his freshman season at Notre Dame?
A: I hope to get to a dozen games. The fortunate thing is we’re on a schedule. Capital plays Wednesdays-Saturdays. Because of TV, (Notre Dame) is all over the place. There will be a few times where we’ll practice early so I can see a game. I’ve talked to our administration about it. I’ve talked to our team. They know it’s not going to happen very often.
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