Dayton’s Antetokounmpo showing shot-blocking talents

Freshman had seven blocks in Charleston Classic

The Dayton Flyers will spend Thanksgiving morning at the Feast of Giving downtown at the Convention Center, helping serve meals to the community. They will have time for practice later in the day with a 7 p.m. Saturday game against Akron at UD Arena looming.

The holiday will end with a Thanksgiving meal prepared by the coaches’ wives.

“We’ll be able to spend some time together and break bread and have a good time,” coach Anthony Grant said Monday.

Dayton returned home from the Charleston Classic on Sunday night after a sixth-place finish. One win in three games dropped them to 2-2 and showed how exciting and frustrating this team will be to watch, at least early in the season as the coaches learn about the players and the players learn about each other.

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Among the interesting stats from the three games in Charleston was this: redshirt freshman Kostas Antetokounmpo blocked seven shots in the three games. He had four blocks against Hofstra and three against Ohio. He didn't have a block in the season opener against Ball State and didn't have one Sunday in a 76-67 loss to Old Dominion.

Seven blocks in four games puts the 6-foot-10 Antetokounmpo on pace to break the single-season school record for blocks (55) set by Steve McElvene two seasons ago.

Antetokounmpo was asked Monday if he could break that record.

“I’ll try,” he said. “Fifty five? That’s a good record.”

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Antetokounmpo signed with Dayton in late June 2016, less than two months after McElvene, 20, died of an enlarged heart at his family's home in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Antetokounmpo has similar size, length and athleticism to McElvene. Both also sat out their first seasons at UD. However, they never met.

Antetokounmpo knows about McElvene’s legacy because his roommate is senior Darrell Davis, who was a member of UD’s 2014 recruiting class with McElvene.

“He always talks about Steve,” Antetokounmpo said.

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McElvene averaged 1.7 blocks per game. That’s an impressive number considering his minutes were often limited by foul trouble. He averaged 18.3 minutes per game. Staying on the court could also be a challenge for Antetokounmpo, whose playing time has fluctuated early in the season: six minutes in the opener; 26 against Hofstra, 13 against Ohio; and 15 against Old Dominion.

When Antetokounmpo is on the court, his shot-blocking abilities will be a weapon for Dayton’s defense.

“That’s going to be a strength,” he said. “I feel I can help the team with that.”

Antetokounmpo has seven of Dayton’s 13 blocks. Xeyrius Williams, who blocked 36 shots in 32 games last season, has three. Grant says Antetokounmpo has a gift for blocking shots. It’s not something the coaches have had to teach him.

“We feel like that can definitely help our team in terms of what we’re trying to do from a defensive standpoint,” Grant said. “I was really pleased with the effort he was able to give us, specifically in the Hofstra game. The experience for him, being able to play some consistent minutes and extended minutes, can only help.”

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