Dayton assistant coaches relish NCAA tournament appearance

Jermaine Henderson went to NCAA tournament twice with Miami

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Assistant coach Jermaine Henderson can speak from experience when he tells the Dayton Flyers players to relax during the NCAA tournament.

Twenty nine years ago, Henderson made his NCAA tournament debut in his sophomore season at Miami University. He played one minute in the first round as Miami upset Arizona 71-62 at Henderson’s new home, UD Arena.

“I had one rebound and one assist,” Henderson said Wednesday before practice at the Delta Center. “I was maximizing my time.”

Henderson, who saw more NCAA tournament action as a senior in a first-round loss to Clemson, hopes the Flyers do the same on Thursday when they play Nevada in the first round.

“It’s the same thing coach (Anthony) Grant has said,” Henderson said. “We have to do what we’ve done all year. Don’t let the moment consume you. Stay with your role. Do your job. Do all the things that got us to this point. But it’s hard. It’s the madness. It’s the media. It’s everything. But we have a mature group.”

Henderson is the newest member of Grant’s staff. He came to UD last April. Everyone else has a deeper history with Grant and UD.

Ricardo Greer, the associate head coach, has been on Grant’s staff since the beginning in 2017, as has Darren Hertz. James Kane also was on that first staff but left after the first season and spent three years at Iowa State before returning to UD in 2021.

Hearing Dayton’s name called on Selection Sunday was a sweet moment for Kane, who has been to five NCAA tournaments as a coach.

“It was very emotional,” Kane said. “Our guys put in a lot of work. The staff put a lot of work from top to bottom — the whole university, the whole athletic department. It’s not just a moment for the team. It’s a moment for everybody. It was great to share it with our families because our families support us throughout the year.”

Sean Damaska, an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator who has been on Grant’s staff the last six seasons, will experience the tournament for the first time. Like everyone, he battled nerves on Sunday night as Dayton waited for the announcement.

“You’re sitting there and you know you’re in,” Damaska said, “but you’re down to the last region.”

Damaska grew up a Michigan fan, but his favorite March Madness moment was watching Butler’s Gordon Hayward almost win the national championship on a halfcourt shot against Duke. He hopes Dayton can create its own memory Thursday.

“I’m excited,” Damaska said. “It’s a great match with a great basketball team. It’s going to be fun.”

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

About the Author