Few people outside the Dayton Flyers men’s basketball locker room know the team better than Bucky Bockhorn, Brooks Hall and Keith Waleskowski.
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The three former Flyers take turns teaming with Larry Hansgen on WHIO Radio. This will be the 51st season Bockhorn has called games at his alma mater and his 37th season with Hansgen. Bockhorn gets the home games these days, and Hall (1999-2003) and Waleskowski (2000-04) rotate on road games, while also contributing to the postgame radio show, Flyer Feedback.
With Dayton’s exhibition game against Cedarville at 5 p.m. Nov. 2 two weeks away and the regular-season opener at 7 p.m. Nov. 9 against Indiana State three weeks away, it was a good time to check in with the three UD basketball experts to get their thoughts on the 2019-20 season. Here’s what they had to say:
Hall: Everybody’s obviously asking how Dayton’s going to be this year, and what I say to everybody is on paper — and unfortunately games aren’t played on paper — this might be the most talented top-to-bottom roster we’ve ever seen at Dayton. They should easily be a top-25 team, maybe top 15. That’s the kind of talent they have.
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Waleskowski: I certainly think there’s a ton of potential, a ton of upside to this team. A lot of it’s based on guys who haven’t necessarily played, that we haven’t seen in live action yet. But those guys aren’t coming in as rookies/new recruits. They’re guys that are established, guys that are a little more grown and physically mature. They’ve just had to sit out because of transfer rules. But I think they bring a lot to the table in addition to the core that we already have.
Bockhorn: I think we can be pretty good. I don’t want to go overboard because they’ve got (11) players who have to gel. We’ve got a lot of players who can play multiple positions.
Hall: I believe in the top-25 curse. It seems like every time Dayton cracks the top 25, a loss shortly follows, so I think flying under the radar is a good thing because hopefully it gives these young guys a chip because they know how good they are. They know the potential. You’ve got a potential lottery pick (Obi Toppin) on your team with some other NBA-type talent on the squad. There are multiple NBA talented guys on this team. I’m not saying they’re all going to make it. But when was the last time we could say that?
Hall: Last year, the challenge was motivating a short-handed roster to play above their capabilities, to squeeze every ounce out of them. It’s completely opposite this year. This year, it’s about team management, playing time, egos and chemistry. You’re overwhelmed by talent. Now how do you manage it? That’s going be the challenge for the staff this year. A perfect rotation is eight or nine guys. (Anthony Grant’s) got 11 guys who can legitimately play, who can be solid contributors, and here’s what’s crazy: you’ve got four to six guys who could in other situations earn 30-plus minutes a game, but you’re too deep to do that. That’s why I say it’s not going to be the Xs and Os that make or break this team. It’s going to be getting guys to buy in. You’ve got a guy who potentially in other circumstances could be a 35- or 36-minute kind of guy. Can you play 27 minutes and still be an impactful guy and be OK with it?
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How does Obi not play 37 minutes a game. He should, but is coach going to have a rotation of 10 guys? If that’s the case, nobody’s playing 37 minutes. Let’s say some of your top players start off slow. Obi starts off slow. How much of a leash does Obi get if you’ve got talent sitting there? How do you manage psyche? Now you’ve got pressure on all these guys. You look to the left and right, and you see talent. How much pressure do these guys put on themselves to outperform the others so they earn minutes but without bringing the negative energy to the team?
Waleskowski: It’s tough to say early in the season who I think will get minutes. but as you’ve seen in years past — pretty much with any coach — the guys that get the playing time are the guys that are playing the right type of basketball. They’re effective and efficient on offense, but more importantly, they’re engaged and motivated on defense because it starts with that, and then they’re going to have to bring something in on the other other end as well. The difference is we’ve got guys who can really play on both ends. It’s going to be a competition within the team for playing time. There’s only 200 minutes per game. Everyone wants to play, and everyone wants to play a lot. The benefit of that is you can play at a higher pace. They can push the ball. They’ve got subs where there’s really not a drop-off if you do need to go from one player to another and bring guys in off the bench.
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Bockhorn: It’ll work itself out. Anthony’s been there, done that. He’s been around a long time. I think he’s a very good coach. I really do. I watch him work in practice. He’s in command. There’s no doubt about that. And the coaching staff is good, too.
Bockhorn: The guy that most impresses me this year is Jordy (Tshimanga). He’s in shape. He’s worked his (butt) off. He’s moving his feet very well. He’s playing hard. He can be a factor for us.
Waleskowski: Jordy is a big-time inside presence, a true center. It’s been a while since we’ve had someone as big and tall. Steve McElvene would be the most recent who had those physical characteristics.
Bockhorn: (Ryan) Mikesell is Mr. Steady, the MVP, I think. He does a little bit of everything.
Bockhorn: Crutcher looks unbelievable.
Bockhorn: I think this (Rodney) Chatman is going to be a nice guard for us. He’s got good speed and long arms. He’s going to be a hell of a defender, and he can shoot the outside shot.
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Bockhorn: (Dwayne) Cohill can get to the rim and defend, and he’s a hard worker.
Waleskowski: I know a lot of people are excited to see Obi again and rightfully so. He’s a super exciting player to watch. High flying. Super athletic. And all the dunks that come along with it.
Bockhorn: (Trey) Landers is Mr. Hustle.
Bockhorn: Ibi Watson could lead us in scoring. We haven’t seen him play in front of 13,500 people. Big difference.
Hall: It’s funny. Everybody said (last year) the best player on Dayton’s team wasn’t even playing, and that was Ibi.
Bockhorn: (Chase) Johnson has got really great hops. He can play down in that low post. I haven’t seen him do too much outside, but he can be a really good defender. He’s quick for a guy that’s 6-8. You just don’t know. He hasn’t played in two years. He’s a mystery man really.
Bockhorn: Jhery Matos is one of the most improved players on the team.
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