Dayton coach Anthony Grant goes way back with Georgia State’s Hunter

Dayton native Hunter in seventh season at Georgia State

The Dayton Flyers ranked 90th in the RPI through Wednesday. Only one other team with a losing record found itself in the top 100.

The Flyers (4-5) stood 85 spots higher than Archie Miller and Indiana. They ranked above all but three Atlantic 10 Conference teams: No. 24 Rhode Island; No. 76 St. Bonaventure; and No. 82 La Salle, which at 5-6 was the only team with a losing record ahead of UD. The Flyers had a better position than No. 104 Hofstra and No. 105 Penn, two of the five teams to beat them in the first nine games.

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Take that RPI for what it’s worth, which isn’t much considering Dayton’s record. What it does show is the Flyers have played a schedule full of solid teams. According to ESPN’s numbers, Dayton’s non-conference schedule ranks third in the country.

“That was the plan,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said Thursday. “To try to create a schedule that would allow us, should we take care of ourselves and win, to have some things available for us: at-large bids and things like that. Obviously, at 4-5, our main mindset right now is making sure we take care of us, continue to grow the program and get better.”

Four of Dayton’s first nine opponents ranked in the top 100. Only one (No. 229 Ohio) ranked outside the top 200. Dayton’s 10th opponent, Georgia State, ranks 220th but shouldn’t be overlooked for a number of reasons, one being its coach Ron Hunter, a Dayton native who Grant knows well. The Flyers play the Panthers at 7 p.m. Saturday at UD Arena.

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Hunter, a Chaminade Julienne graduate, played at Miami University. He is one year older than Grant, who played for the Flyers at the same time. Miami and Dayton split six games in the three seasons their careers overlapped (1983-86).

Hunter and Grant also coached against each other in 2013 when Grant was at Alabama. The Crimson Tide beat Georgia State 75-58 in the quarterfinals of the NIT Season Tip Off.

“We had some really good battles,” Grant said. “I’ve known Ron for a long time.”

Hunter started his head coaching career at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and twice brought his team to UD Arena to play the Flyers, losing 76-66 in his first season (1998-99) and 61-59 in 2003.

This is the first meeting between Dayton and Georgia State. Hunter is in his seventh season and three seasons removed from a 25-10 season that saw the No. 14 seed Panthers upset No. 3 seed Baylor in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Georgia State features a top-100 recruit in D’Marcus Simonds, a sophomore point guard who leads the team in scoring (19.6 points per game) and assists (4.9). He had the school’s first triple-double in November (20 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists).

“They’re a good team,” Grant said. “Obviously, I’ve got a lot of respect for Ron as a coach. He’s had a lot of success at a lot of his stops. He’s built a really good program at Georgia State. He’s got a young man who’s a sophomore point guard that’s really on NBA radars anywhere you look. He’s a guy that’s talked about a lot.”

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Georgia State’s defense could be a problem for Dayton. The Panthers force 17.6 turnovers per game. That ranks 27th in the country. Dayton has committed at least 14 turnovers in its last five games.

“Defensively, they’re going to mix things up with a matchup zone,” Grant said. “They throw some different combinations at you. They’ve got some guys from an offensive standpoint you have to be aware of. You have to be ready to limit their opportunities.”


Georgia State at Dayton, 7 p.m., Spectrum Sports, FM 95.7, AM 1290 WHIO

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