Trey Landers wore a T-shirt reading, “Just a Kid From Dayton,” to interviews at the Cronin Center on Tuesday.
Landers was born in Dayton, but he’s hardly a kid when it comes to the 2018-19 college basketball season, which starts for the Dayton Flyers with an exhibition game at 7 p.m. Friday against Capital at UD Arena and then gets going for real at 7 p.m. Nov. 7 with the season opener against North Florida.
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The Wayne grad Landers, now a junior guard, played 16 times as many minutes as a sophomore (837) than he did as a freshman (52). He’ll be counted on to play a similar role this season as one of four returning starters. He and the other Flyers can’t wait to get on the court in front of the fans at the new-look UD Arena, which opens its doors Thursday and Friday for women’s and men’s exhibition games after phase two of the three-year, $72-million renovation.
“It’s really exciting,” Landers said. “We’ve been beating up on each other, so it’s always good to play outside competition, and obviously to be in the arena with the renovations, it’s a great feeling for us to be back.”
Dayton coach Anthony Grant got a sneak peek at the arena, which features expanded concourses and new seats in the 300 and 400 levels among many other updates, on Monday. Dayton Athletic Director Neil Sullivan gave Grant and some of his assistant coaches a tour. Grant expected the team to get practice at the arena for the first time Wednesday or Thursday.
“It’s beautiful,” Grant said. “I’m excited for our fans to get a chance to experience it.”
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This won’t be the first time the team has played in front of fans. It held a practice and intra-squad scrimmage in front of fellow students Friday at the RecPlex on campus.
“It was really fun,” Landers said. “They come out and support us all the time. We had a couple nice dunks that got the crowd into it.”
Dayton also held a closed scrimmage against Pittsburgh on Saturday at Denison University in Granville.
Grant and Pittsburgh coach Jeff Capel decided before the game not to publicize the result by releasing the box score, score or other specific details. However, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Panthers won the game by nine points.
“We had eight guys that played in the scrimmage,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “Four of them were playing their first ever Division I college competition. I thought they handled it well. I thought we competed well. Certainly, there are a lot of things as a coach you look at and want to get better at and want to improve on, but in terms of what we wanted to accomplish, I thought it was a good game for us.”
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Redshirt junior forward Ryan Mikesell didn’t play against Pittsburgh. Grant said Mikesell had a sprained ankle, and his absence wasn’t related to the two hip surgeries he had in 2017.
“Ryan’s good,” Grant said. “He’s had no issues with the surgery he had. I think our medical staff’s done an unbelievable job of making sure he’s progressed in the fashion he needed to avoid any setbacks. He’s good. I think he’s looking forward to getting the year started.”