Josh Cunningham watched the Dayton Flyers open the season from the bench Wednesday. He wore sweatpants and a Dayton hoodie plus bright red high-tops — and most noticeably a black brace on his right wrist and hand.
Dayton fans who want to know if he’ll play in the second game against Coppin State at 7 p.m. Saturday will have to wait and see. All coach Anthony Grant would say after the 78-70 victory against North Florida was that Cunningham suffered the hand injury in practice Tuesday and his status is day to day.
» PREVIEW: What you need to know about Saturday’s game
“We’ll take it as it comes,” Grant said. “Obviously, we missed him, but it was good to see the guys step up and answer the bell without our only senior, our captain, our leader out there with us tonight. I thought Josh did a good job on the bench communicating with the guys in terms of what was going on on the floor, what he saw. He was engaged even though he wasn’t out there physically with them.”
If Dayton can survive a game against North Florida without its top player, it can do the same Saturday. Here are five things to know about its second game:
1. Famous name: Coppin State’s second-year coach is Juan Dixon, the most outstanding player at the 2002 NCAA Final Four. He led Maryland to a national championship that season and remains the program’s all-time leading scorer with 2,269 points.
2. Struggling program: Dixon inherited a program that had suffered six straight losing seasons, and things didn’t get better in his first season. The Eagles finished 5-27 a year ago. They haven’t hit double-digit wins since they were 12-20 in 2013-14.
Coppin State last had a winning record in 2010-11 (16-14) and last made the NCAA tournament in 2007-08 when it was 16-21 but won the MEAC tournament and lost 69-60 to Mount St. Mary’s in the opening round at UD Arena.
» WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Dayton rallies in fourth quarter to win opener
3. Low ranked: The Eagles rank 348th out of 353 Division I programs in the Ken Pomeroy ratings. Last season, they finished 347th. Dayton hasn’t played an opponent ranked lower than 300 since Dec. 23, 2016, when it played No. 322 Virginia Military Institute at UD Arena.
4. Long range: Like North Florida, which has an offense built around the 3-pointer, Coppin State shoots often from behind the arc. It ranked eighth in the country last season in the percentage of points scored on 3-pointers with 40.9 percent of its offense coming from 3-pointers.
In a season-opening 85-63 loss at Wisconsin on Tuesday, the Eagles made 11 of 29 3-pointers (37.9). Six different players made 3-pointers.
5. First impressions: Dayton freshman guard Dwayne Cohill scored five points in his first game but also showed his talent on the defensive end.
“In recruiting Dwayne, I felt he could be a guy — because of his athleticism and ability to not only score but to defend — who could walk in the door and have an impact for us,” Grant said. “You look at the number of points he scored in high school, but my vision for him wasn’t to come in and be our leading scorer. I thought he could contribute as a freshman because of the variety of ways he impacts winning.”
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