Four of the returning players — Ryan Mikesell, Trey Landers, Obi Toppin and Jalen Crutcher — plus second-year graduate assistant coach Sean Damaska sat down with the Dayton Daily News on Tuesday at the Cronin Center to talk about the offseason and the season ahead. There will be stories every day over the next week from those conversations.
Here are a few highlights:
1. Damaska on the four transfers who will make their debuts in 2019-20: "We've got a chance to be pretty special. They're a good group of kids, super talented. Obviously, they come from some high-pedigree programs so the talent is apparent. I'm excited to get started and to see what they can do in games."
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2. Injury news: Redshirt junior point guard Rodney Chatman, a transfer from Chattanooga, took an elbow to the eye in one of the first summer practices. He's now starting to shoot again and is close to returning to action. Freshman center Moulaye Sissoko has also missed some time with a sprained ankle.
3. Classroom update: Mikesell, a fifth-year senior, graduated with a mechanical engineering degree in the spring. He's working on a master's in educational leadership now in case he wants to get into coaching after he's finished playing. He wants to play basketball professionally next year.
4. Off-court activities: Senior Trey Landers said coach Anthony Grant asked the players to read the book "Chop Wood, Carry Water: How to Fall in Love With the Process of Becoming Great." They read a couple chapters and then discuss them in a team meeting.
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5. Landers on the focus in practice: "It's kind of the same as last year when we really emphasized defense. We got better as a team on a national scale, but coach Grant has really been emphasizing to us just being better from the neck up in our mental focus."
6. Dunk plans: Redshirt sophomore Obi Toppin set the school record with 83 dunks last season. His between-the-legs dunk ranked among the best dunks in the college basketball season. Asked if he has anything new planned, Toppin said, "I've got a behind-the-back now. I just started doing that. I can do that easily. Windmill off the oop, me and Jalen have been doing that a lot. We've got new tricks coming."