Dayton Flyers basketball: Best and worst of the decade

Four-year NCAA tournament run the highlight of the decade

Former Dayton Flyers guard Kyle Davis headed down the ramp to Tom Blackburn Court at UD Arena on Monday at about the same speed he used to do so when he had his arms draped around teammates as they danced and sang on their way to pregame warmups.

» LA SALLE GAME: Dayton starts A-10 play Thursday

Davis, who has played professionally in Argentina the last two years, said had not visited UD Arena since he graduated in 2017. His presence at the last UD game of the decade brought back memories of what the program accomplished in the middle of the decade and what the current team hopes to replicate in the first months of the Twenties.

Before moving ahead, it’s a good time to take one last look back at the previous decade. Here’s a summary of Dayton basketball from 2010-2019.

MVP: No player impacted more games during the decade than point guard Scoochie Smith. That's partly because he played in more games (138) in the decade than any other Flyer. He also played with the winningest senior class in school history (102 victories from 2013-17). Smith was the backup point guard on Dayton's Elite Eight team in the 2013-14 season and started the next three seasons, helping lead the Flyers to three more NCAA tournament appearances and back-to-back Atlantic 10 Conference regular-season championships.

Top scorer: No player scored more points (1,317) in the decade than Dyshawn Pierre, who finished his career in 2016. He ranks 26th in school history in scoring, two spots ahead of Smith (1,273).

Best performance by a redshirt freshman: Forward Obi Toppin set the school freshman record by averaging 14.4 points in the 2018-19 season. He became the first Flyer to win the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year Award and the first A-10 player in 20 years to be named to the all-conference first team in his first season.

» NORTH FLORIDA GAME: 11 observationsGame photos

Best offensive performance by a true freshman: Point guard Jalen Crutcher averaged 9.2 points and 4.4 assists in the 2017-18 season. He started 22 games and averaged 31.2 minutes per game. He was the fourth freshman in school history to average more than 30 minutes per game.

Best defensive performance by a rookie: As a redshirt freshman in the 2015-16 season, center Steve McElvene set the school record for blocked shots (55).

Best sixth man: Vee Sanford started all 31 games in the 2012-13 season after sitting out the previous season as a transfer from Georgetown. The next season, as a senior, he came off the bench in all but the first two games, averaging 9.6 points.

Best transfer: Transfers led Dayton in scoring in seven of the 10 years. No transfer did better than Jordan Sibert, who scored 1,030 points in two seasons with the Flyers after playing two seasons at Ohio State. He made game-winning 3-pointers in his first and last games at UD Arena with the second one beating Boise State in the First Four in 2015.

Best hometown player: Trotwood-Madison graduate Chris Wright played his final two seasons in the first two seasons of the decade. He ranks 15th in school history with 1,601 points.

Best walk-on: Bobby Wehrli joined the team as a walk-on in the 2013-14 season and earned a full scholarship for the second semester in 2015. He made surprising contributions off the bench for a team that needed the help, averaging 2.3 points and 2.1 rebounds in 29 games.

Best captain: Devin Oliver was the heart and soul of the 2013-14 team and played a big role in the team turning its season around after a 1-5 start in A-10 play. He averaged 11.9 points as a senior and improved his 3-point shooting accuracy from 28.3 as a junior to 39.6.

» ARCHDEACON: North Florida coach praises Toppin’s heart

Best free-throw shooter: Kevin Dillard made 255 of 296 (86.1 percent) free throws in his two seasons (2011-13) with the Flyers. He's the second most accurate free-throw shooter in school history behind Donald Smith (281 of 317, 88.6).

Best 3-point shooter: Pierre ranks fourth in school history in 3-point accuracy (88 of 222, 39.6 percent).

Most prolific dunker: In the final game of the decade, Toppin dunked 10 times in a 77-59 victory against North Florida. Dayton also set a team record with 13 dunks in the game. The previous season, Toppin set the UD single-season record with 83.

Best recruiting pipeline: Four of the most important players in the decade came from Chicago. Dillard, Davis, Kendall Pollard and Josh Cunningham all rank in the top 70 in school history in scoring. Other scholarship players from the Chicago area who played for UD in the decade were: Luke Fabrizius, Josh Parker, Mickey Perry, Brandon Spearman and Bobby Wehrli.

Best moment: Vee Sanford's bank shot with 3.8 seconds remaining gave Dayton a 60-59 victory against Ohio State in the first round of the NCAA tournament in 2014.

» ARCHDEACON: Hero Sanford: ‘It’s just playing basketball’

Dayton hadn’t beaten Ohio State since 1987, in part because it had only played the Buckeyes once in the previous 25 seasons. No team from Ohio had defeated Ohio State since Toledo in 1998. The Buckeyes hadn’t lost to an Ohio school in the NCAA tournament since it fell to Cincinnati in the 1962 national championship game.

Best trolling: The Dayton Daily News received national attention the day after Dayton's victory against Ohio State with this headline on the front page: "THE University of Dayton."

Most important regular-season victory: Dayton beat Virginia Commonwealth 79-72 on Senior Night in 2017 to clinch the first outright A-10 championship in school history.

Most important postseason victory: Dayton beat Stanford 82-72 in the Sweet 16 in 2014 to reach the Elite Eight for the first time since 1984.

Worst moment: The death of McElvene on May 12, 2016, sent shockwaves through the UD community. He was 20 years old and had just finished his second year at UD and his first season on the court. Three months later, it was revealed his death was caused by hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Dayton players wore his No. 5 on the front of their uniforms the next two seasons.

» LOOKING BACK: History lesson on UD basketball

Worst loss: In the last six years of the decade, Dayton got only one chance to play its Xavier, which was its biggest rival for many years until it left the A-10 for the Big East. In the championship game of the Advocare Invitational on Nov. 29, 2015, Xavier routed Dayton 90-61.

Worst injury: Cunningham suffered a torn ligament in his ankle following a dunk at Alabama in the final seconds of a 77-72 victory on Nov. 15, 2016. He missed 21 games and didn't play again until Feb. 10.

Best coaching job: After having to kick two players off the team in December for breaking into dorm rooms, Archie Miller nearly led a seven-man team to the Sweet 16 for the second straight season in 2014-15. They beat Boise State and Providence in the first two rounds but blew a nine-point lead in the second half and lost 72-66 to Oklahoma in the second round.

Best season: That 2014-15 team won more games than any team in the decade, finishing 27-9.

Worst season: Dayton finished 14-17 in the 2017-18 season, ending a streak of 11 straight winning seasons and four straight NCAA tournament appearances.

Best postseason achievement (NCAA category): Dayton beat Ohio State, Syracuse and Stanford before losing to Florida in the Elite Eight in 2014.

» ARCHDEACON: UD subdues Syracuse, storms into Sweet 16

Best postseason achievement (NIT category): Dayton opened the decade with its first NIT championship since 1968. It beat North Carolina 79-68 in the championship game at Madison Square Garden on April 1, 2010.

Highest-ranked recruit: Juwan Staten ranked 61st in the class of 2010, according to He played one season with the Flyers, averaging 8.5 points and 5.4 assists in the 2010-11 season, before transferring to West Virginia.

Biggest news story: Miller left Dayton for the head coaching job at Indiana on March 25, 2017, ending a six-year tenure with a 139-63 record. Five days later, Dayton hired Anthony Grant, a 1987 UD graduate, to replace Miller.

Biggest off-court achievement: The University of Dayton completed a three-year, $76.2 million renovation of UD Arena in November, weeks before the facility's 50th birthday.

Least surprising news: Dayton continued to fill UD Arena in the decade. It set an arena record by drawing 13,018 fans in the 2016-17 season and tied the school record with eight sellouts in the 2018-19 season. It will break both records in the first season of the new decade. Throughout the decade, Dayton ranked as high as 22nd in the nation in attendance and no lower than 28th.

About the Author