There is disagreement among the Dayton Flyers about just how often the scout team beat the starters in practice last season.
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“I’d say if our second team played them 10 games, we probably won seven,” redshirt junior guard Jhery Matos said earlier this month.
“Honestly, it was kind of an amusing thing to watch,” graduate assistant coach Sean Damaska said Tuesday. “Here we are, a top-three team in the A-10 and we have these four guys and a walk-on playing scout team together and sometimes mopping the floor with them. It was like, ‘You know what, we may have something here.’ It was fun.”
Told of those comments, one of the starters, Ryan Mikesell said, “They were really good. There were times they put it on us, but those dudes, they just like to talk. I think it was more even than they say.”
No matter what group had the advantage last season, they’re all one team now. Four transfers who sat out last season, plus Matos, who suffered a season-ending injury in the sixth game, will debut for the Flyers in the 2019-20 season, along with one incoming freshman, Moulaye Sissoko. It’s an interesting and talented group.
“We’ve got a chance to be pretty special next year,” Damaska said. “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 actually get started and see what they can do in games.”
While the transfers have plenty of potential, they are also unproven. Michigan transfer Ibi Watson averaged 4.9 minutes per game in two seasons at Michigan. Chase Johnson appeared in six games in two injury-plagued seasons at Florida and left the school in the second month of his redshirt freshman season.
Rodney Chatman did play major minutes in two seasons at Chattanooga and started as a sophomore but now has to prove himself at a higher level. Jordy Tshimanga also saw significant playing time in two seasons at Nebraska, but Dayton will need him to play a bigger role.
Four of Dayton’s returning players — Mikesell, Trey Landers, Obi Toppin and Jalen Crutcher — have gotten to know the transfers well in practice. Here’s their scouting report on each of them.
Watson, 6-foot-5 guard from Pickerington
Mikesell: “Ibi is my roommate. He’s one of my best friends on the team. We’re together 24-7. We work out together. We do everything together. That dude can score the basketball. He can shoot like crazy. He’s a very smart player. He’s mature. Being at Michigan, he has that experience of going to the Final Four and being around really good players. He’s going to be a huge addition to the team.”
Landers: “I played with him in AAU. He’s really crafty. He can shoot the ball off the dribble. He can score on all three levels. He has a competitive spirit and drive. He’s always trying to get better and working on his game.”
Toppin: “He’s a shooter. He doesn’t miss at all.”
Crutcher: “You can’t leave him open.”
Chatman, 6-1 guard from Lithonia, Ga.
Mikesell: “He kind of reminds me of Kyle Davis. Kyle is kind of one of a kind, but the way (Chatman) defends, his tenacity, he has that swagger about him when he gets on the floor, that you’re not going to out-tough me. He’s going to be huge for us defensively.”
Toppin: “He’s a lockdown defender. He can touch his ankles standing straight up. He has really long arms.”
Tshimanga, 6-11 center from Montreal, Quebec
Mikesell: “Big Jordy is a load in practice. He’s lost a ton of weight. He’s in really good shape for how big he is.”
Landers: “I have to guard him sometimes in open gym. He’s just a load. He can move laterally. He can get off the ground. We haven’t really had many bigs here since Steve (McElvene). He’s a true center. Just knowing he’s going to be on my team makes me a lot more comfortable.”
Toppin: “He’s a bulldozer. You get him in the paint, good luck with that. Being in the post with him is getting me prepared for a lot of things in the upcoming season and even at the next level. … He definitely has the best personality. He’s just so open. He does anything he wants and doesn’t care what anybody thinks.”
Crutcher: “I don’t think nobody in the A-10 will be able to guard him. He’s too big.”
Johnson, 6-9 forward from Ripley, W.Va.
Mikesell: “Chase is one of our most athletic guys. He’s up there with Obi. He just gets off the ground so quick. He’s a little young. He hasn’t really played a ton in college. There’s going to be a learning curve for him, but his potential is really high.”
Landers: “He can get off the ground like a freaking pogo stick. He can shoot the ball well. He’s the ideal definition of a stretch four. He’s an underrated passer.”
Crutcher: “He’s going to get a lot of rebounds and also can put it on the ground, too.”
Sissoko, 6-9 center from Bamako, Mali
Mikesell: “He’s physically dominating. He’s so strong. He’s physically ready to play at this level.”
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