The Dayton Flyers aren’t pointing fingers at each other in the locker room, coach Archie Miller said. But the players are looking for answers to the problems that have plagued them for weeks, leading to three losses in the last four games and to the appearance of a season with unlimited potential falling apart on the doorstep of March Madness.
Where do they find those answers?
“It’s very simple,” Miller said Monday. “We have to have a great practice today. We have to have a great mindset as we play at Richmond on Tuesday. It’s quick turnaround. We’ve been on these quick turnarounds very much. As we get done with Richmond, we have to have unbelievable preparation for our Senior Night (Saturday against Virginia Commonwealth). When we get done with that, we’ll take it from there.
“I think somebody from this team is going to step up. They usually do. It’s go time. Everyone understands that. When you lose at home, especially in our program, where you’re expected to win every game, that can take your confidence away, and you start to have some questions.”
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PREVIEW: Dayton vs. Richmond
The Flyers (22-6, 12-4) play at Richmond (15-13, 7-9) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Dayton has lost six straight games at the Robins Center. This is Richmond’s Senior Night.
The Flyers trailed from start to finish Saturday in a 75-66 loss to Rhode Island at home. They have not looked like themselves since a 98-64 victory at George Mason on Feb. 6. All that adds up to what could be a difficult night for the Flyers, who will try to stop a slide that has left everyone baffled.
“We have some veteran guys on our team that need to step up as a group and focus on the things that got us to that point,” Miller said. “We knew we would deal with adversity and there would be ups and downs, but we’re 22-6 and 12-4 going into the last week of the regular season. We have a top-25 RPI. We have the No. 5 non-conference strength of schedule, and we’re acting like the end of the year is disappointing. It’s affecting our effort level. Our older guys who have been responsible for a couple years now are dealing with adversity. There’s no looking around and thinking, ‘Who’s going to fix this?’ It’s them.”
In the Flyers’ last two losses, both at UD Arena against teams they beat on the road, St. Bonaventure and Rhode Island made 19 of 37 3-pointers. Dayton’s biggest problem for a large chunk of the season was blowing big leads. In the last four games, it has not held a lead of more than five points.
If there’s a silver lining for the Flyers, it’s that they haven’t had a full lineup in the last five games and will have one Tuesday.
Sophomore guard Darrell Davis is back with the team after missing Saturday’s game because of the death of his uncle. Junior forward Kendall Pollard returned to the rotation Saturday after missing four games with a bruised femur and played 24 minutes.
After not touching a basketball for 17 straight days, Miller said, Pollard was clearly out of shape .
“He tried very hard to be himself,” Miller said. “The key is, ‘How did he feel after the game, yesterday and today?’ He feels a lot better than he did three weeks ago. By us sitting him for four games, we gave Kendall a chance to finish the season getting better rather than deteriorating. Without him, we lost a lot of confidence. Those guys need Kendall. Kendall is a big part of what we do. He will be back, it looks like, for the rest of the season, as long as nothing changes.”