Dayton Flyers focused on individual skill instruction this summer

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Dayton Flyers: 2017 Offseason in Review

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Grant beginning to teach his offense, defense to players

A framed copy of the Dayton Daily News from March hangs on a wall in Anthony Grant’s office at the University of Dayton’s Cronin Center. The March 31, 2017, edition announced the hiring of Grant. On April 1, he arrived on campus for his introductory press conference.

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Three months have passed. Grant’s family will arrive in town soon, completing the move from Oklahoma City. His coaching staff is complete. His entire team — minus redshirt freshman Kostas Antetokounmpo, who’s training with Greece’s under-20 national team — is on campus during UD’s second summer session, taking classes, practicing and working on conditioning.

Every day, Grant gets closer to stepping onto the court for the first time as Dayton head coach, 30 years after he left the court as a UD senior. When Grant got into college coaching, there wasn't much a coach could do in the summer with players. That changed five years ago.

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Now players can practice for eight weeks — they don’t have to be consecutive weeks — during the summer. They can train for eight hours a week, but only two of those hours can be skill-related instruction. Grant has spent his first summer as Dayton coach figuring out how to make the most of this time.

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Dayton players huddle before a game against Virginia Commonwealth on Friday, Jan. 27, 2017, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

Dayton players huddle before a game against Virginia Commonwealth on Friday, Jan. 27, 2017, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

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Dayton players huddle before a game against Virginia Commonwealth on Friday, Jan. 27, 2017, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

“It’s been good,” Grant said Thursday. “It’s been kind of disjointed because we had a small group of guys here at the beginning of the first summer session. Then we had guys kind of trickle in. Some of our freshmen were able to come early. The NCAA allowed those guys to be here before they could start classes, so we’ve had guys trickle in based on when they finished high school and got all their stuff through the clearinghouse.”

Juniors Xeyrius Williams, Sam Miller, Ryan Mikesell and Josh Cunningham, sophomore Trey Landers and redshirt freshman Kostas Antetokounmpo were all on campus for the first summer session. Mikesell has undergone two hip surgeries since the end of the season and will redshirt in the 2017-18 season. Miller continues to make progress after breaking his ankle on the same day Grant was introduced as head coach.

Senior Darrell Davis and junior John Crosby went home for the first summer session. Freshmen Jordan Pierce, JalenCrutcher and Jordan Davis all arrived during the first summer session.

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Freshmen forwards Matej Svoboda and Obadiah Toppin arrived on campus just before the start of the second summer session on June 26.

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Anthony Grant speaks at a press conference at UD Arena on April 1, 2017, in Dayton. David Jablonski/Staff

Anthony Grant speaks at a press conference at UD Arena on April 1, 2017, in Dayton. David Jablonski/Staff

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Anthony Grant speaks at a press conference at UD Arena on April 1, 2017, in Dayton. David Jablonski/Staff

“What we’ve tried to focus on is skill development stuff,” Grant said. “The guys have been really receptive to what we’ve done. We’ve try to put in from a conceptual standpoint what we want to do offensively. That’s kind of been our focus this second summer session.”

Grant said his offense has some similarities to the offense run by former coach Archie Miller.

“We’ll try to play with pace,” Grant said. “We’ll try to play in transition. The personnel we have will allow us to space the floor a little bit. We’ll play a lot of pick and roll, similar to what they did. There will be ball movement, player movement. We’ve got a team that should have pretty good depth in the front court. I think we have a team that can be a pretty good shooting team. We’ll try to take advantage of the skill we have defensively.”

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Grant plans to mix it up on defense. Dayton’s base defense will be man-to-man. They will play some zone, something Miller’s teams rarely, if ever, did.

The Flyers haven’t practiced as hard as they will in the weeks and months ahead.

“Compared to what we need to, we’re scratching the surface,” Grant said. “We don’t need to be there. We don’t need to be at our best in June and July. The players feel like they’re learning. They’re beginning to understand what our expectations are and what we’re working toward. If they feel like at the end of the summer, ‘OK, I got a little better. I was able to improve my skill set. I understand what I need to make it a successful year for myself and my teammates,’ then we’ve had a good summer. That’s kind of how I look at it.”

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