The three members of the Dayton Flyers who will play this season but have never sat on the bench at UD Arena — Dwayne Cohill, Jhery Matos and Frankie Policelli — conducted their first joint interview last week at the Cronin Center.
Together they represent one third of Dayton’s available roster this season. The nine-man team also includes three transfers sitting out this season and two walk-on guards. Cohill, Matos and Policelli bring different skills to Dayton basketball, but mostly they bring promise of a bright future for the Flyers.
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The signing of the 6-foot-2 guard Cohill, of Holy Name High School in Parma Heights, in September 2017 gave Dayton coaches their first top-150 recruit.
The commitment of Matos, a 6-5 junior guard from the Dominican Republic who played junior-college basketball the last two seasons, flew under the radar because he made his decision during the season in February.
Policelli’s signing in April stopped the flow of players away from UD. The 6-7 forward from Long Island Lutheran High School (N.Y.) was the first player to commit to Dayton after the departure of five players in March.
The three will play together against an opposing team for the first time Saturday when Dayton scrimmages Pittsburgh at Denison University in Granville. Dayton fans can see them for the first time Nov. 2 in an exhibition game against Capital.
When the players talked last week, they were two weeks into practice. Here are the highlights of the conversation:
Q: How have the first weeks of practice gone?
Policelli: I’ve learned a lot about defense. That’s what we’ve been working on: a lot of defense. I basically just started to learn how to play with my teammates. It’s a transition period, but I’ve had a lot of fun.
Matos: Learning the system, learning how to play defense, how coach (Anthony) Grant wants us to play defense, how to guard pick and rolls. It’s a lot different. We have a lot of terminology. We’ve got to talk all the time. We’ve got different names for every single pick and roll.
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Q: Is practicing defense all the time boring?
Cohill: As a player, it is boring, but as a team last year I think we were 238th in the country in defense. Coach Grant says he doesn’t want that any more. We’ve been preaching defense since summer really. In practice, that’s our main focus. We just feel like we’re getting better every day on the defensive end. Offensively, too, we’ve got so many weapons if everyone plays to their potential then defensively we’re going to get better and offensively we’re going to get better.
Q: How much harder is practice at the college level?
Cohill: It’s a lot harder because every day every player is just as good as you, so if you take a play off, everyone’s going to see it. If you think, ‘I don’t feel like working today,’ you’re going to be exposed and everybody’s going to know you’re not really showing your passion for it and that you don’t want to be as good as you say you do. You’ve just got to come in and work hard every day.
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Q: What have you learned about your teammates? Is Josh Cunningham as good as advertised?
Matos: He’s a hard-working guy. He’s our best big man in the post. He’s always bringing energy. He’s a vocal guy.
Q: You’ve got to develop a great relationship with the point guard, right? What has Jalen Crutcher been like to play with?
Policelli: He’s been very fun to play with. He’s so crafty with the ball and can see so many different angles in the offense. It’s pretty fun to play with him and Dwayne. It’s helped me a lot. They’ve been teaching me the terminology, so I can get more accustomed to doing it in the games.
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Q: What is the first game at UD Arena going to be like for you?
Cohill: For all of us, it’s going to be a different atmosphere. We’re used to playing in front of a couple thousand people, but now we’re playing in front of 13,000 and we’re on TV. We’re nervous, but we’re really excited. We’re always talking about it.
Q: What are your impressions of coach Grant?
Matos: He’s a laid-back guy. He doesn’t talk much, but everybody listens to everything he says because he has a lot of knowledge.
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