Dayton Flyers not only short-handed team in A-10

Anthony Grant interview (Jan. 11, 2021)

Next two opponents, Duquesne and GW, also dealing with roster turnover

The Dayton Flyers have dealt with a changing roster all season. The loss of Dwayne Cohill, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in October, preceded the decision by Chase Johnson to leave the program earlier this month. Then Rodney Chatman suffered a hand injury that will keep him out until late February or early March.

Around the Atlantic 10 Conference, Dayton has plenty of company in the bad news department. Its next two opponents have each lost three players in recent weeks — and not for injury reasons.

Duquesne, which plays at UD Arena at 7 p.m. Wednesday, lost guards Lamar Norman, Sincere Carry and Maceo Austin. Norman and Carry will transfer. Austin stepped away from the team for personal reasons but expects to return. All three of those players were starters when the season began.

Carry, especially, is a significant loss. He started 63 games in two-plus seasons and tallied 750 points.

“It’s tough because I’ve worked my tail off to make Duquesne competitive again,” Duquesne coach Keith Dambrot said Saturday, “and I felt like we lost one wall of our house. But our foundation was still pretty strong.”

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Norman entered the transfer portal Jan. 5. The news about Carry and Austin broke Saturday before a game against Fordham in Pittsburgh. The Dukes (3-3, 2-2) still managed to beat Fordham 48-45 in Pittsburgh four days after Dayton lost 55-54 at Fordham (1-3, 1-3).

“I’m extremely proud of the guys,” Dambrot said. “Everyone’s situation is a little bit different. It is very difficult on young people during this pandemic. We got off to a slow start as a team and individually. I’m a little surprised by it. I’ve never had three starters leave at the semester.”

George Washington (3-7, 2-1), which hosts Dayton on Saturday and then visits Dayton on Jan. 20, lost Jameer Nelson Jr. and Maceo Jack, who each averaged more than 20 minutes per game. Another player, Ace Stallings, a little-used reserve, also left the program. Jack transferred to Buffalo.

All this means Dayton (6-3, 2-2) will be favored to win its next three games, though with losses to La Salle and Fordham on its resume, it’s shown the ability to lose to anyone in the A-10. After this three-game run against Duquesne and GW, the schedule gets tougher with road games against Virginia Commonwealth (9-3, 2-1) and Saint Louis (7-1, 0-0) and a home game against Rhode Island (6-6, 3-2), which won at VCU in its last game.

Dayton proved in its last game, an 89-78 overtime victory at Davidson, it can still compete in the league race. The big number in that game for the Flyers, other than the final score, was the turnover count. Dayton committed a season-low 10 and none in the final 18 minutes. It averaged 16.6 in the first eight games.

“That was huge for us,” Dayton guard Ibi Watson said. “It spoke to us that we were really focused and deciding to get shots up instead of forcing plays that weren’t there.”

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