Dayton Flyers season preview: Fans dreaming big as always

Season begins Nov. 7 at UD Arena, but fans can see the team for the first time this Saturday at Red & Blue Game

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

EDITOR’S NOTE: David Jablonski is counting down to the Dayton men’s basketball season opener on Nov. 7 with 25 pieces previewing the 2022-23 season. This is the first story.

I’ve spent recent days working on my Associated Press top-25 preseason poll, which is due Friday. This is the third year I’ve voted. The preseason poll that comes out at noon Monday will be the first one that includes a vote from me — the UD beat writer for the Dayton Daily News for 10 seasons now — for the Dayton Flyers.

Dayton has not received a vote in the poll since it climbed to No. 3 in the final weeks of the 2019-20 season. I started voting the following season when Dayton got off to a 4-1 start but then lost to La Salle and Fordham in a seven-day stretch, dropping off the radar for all pollsters.

Last year, Dayton would have entered the rankings after beating Miami, Kansas and Belmont in the ESPN Invitational if it hadn’t lost three straight games to UMass Lowell, Lipscomb and Austin Peay before that tournament. The Flyers played well the rest of the season, finishing 24-11, but never generated enough momentum to capture the attention of the voters.

Although Dayton hasn’t tempted me into voting for it the last two years, I never wanted to be the only voter putting Dayton in the top 25. The voting guidelines make it clear it’s important to be impartial.

“Avoid regional bias,” they read. “Your local team does not deserve any special preference. ‘Homerism’ will be challenged and could lead to dismissal from the panel.”

This season, at least in the preseason, I don’t have to worry about being seen as a homer when voting for Dayton. Almost every national writer who ranked the teams in their “way-too-early” predictions one day after the 2021-22 season ended had Dayton in the top 25. All the preseason publications I’ve seen this fall also ranked Dayton.

I ranked the Flyers 20th in my preseason poll. That’s one spot ahead of another Atlantic 10 Conference team, Saint Louis. I gave my No. 1 vote to Gonzaga, a perennial powerhouse that is a safe bet to contend for the top spot all season, though I expect North Carolina will get the most No. 1 votes after its run to the national championship game last season.

I’ll announce my full poll Monday morning just before the AP releases the full poll, which gathers points from 63 voters.

The preseason poll is really a crapshoot. It’s all about potential and expectations and not actual results, but it’s also a fun way to create excitement for the season ahead. That’s why I asked Dayton fans for their own predictions earlier this month. The same fans who fill UD Arena every season no matter the situation with the team never fail to expect the best from their program.

Below is what they had to say on Twitter My prediction is a 24-7 regular season, two wins in the A-10 tournament and a loss in the championship game and one win in the NCAA tournament for an overall record of 27-9.

• Jack Shannon Jr. (@jackshannonjr): A-10 Championship; Elite Eight run; 26-5 regular-season record; No. 3 or 4 seed in the NCAA tournament.

• Matt Rhein (@mattrhein86): 27-4; 16-2 in A-10.

@TheJJChiles: 26-5 (15-3); DaRon Holmes A-10 player of the year. Malachi Smith beats out Yuri Collins for A-10 first team. Anthony Grant just beats Jordair Jett.

@pfeiffjd: Undefeated in the A-10. Mali hits a buzzer 3-pointer at Saint Louis somehow with less time on the clock than Jalen (Crutcher). Oh ... and we win (Battle 4 Atlantis) with the whole crew in attendance.

Tom Eggemeier (@TomDaytonFlyers): 10-3 OOC; 13-5 A-10; 1-1 A-10 tourney; 24-9. Everybody is surprised when have bad road loss and don’t reach A-10 tourney finals. No. 7 or 10 seed in NCAA tourney (depends on how strength of schedule turns out), reaching round of 32. Small but vocal group of fans still not happy with AG (Anthony Grant) after season.

Toni Develin (@ToniDevelin): 29-2. Flyers win the Battle 4 Atlantis but then drop back-to-back games, fueling speculation that AG is taking over the Knicks. A Covid variant raises its ugly head in February but is destroyed by UD Research who finds a cure in an IPA.

• Kyle Rudy (@rudykyle): 25-6. DaRon will show off his best Tim Duncan/Marcus Camby impression en route to A-10 player of the year. Richard Amafuele, Tyrone Baker, Zimi Nwokeji and Kaleb Washington combine to average less than 10 minutes per game. Three will transfer at season’s end. Dayton takes down Ryan (Archie) Miller at the Ryan Center but struggles on the road (6-5).

• Cody Joakes (@CodyJoakes): 27-4. Win the A-10 regular season and lose the tourney (of course). Go on to make the Sweet 16. DaRon A-10 player of the year. Three Flyers on A-10 first team. Two first-round draft picks in the 2023 draft.

Justin Hinders (@UDers_1): 28-3. We beat Kansas again but all win together at the Casino later. Holmes A-10 POY, second team All-American. Four flyers enter the draft. Julius Randle gets traded, Obi (Toppin) drops 35 at the United Center on Friday, and Flyers beat Wyoming there on Saturday. AG wins more COY awards. Final 4.

Matthew Rego (@MRegoooo): 30-1. We’re going to go undefeated at home, win the Battle for Atlantis, win the A-10 and finish what we started in 2021. Then we make it to the Final Four or win the whole thing because of the depth we have on our team! The Flyers go crazy in the streets like 2014 but bigger!

John Feltz (@UD_engr88): 28-3. Undefeated in non-conference and at home. Still can’t win A-10 tourney.

Danny Greive @DannyGreive): 27-4. Location of best win: Blacksburg, Va. 2-1 in the Bahamas. DaRon A-10 POY and third team All-American. A-10 regular season champs but lose in tournament finals. No. 4 4 seed on Selection Sunday.

@JB_SNKRS1: 40-0 or bust.

Andy Wendeln (@schmendeln): 2-1 in Atlantis with loss in the semis. Big win in Vegas. Three other losses, two of them inexcusable; 27-4; A-10 regular-season title; loss in A-10 semis; No. 6 seed in NCAA, losing a heartbreaker in second round. DaRon robbed of A-10 POY.

@NotJTompkins: 28-3 record; A-10 tourney champs; Kobe Elvis first team A-10.

Lane Willoughby (@WilloughbyLane): 25-6; Holmes A-10 player of the year. Book it.

@oldham_grant: 29-30 wins.

• Andrew Finlay (@andrewfinlay22): 24-7 overall, losing 2 out of 3 in the Battle 4 Atlantis; 14-4 in A-10, including a loss at Davidson and at SLU to end the season. Mongolian Mike (Sharavjamts) in the starting lineup in some way by the start of A-10 play.

• Jerry Kelly (@Dejamorf): 24-7.

Tim Werbrich: (@TimWerbrich): Flyers drop games to SMU and UNLV, then run the table, including the elusive A-10 tourney. Flyers beat Kansas again to get to Final Four, but my Marianist alma mater loses to the eventual champion, the Jesuits of Gonzaga. But no losses in Philly this year ... there’s that too!

• John Raponi (@GhostMcHistory): 30-1. Our only loss is to LaSalle. No. 1 seed in the NCAAs. I attend and I am ejected from the UMass game.

@chormp_: 31-0. I attend three games (UMass, Davidson, GW) and reclaim my Twitter award title as most-traveled UD fan. A guy whose name starts with the letters Kob will hit more than one game-winner. National champions and Holmes will finish the season as a better prospect than Victor Wembanyama.

• Eric Heinrich (@eric_heinrich): 26-5. No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament.

• Chris Caulfield (@CamBlamWam): 26-5; R.J. Blakney hits five game-winners. Holmes and Malachi Smith are first team A-10.

@DaytonLOWD: 25-6; A-10 tourney champs; 5 seed in NCAA; Sweet 16; Holmes late first-round pick.

• Liam Faulhaber (@lfaulsy): 26-5. Zimi Nwokeji has a 30-point game in December. Dayton beats Saint Louis in A-10 championship. Loyola goes below .500 in conference play.

Aaron Cullers (@apcullers): 26-5 but then undefeated in the postseason.

@godaytonflyers: 25-6; 14-4 in A-10; 6 seed. Annual bad loss is at UMass.

@d00gs: 28-3 regular season. Lose in A-10 championship. Hang the banners in March.

• Andrew Dowell (@Dodrew_Anwell): Undefeated and a 1 seed. COVID-22 unfortunately cancels March Madness because we can’t have anything nice.

• Kevin Connolly (@OGCoachConnolly): 27-4; 16-2 in the A-10; Finally win A-10 tourney. No. 3 seed in NCAA tournament; gut-wrenching OT loss in Elite Eight.

Keegan Savage (@KeeganSavage): 26-5. Win A-10 championship Elite Eight run. Holmes finishes in the top 10 stats wise and semifinalist for Naismith Player of the Year.

@MalachiSmithSzn: 25-6. Malachi Smith second team All-A-10. Daron Holmes A-10 player of the year. Mike Sharavjamts A-10 freshman of the year.

• Andy Dorow (@Dorow13): 28-3. Special year for the Flyers. Redemption for Obi!

@JBPDayton: 22-9. Holmes goes pro. People transfer.

@Bengals_Freak: 26-5. A-10 regular-season champs & tourney winners. Notable non-con wins: Wisconsin; at UNLV; at Virginia Tech and Wyoming. Losses: Kansas; at Rhode Island; at Loyola; at Saint Louis; at VCU. No. 5 seed. Sweet 16.

• Larry Adkisson (@bigdaddyaddy44): 27-4.

@uptowngbv: One conference loss late in the season. Talking heads will be debating whether the loss drops us to a 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Gary Taiariol (@garytaiariol): Start 5-0. Lose last two at Atlantis. Lose to Virginia Tech and Wyoming; 9-4 non-conference; 14-4 in A-10; lose to VCU on Friday the 13th, at Rhode Island in a snow storm, to Loyola and Georgia Mason and one to Saint Louis; lose A-10 championship to Saint Louis; 24-9; No. 9 seed; lose in Elite Eight. Overall: 26-10. Ricardo Greer gets a mid-major head coaching job. DaRon, Mali and Toumani return.

@forwest3: 24-7. Don’t win A-10 tourney. No. 6 seed in NCAA tournament. Third-round exit. DaRon first team A-10, Malachi second team. Mongolian Mike becomes a superstar for his dunks.

• Jerry Moosenger (@DatDudeJerryM): 31-0; A-10 champs; national champs.

• Joseph Monaco (@Lawyer_PA_NJ): 24-7; A-10 regular season and tournament champions. Sweet 16 in NCAA tournament.

@BiglogD: 25-7; win the A-10 tourney. No. 6 seed.

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