The Dayton Flyers walked down the tunnel to Tom Blackburn Court at UD Arena on Saturday before an exhibition game against Ohio Dominican the same way they have done the past three seasons.
The players draped their arms around each other’s shoulders and sang the whole way. If they ever stop this tradition, the echoes will remain. That’s how loud they are — or #LOWD, if you’re in that new tradition.
Fans don’t get to see the Flyers sing and dance very often, unless it’s via video. Here are 10 other fun facts fans might not know about Dayton basketball heading into the 2017-18 season, which begins at 7 p.m. Friday against Ball State at UD Arena:
1. Youth movement: According to the NCAA, only seven teams return fewer than 2,000 minutes played from the 2016-17 season. Dayton, with 2,020 minutes returning from last season, almost falls into a group that includes: Pittsburgh (648); Kentucky (890); Austin Peay (1,392); Robert Morris (1,612); Iowa State (1,728); James Madison (1,881); and Chattanooga (1,909).
Graduated senior Scoochie Smith led the Flyers with 1,000 minutes last season (31.3 per game). Of Dayton’s returning players, Xeyrius Williams played the most minutes (728). He’s followed by Darrell Davis (644), John Crosby (424), Josh Cunningham (162), Trey Landers (52), Joey Gruden (7) and Jack Westerfield (3).
2. Bucky’s back: Dayton basketball legend Bucky Bockhorn begins 46th year calling Flyer games on the radio. That’s the longest tenure of any team analyst in the country, according to UD.
Bockhorn ranks ahead of Wyoming’s Kevin McKinney (38 years) and Wichita State’s Dave Dahl (37). Both of those analysts only work home games.
3. Legendary pair: Bockhorn and play-by-play man Larry Hansgen are working together on WHIO Radio for the 35th straight year. That’s the third-longest streak in the country behind Pittsburgh’s Bill Hillgrove and Dick Groat (39 years) and Wichita State’s Mike Kennedy and Dahl (37).
4. Foreign flavor: Dayton has two European players on the roster at the same time for the first time in school history: redshirt freshman forward Kostas Antetokounmpo, of Greece, and freshman forward Matej Svoboda, of the Czech Republic. Both played in front of fans at UD Arena for the first time Saturday in a 79-61 victory.
5. And counting: This is the 110th season of Dayton basketball. The program’s all-time mark stands at 1,610-1,086 (.597).
Dayton ranks 41st in NCAA history in victories. It moved into the top 50 in winning percentage (.597) this season. It’s tied for 50th.
6. Record hunt: Dayton won 102 games in the last four seasons, setting a school record for victories in a four-year span. To break that record — and give the senior class of Darrell Davis and Joey Gruden the distinction of being the winningest class in school history — Dayton will have to win 27 games this season.
The NCAA record for victories in a four-year span belongs to Duke (133-15, 1997-01).
7. Streak chase: Dayton split the Atlantic 10 Conference title with Virginia Commonwealth and St. Bonaventure in 2016 and won the title outright last season. The last A-10 team to win or share at least three regular-season titles in a row was Xavier, which won or shared five in a row from 2006-10.
8. March goals: Dayton has played in the NCAA tournament four straight years. That’s a school record. Dayton had never played in the big dance more than two straight years until this streak. Nineteen schools have played in the last four NCAA tournaments.
9. Last man: Only one person who sits on the Dayton bench has been there for each of the past four seasons: athletic trainer Mike Mulcahey. This is his fifth season with the program..
10. New coach: Anthony Grant is Dayton’s 20th head coach. A 20-win season would move him into 10th place in career wins.
Three of the last five Dayton head coaches went to the NCAA tournament in their first seasons. Don Donoher’s team was 22-7 and reached the Sweet 16 in 1965. Jim O’Brien was 22-10 and reached the second round in 1990. Brian Gregory was 24-9 in 2004 and lost in the first round.