To kick off coverage of the 2017-18 Dayton men’s basketball season, David Jablonski will publish 17 top 10 lists on various topics between now and the season opener on Nov. 10.
Expectations for the 2017-18 Dayton Flyers range from unbridled optimism to doom and gloom with most fans thinking their favorite team will fall somewhere in the middle.
There are many unknowns regarding this team, some of which will be answered Nov. 4 when the team plays an exhibition game against Ohio Dominican. There’s little doubt a team with five players who didn’t play last season will be a work in progress on Nov. 10 when the season begins against Ball State and for the weeks and months that follow.
Here’s a glance at 10 numbers that will play a factor in Dayton’s success:
1. John Crosby’s assist-to-turnover ratio: Dayton’s junior point guard had 39 assists and 34 turnovers last season, or 1.15 assists per turnover. The starter, senior Scoochie Smith, had 2.06 assists for every turnover (144 to 70).
2. Darrell Davis’ 3-point percentage: Davis, Dayton’s only scholarship senior, made 40 of 104 3-pointers (38.5 percent) as a junior. That was a big improvement over his sophomore season (31 of 109, 28.4) but well below his freshman numbers (47 of 104, 45.2).
3. Josh Cunningham’s rebounding average: The redshirt junior forward could be a double-double machine for the Flyers. He averaged 7.9 points and 7.5 rebounds as a freshman at Bradley. It’s hard to judge his numbers last season (6.3 points and 2.9 rebounds) because he missed 21 games with an ankle injury.
4. Kostas Antetokounmpo’s block totals: Every stat the 6-10 redshirt freshman Antetokounmpo compiles will be important because he’s a big X factor this team. It’s hard to predict what he’ll do because he hasn’t played games since his senior season in high school, except for when he played with Greek’s U-20 national team this summer. One thing he brings is length and the ability to swat shots.
“He can really move his feet,” former Dayton assistant coach Tom Ostrom said in March. “He has a knack for blocking shots. Guys will go up for layups and have their man beat, and Kostas will come out of the blue from the weak side to block the shot into the wall. All the coaches look at each other: ‘Where did he come from?’ He’s working really hard on his jump shot. He’s got to get his base strong, his legs stronger for the physicality of the game.”
5. Jordan Pierce’s minutes played: The 6-11 freshman center Pierce will have to learn to defend without fouling. That’s a tall task for young big men in today’s game. Steve McElvene’s minutes were limited because of his battles with foul trouble throughout his redshirt freshman season in 2015-16.
6. Free-throw percentage: Dayton shot 69.3 percent as a team last season. That ranked 215th in the country. The good news is three of the four returners who got to the line at least 30 times all topped 70 percent: Cunningham (19 of 24, 79.2); Xeyrius Williams (35 of 45, 77.8); and Davis (29 of 40, 72.5). Crosby shot 47.6 percent at the line (10 of 21).
7. Jordan Davis’ scoring average: The 6-2 guard Davis averaged 22.3 points per game as a senior at Dutch Fork High School in Irmo, S.C.
“He’s wired to score, “Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “He’ll be a guy who can put up numbers with the way we’ll play.”
8. Trey Landers’ steals totals: The Wayne grad Landers, a sophomore guard, wants to be a defensive stopper for this team. He even switched to No. 3, worn by one of Dayton’s best all-time defenders Kyle Davis the last four seasons. Davis finished his career with 160 steals, which ranks seventh in school history.
9. Average possession length: Dayton ranked 72nd in the nation in average possession length on offense (16.3 seconds) in Archie Miller’s last season. The Division I average was 17.3. Grant wants to play fast on both sides of the ball, so it will be interesting to see what this number looks like in his first season.
10. Bench minutes: Dayton relied heavily on its four seniors last season and ranked 93rd in the country in bench minutes (35 percent). That could change this season with one senior and a 10-man roster.