Dayton Flyers will try to make most of weekend without basketball

UD will return to action on Tuesday at Rhode Island

The Dayton Flyers will make the best of a weekend without basketball. The Atlantic 10 Conference couldn’t find them an opponent to replace Saint Joseph’s on Saturday, UD announced Thursday, one day after the Hawks announced they couldn’t play because of COVID-19 issues.

Instead of playing, UD will rest and get ready for the stretch run of the season. The break could be a good thing for Dayton guard Jalen Crutcher, who has played every minute of the last five games and leads the nation in minutes per game (39.1), not counting American’s Jamir Harris, who has averaged 41.2 minutes but played in only four games.

Dayton’s other top scorer, Ibi Watson, could also use the break. He’s tied for fifth in the country in minutes per game (38.1).

“Those guys have been logging some pretty heavy minutes in every game,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said Thursday. “This will give them a chance to recover from the wear and the tear that their bodies have taken in the last month or two, and hopefully we can finish strong. We’ve got some opportunities in the next couple of weeks. You want to be playing your best basketball.”

Of course, the postponement means Dayton (11-6, 7-5) won’t have a chance to get back in the win column until it plays Tuesday at Rhode Island (9-12, 6-8). The Flyers, who lost 76-67 on Tuesday to Virginia Commonwealth (14-4, 7-2) at UD Arena, will seek to avoid their first back-to-back losses in A-10 play since 2018.

“Obviously, (not playing) is disappointing,” Crutcher said Thursday. “We’ve just got to stay together and keep pushing. I’m going to take it as a rest day. I’m going to get with the trainers and get a lot of treatment.”

This will be Dayton’s first extended break January when it didn’t play between Jan. 17-23 because a home game against George Washington was postponed. Last-place Saint Joseph’s (1-14, 0-9) hasn’t played since Jan. 30 and won’t play until Wednesday at George Washington at the earliest.

“We kind of anticipated this would happen,” Grant said. “There were rumblings early in the week there could be an issue with our game this weekend, and it came to pass. We’ll hit the practice floor and do some film work and continue to move forward to prepare for the next game.

Sixth-place Dayton will play to improve its seeding in the A-10 tournament in the weeks ahead. It only has four games remaining on the schedule, though postponed games against George Washington, Richmond, Massachusetts and Saint Joseph’s could return to the schedule.

The uncertainty with the schedule caused Dayton to move Senior Night celebrations from March 3, when it’s scheduled to play VCU, to Feb. 19 when it plays Saint Louis at UD Arena.

“March 3 is still on the schedule,” said Doug Hauschild, Dayton’s director of athletic communications, “but with the understanding of how things are working, we wanted to make sure these kids get that experience, so we’re going with a game closer at hand.”

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