Dayton limits turnovers, shoots well from 3 in exhibition victory

Four players make multiple shots from long range against Cedarville

Like most fans of the Dayton Flyers, Dan Magers didn’t get to see a game at UD Arena between March 7, 2020, and Nov. 1, 2021, because of the pandemic.

“March 7 was probably the best day of my life,” Magers said. “Not even close.”

Magers, now a senior at UD, returned to the arena Monday and sat in the Red Scare student section for an exhibition game after a 605-day wait.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “It takes me back to 2020. It’s great.”

The current Flyers will have a hard time matching the success of the last team to play in front of sold-out crowds at UD Arena, though they are one point better at this point. Two years ago, Dayton started a 29-win season with a 93-60 exhibition victory against Cedarville. On Monday, a dunk by freshman forward Kaleb Washington in the final minute put the finishing touch on a 94-60 victory.

The games don’t count until Tuesday when Dayton opens the regular season against Illinois-Chicago, but this was a good first step for the Flyers, who played in front of a crowd of 13,233.

“Tonight one of one of the things I was looking forward to was first of all just getting back in front of our fans,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “It was great to see so many of our fans come out tonight for an exhibition game. I think that’s one of the things that makes Dayton so special. We’ve got an unbelievable fan base. I thought it was great for our guys to be able to to experience that.”

Seven of the Flyers wore a Dayton uniform in front of fans at the arena for the first time.

“I came here three years ago on a visit,” said forward Toumani Camara, who played the last two seasons at Georgia, “and they were actually finishing the building the arena so I didn’t get to see a game or anything. To finally be in here, it feels good. It’s a great feeling. The community is just amazing. The people here are amazing.”

A 34-point victory against a Division II school will not ramp up the expectations for this group, but it did answer some questions fans had throughout the preseason.

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

1. Who will start?

While the lineup could change once the regular season begins and likely will change multiple times this season because of injuries and performances, the five starters Monday were: forwards Camara and DaRon Holmes II and guards Koby Brea, R.J. Blakney and Kobe Elvis.

“I think those guys earned that opportunity,” Grant said. “We played a lot of different combinations tonight. A lot of guys played a lot of minutes, so I wouldn’t worry too much about (the starting lineup). I don’t think our guys are. I know I’m not as a coach at this stage.”

2. Who’s in the rotation?

The first players off the bench were guards Elijah Weaver and Malachi Smith and forward Mustapha Amzil. While Weaver, the only fourth-year player on the roster, did not start, he was one of four players who saw more than 20 minutes of action. The first eight players to enter the game all played at least 15 minutes.

The ninth and 10th players to see the court in the first half were center Moulaye Sissoko and forward Kaleb Washington.

In the final eight minutes of the second half, guard Lynn Greer III and Richard Amaefule got in the game for the first time.

3. How is the team’s health?

Forward Zimi Nwokeji was the only player missing. He was not at the game. Grant said after the game Nwokeji has an upper body injury and they hope to get him back soon.

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

4. Who’s going to carry the offense?

Camara, a transfer from Georgia, led the Flyers with 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting. He tied Holmes II and Amzil for the team lead in rebounds with seven.

Elvis, a transfer from DePaul, made all three of his 3-point attempts and matched Amzil with 13 points. Amzil, Weaver and Blakney all made two 3-pointers. Weaver, who had 10 points, was the fourth player to score in double figures.

Dayton made 11 of 25 3-pointers, while Cedarville missed all 15 of its attempts in the first half and finished 5 of 32 from long range.

“We’ve got a lot of good shooters on the team,” Amzil said, “and we’ll be working on that. I feel like it can be like that the whole season.”

5. Can the Flyers protect the ball?

Turnovers were a weak spot for Dayton last season when it finished 14-10. It ranked 292nd in the country in turnover percentage, according to Against Cedarville, Dayton turned the ball over six times. Its season low last season was eight.

“We did a really good job of taking care of the basketball,” Grant said, “and just really trying to take what the defense gives us. A lot of times, with a young team, sometimes that’s hard to do. But the guys did a really good job tonight of being willing to share.”

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

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