High expectations changed into growing expectations and now out-sized expectations.
» MARCH FORECAST: Where UD stands in NCAA tournament picture
No Dayton Flyers team in recent memory — certainly no team in the era of social media — has received the kind of national attention during the regular season the 2019-20 team has earned. Everyone’s talking about Obi Toppin as a national player of the year candidate. Anthony Grant has received several mentions in the national coach of the year race.
Toppin, Grant and the rest of the No. 13 Flyers (15-2, 4-0) deserve it, of course. They’re winning and winning big and still haven’t lost a game shorter than 45 minutes. Now it’s up to Grant and his staff to remind the players of how important it is to remain focused and not be distracted by the big picture. The third-year coach did just that after a 79-65 victory Tuesday against Virginia Commonwealth.
In a video shared by the official Dayton basketball Twitter account, Grant tells the players in the locker room, “We’re four games into this thing. They don’t crown anybody champions after four games. Let’s keep moving forward and keep our eye on the ball.”
That will be a challenge as media and fans sing the praises of a team. Consider this Tweet from Dec. 30 by Jon Rothstein, of CBSSports.
“Obi Toppin is an All-American,” Rothstein wrote. “And Dayton is the Atlantic 10’s best chance to get to a Final Four since Chris Mack’s Tu Holloway/Mark Lyons Xavier team in 2012. In a season of parity, the Flyers have the right to dream of (the Final Four in) Atlanta.”
Then on Wednesday, national sports business reporter Darren Rovell shared numbers from DraftKings Sportsbook showing more people are laying bets on Dayton to make the Final Four than any other team.
Mo Egger, a UD grad who hosts a daily sports talk show on ESPN 1530 in Cincinnati, featured the Flyers on Thursday and said there’s a “really cool” story happening with this team.
“They have been nationally ranked for weeks,” Egger said. “They are pummeling everyone in sight in the Atlantic 10. Obi Toppin has taken a major star turn, and in a year like this in college basketball, first of all, I think they’re the most fun to watch. No. 2, in what people look at as a wide-open year — not a lot of great teams, parity if you will — I think it’s fair to look at the Flyers through the lens of a team, especially with their experience, that can make a long run in March.”
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