Dayton’s chances of earning a NCAA tournament at-large bid, one of the goals every season, look as slim now as they do a year ago at this point but for a different reason. The Flyers had three bad losses on their resume last November but three strong victories. Now they have no bad losses but no resume-boosting victories.
Dayton has only one more game on the non-conference schedule against a top-100 opponent: Dec. 7 at No. 36 Virginia Tech. The path to 23 or 24 victories or whatever number is needed on Selection Sunday got much more difficult after an 0-3 finish at the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Dayton also doesn’t have the health it had a year ago entering December. With starting guards Malachi Smith and Kobe Elvis sidelined “for the foreseeable future,” as coach Anthony Grant said on WHIO Radio on Monday night, this team will have to rebuild around a freshman point guard, Mike Sharavjamts. He has been one of the few bright spots this season and now will get a chance to play an even bigger role.
Mike’s dad, Sharavjamts Tserenjankhar, expressed optimism on Twitter on Monday.
“I believe in @DaytonMBB, coach AG (Anthony Grant), RG (Ricardo Greer) and (the) coaching staff,” he wrote. “We need to get through ASAP. I know we will need magic to win A-10. But we still have a Magic Mike and a team ready to give their all. So let’s hope magic will happen for Dayton.”
Dayton (3-4) shouldn’t need much magic this week to beat Western Michigan (2-5) at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Southeastern Louisiana (4-3) at 2 p.m. Saturday. Those teams rank 307th and 306th, respectively, in the Ken Pomeroy ratings. Only Dayton’s season-opening opponent, No. 344 Lindenwood, a Division I newcomer, ranks worse.
While the Flyers will be without two starting guards, they should get their top sixth man from last year, Koby Brea, back in the rotation, Grant told the voice of the Flyers, Larry Hansgen, on the Flyer Insider radio show Monday. Brea missed the first three games with a “lower body injury,” returned to play against UNLV but did not travel with the team to the Bahamas because of an illness.
If Smith and Elvis don’t play again this season, both would be eligible for a medical redshirt. Players can get the year back if they suffer a season-ending injury in the first half of the season and don’t play in more than 30% of a team’s games. Dayton will play at least 32 games this, so 30% would be nine games. Elvis played in seven, and Smith played in four.
Grant did not provide a timetable for possible returns of Smith or Elvis.
“I don’t know anything in terms of the amount of time or anything yet,” Grant told Hansgen. “As of right now, they’re both on crutches and unavailable at this time. Moving forward, we’ve got to plan to be without them. Hopefully, we’ll know more within the next few days.”
Western Michigan at Dayton, 7 p.m., Spectrum News 1, ESPN+, 1290, 95.7