EDITOR’S NOTE: David Jablonski is counting down to the Dayton men’s basketball season opener on Nov. 7 with 25 pieces (one every day until Nov. 7) previewing the 2022-23 season. This is the 15th story.
Half the task in the preseason is getting to the starting line of the regular season healthy. That rarely happens for the Dayton Flyers, and it’s not going to happen this season either.
Neither Malachi Smith or Koby Brea will likely be available when Dayton opens the season opens Nov. 7. Brea, who has been out the entire preseason, should return before Smith, though Anthony Grant hasn’t given an official timetable for either, nor provided specifics about their issues beyond saying they have lower-body injuries.
Injuries play a big part in every season, though every team goes through them, and no one’s going to use them as an excuse. Teams have 13 scholarships for a reason.
This is my 10th season covering the team, and staying on top of injuries, especially when the head coach doesn’t like talking about them, is one of the more challenging parts of the job. Here’s a look back at some of the key injuries from each season I’ve covered the team.
2013-14: The Elite Eight team was a deep group well suited to overcome injuries, but it didn’t have many problems anyway. Matt Kavanaugh, who averaged 16.9 minutes on the season, missed three games in January after suffering a concussion against Saint Louis, and Dayton lost two of those three games. Alex Gavrilovic, who averaged 6.6 minutes, missed four games in the same month after suffering a concussion in a collision with Kavanaugh in practice.
2014-15: Ryan Bass, a fifth-year transfer from Oakland, averaged 9.5 minutes in eight games before suffering a concussion that ended his season. Aside from that, this team was one of the luckiest in regards to injuries because it survived with a seven-man roster most of the season after two key players, Devon Scott and Jalen Robinson, were kicked off the team in December.
2015-16: Starting forward Kendall Pollard, the Atlantic 10 Conference’s Most Improved Player one season earlier, missed four games in February with a bone bruise on his femur, and Dayton lost two of those games.
2016-17: Pollard missed the first six games of the season with a thigh bruise. Dayton went 4-2 in those games.
After scoring 25 points in two games, Josh Cunningham tore a ligament in his left ankle in the second game of the season at Alabama, underwent surgery and didn’t return until Feb. 10.
2017-18: Ryan Mikesell, who averaged 20.8 minutes per game as a sophomore, missed the entire season after undergoing offseason surgeries on both hips.
Xeyrius Williams, another key returner, missed five games early in the season with back issues, and Dayton went 2-3 in that span. He played in only two games in February and not at all in March.
2018-19: Jhery Matos, who averaged 19.5 points in the first six games, suffered torn ligaments in his foot during the Battle 4 Atlantis in November and missed the rest of the season.
2019-20: Chase Johnson, who averaged 11.1 minutes in the first eight games, withdrew from school in January to be treated for post-concussion stress syndrome.
2020-21: After averaging 13.3 minutes per game as a freshman, Dwayne Cohill suffered a torn ACL in the preseason and missed the entire season.
Rodney Chatman, who averaged 10.0 points in the first six games, underwent hand surgery in January and missed 11 games.
Johnson, who averaged 12.2 points in the first five games, left the program for the second straight season in January to focus on his health and school.
2021-22: Smith battled a preseason injury, and that may have cost the Flyers even if he didn’t miss any games because they got off to a 1-3 start. His ankle injury just before halftime against Richmond in the semifinals of the A-10 tournament may have cost them a NCAA tournament bid. Without him, they blew a lead in the second half, lost the game and watched Richmond win the A-10 tournament and steal a bid.
Dayton also lost Toumani Camara for one game and lost that game at La Salle in late February. It was another costly blemish on their NCAA tournament resume.
Dayton also lost guard Elijah Weaver, who led the team with 11.0 points per game through the first 11 games, to a wrist injury for different stretches totaling 12 games. He underwent season-ending surgery March 4.
DAYTON SEASON PREVIEW
Part 1: Fans dreaming big as always
Part 2: A-10 changes tournament format for first time in years
Part 3: A familiar face returns to A-10
Part 4: KenPom.com’s math likes the Flyers
Part 5: Three new walk-ons join roster
Part 6: Grant, Martin don’t look forward to coaching against each other
Part 7: Ranking difficult of non-conference opponents
Part 8: Free-throw percentage a stat to watch for Flyers
Part 9: UD roster again full of international talent
Part 10: Ranking quality of exempt tournaments
Part 11: How Grant’s first six teams compare
Part 12: The rising star of DaRon Holmes II
Part 13: How rare is returning five starters?
Part 14: Is NCAA tournament expansion coming?
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