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 11th story.
Don Donoher coached the Dayton Flyers to the national championship game in his third season. Archie Miller took the program to the Elite Eight in his third season.
Anthony Grant topped both of those coaching performances in some ways by guiding UD to 29 victories and a number of other feats — a No. 3 national ranking, a 20-game winning streak and an 18-0 conference mark to name a few — in his third season. He became the first Dayton coach to be named national coach of the year.
Grant’s fourth year, however, was full of frustration and inconsistency in a season dominated by the pandemic. Dayton finished 14-10 and slipped to seventh in the Atlantic 10 in 2020-21.
In Grant’s fifth season, Dayton experienced the highest of highs — an upset of No. 4 Kansas — and the lowest of lows: three losses in their first four games and then the gut punch of being the first team left out of the NCAA tournament in March.
Grant’s sixth season starts Nov. 7 with expectations higher than ever. Here’s a look at how the 2022-23 team compares to the five previous Dayton teams.
2017-18: The Flyers returned four players who received significant playing time the previous season on a senior-dominated team: redshirt junior Josh Cunningham; senior Darrell Davis; and juniors John Crosby and Xeyrius Williams. They had one sophomore with little experience: Trey Landers.
They had four true freshman who were eligible to play (Jalen Crutcher, Jordan Davis, Jordan Pierce and Matej Svoboda) and one redshirt freshman (Kostas Antetokounmpo) who sat out the previous season. They had two players who couldn’t play: the injured Ryan Mikesell and Obi Toppin, an academic redshirt. Dayton used 12 of its 13 scholarships that season.
2018-19: The Flyers returned five players with significant experience. They added two newcomers to the mix in Toppin and junior college transfer Jhery Matos. They also had two freshmen: Dwayne Cohill and Frankie Policelli. Four of the 13 roster spots were taken by transfers who sat out the season: Ibi Watson; Rodney Chatman; Jordy Tshimanga; and Chase Johnson.
2019-20: The Flyers again returned five players who received major minutes the previous season — six if you count Matos, who played a big role before suffering a season-ending injury in the sixth game a year earlier. Two of the four transfers, Chatman and Tshimanga, had extensive experience at their previous schools.
Dayton added one freshman, Moulaye Sissoko, but decided to redshirt him. Dayton used 12 of its 13 roster spots, filling one of them in December when another freshman, Zimi Nwokeji, joined the roster.
2020-21: Dayton again returned five players who played major roles the previous season: Crutcher; Watson; Chatman; Tshimanga; and Johnson, who appeared in only eight games. The number would have been six, but Cohill missed the season after suffering an ACL tear in the fall.
Dayton had two redshirt freshmen who debuted: Sissoko and Nwokeji. It had three true freshmen: Koby Brea; Lukas Frazier; and R.J. Blakney. A fourth, Mustafa Amzil, joined the mix in December. He became Dayton’s 13th scholarship player.
Dayton also had one transfer, Elijah Weaver, who started playing in December when the NCAA declared all redshirts eligible.
2021-22: Dayton used all 13 of its scholarships for the third time in five seasons. It had six returning players: Weaver; Amzil; Brea; Blakney; Nwokeji; and Sissoko. Everyone in that group started at least two games last season except Sissoko.
Dayton had seven newcomers. Three were transfers: Toumani Camara (Georgia); Kobe Elvis (DePaul); and Richard Amaefule (East Tennessee State). Four were freshmen: DaRon Holmes; Malachi Smith; Kaleb Washington; and Lynn Greer III.
2022-23: Dayton used 12 of its 13 scholarships. It returns all five starters: Holmes; Smith; Camara; Elvis; and Blakney. It returns its top reserves: Brea; and Amzil. It returns two other players who saw limited minutes, Nwokeji and Waashington, and one player who redshirted, Amaefule.
The roster has one new transfer, Tyrone Baker, who played last season at Georgia, and one freshman, Mike Sharavjamts, of Mongolia.
2017-18: Cunningham was named the team MVP after the season. He led the team with 15.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.
2018-19: Crutcher beat out Toppin for the award. Crutcher averaged 13.2 points and 5.7 assists.
2019-20: Toppin and Crutcher shared the award, combining to average 35.1 points.
2020-21: Crutcher won his third straight MVP award, averaging 17.6 points per game.
2021-22: Holmes, Smith and Camara shared the team MVP award.
2022-23: Holmes, an A-10 first-team preseason selection, is the favorite to win the award this season as a sophomore.
2017-18: Dayton was picked to finish fifth in the Atlantic 10 Conference preseason poll and finished ninth. It ranked 103rd in the Ken Pomeroy ratings at the beginning of the season and ended at 172nd.
2018-19: Dayton was picked to finish sixth in the A-10 and placed third. It climbed from 99th to 62nd on KenPom.com.
2019-20: Dayton was picked to finish third in the A-10 and placed first. It climbed from 55th to No. 4 in KenPom.com.
2020-21: Dayton was again picked third in the A-10. Pomeroy ranked Dayton 49th in his preseason ratings.
2021-22: Dayton was picked to finish fifth and placed second fifth with a 14-4 league mark. It was 24-11 overall. Dayton started the season 84th in the Pomeroy ratings and finished 55th.
2022-23: Dayton is the preseason favorite in the A-10. It received 22 of 29 votes in the preseason poll. It is also ranked 24th in the Associated Press preseason poll. It’s the first time it’s been ranked in the preseason poll since 2009. Dayton will start the season at No. 24 in the Pomeroy ratings.
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
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