Dayton Flyers coach Anthony Grant had not talked about the 2022-23 season in an interview since the postgame press conference at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., following his team’s 68-56 loss to Virginia Commonwealth in the Atlantic 10 Conference championship game.
At the time of that press conference, Grant didn’t know for sure if the season was over. Hours later, UD announced it would decline any postseason opportunities, meaning it wouldn’t have accepted a NIT bid it had been offered because of various injuries on the team.
On Thursday, as he met with local media to discuss DaRon Holmes II’s return to UD for his junior season, Grant was asked to reflect on a 22-12 season that fell short of sky-high expectations that started with the team ranked in the top 25 of the Associated Press poll.
“Last year, just simply what our guys had to overcome, I’m really proud of what we were able to accomplish over the course of the year,” Grant said. “Obviously, we set goals at Dayton, where the expectation is to compete for championships, to win championships and to make the NCAA tournament, so we acknowledge that we fell short of the ultimate goal, but I’ll never apologize for the sacrifices, for the commitment, for the way these guys worked in spite of everything that came at them, in spite of what they had to deal with personally as a group. I think they did a really good job. I think it’s something that the Flyer Faithful should be extremely proud of, in terms of the sacrifices and the work that these guys put in, in order to be able to get to the point where we had a chance to play for a championship in the tournament.”
Grant was also asked about the offseason rumors of him considering retirement. Dayton Athletic Director Neil Sullivan said earlier in the spring he never had a discussion with Grant about retirement. This was Grant’s response to the question about whether the retirement rumor was accurate.
“I think the one thing you guys have got to always understand is I’m always going to speak for myself,” he said. “Anything that I need to convey to you, I will, so if you don’t hear it from me, don’t read into anything other than that. Obviously, for me, personally, I love what I’m doing. I love where I’m doing it at. My family and I have been through quite a bit.I’ve been doing this for a while, but as long as I continue to enjoy what I’m doing and the people I’m doing it with, I’m good, so I’m good.”
Grant revealed several pieces of news in his interview at the Cronin Center.
• Dayton newcomers Marvel Allen, Enoch Cheeks, Javon Bennett and Isaac Jack are all on campus. Jaiun Simon was scheduled to arrive Thursday and Vasile Erceg sometime later this month.
• Grant said he expects Koby Brea and Malachi Smith, who have both undergone offseason surgeries, to be ready for the start of the season. Brea had rods inserted into both legs to help with stress fractures. Smith underwent reconstruction surgeries on both ankles.
“Malachi played but was much less than 100%,” Grant said. “He was able to gut it out and make it through to the end of the year. But he is progressing well. We expect him to make a full recovery and be available. And then Koby missed the entire summer last year because of the pain and the issues he had there. He finished the year less than 100% as well. This gives him a chance to recover fully. He’s on schedule, probably a little bit ahead of schedule right now.”
It’s been a busy offseason for Grant and his staff who had plenty of open scholarships to work with following the departure of six players from a 12-man roster between December and April.
Asked how they approached recruiting this spring, Grant said It was about “filling needs and just trying to stay true to who we are as a program in terms of our culture and identity and also getting guys that understand that and want to be a part of that. I think our staff did a really good job with the guys that we’ve added up to this point.”
Dayton added three transfers and two freshmen to the 2023 recruiting class this spring and still has two open scholarships. Grant said the coaches are “actively recruiting.”
Grant said the goal this summer with workouts leading up to a 10-day trip to France and Spain in August will be getting everyone acclimated to the system and familiar with each other.
“We’re taking the overseas trip at the end of the summer,” Grant said, “so hopefully we’ll be in a position where we’ll have the guys together and be able to learn each other as they’re learning the system a lot. There’s lot of new faces. A couple of years ago, pretty much the whole team was new. Now we’ve got a group that’s got some experience together, that have played together, that kind of know who we are and what we do. With a large group of new guys coming in, hopefully, there will be a little bit quicker learning curve because some guys at least will be familiar with what we do.”