Dayton’s depth improves as Blakney returns from injury

Two assistant coaches are also back on the bench

The Dayton Flyers were almost whole again Wednesday night at UD Arena. Assistant coaches Anthony Solomon and Ricardo Greer returned to the bench after missing three games for undisclosed reasons.

“It’s good to see,” said head coach Anthony Grant after a 72-63 victory against Duquesne. “Obviously, it’s good from a coaching standpoint, but I think for our guys, just having those voices, that leadership, that mentorship back (is important). Hopefully, we can continue to move forward and keep everybody as safe and healthy as possible.”

Dayton (7-3, 3-2) also has a healthier roster than it has had all season, even considering the fact that Rodney Chatman will remain sidelined for at least another month after undergoing hand surgery.

One month after Dayton beat Mississippi State 85-82 in overtime with seven scholarship players available, a season-high nine scholarship players saw the court against Duquesne.

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Freshman guard R.J. Blakney, the team’s top sixth man throughout non-conference play, returned to action for the first time since Dec. 19, playing just over two minutes in the first half. He suffered an injury days before the Atlantic 10 Conference opener against La Salle on Dec. 30.

“He had a good week,” Grant said. “Obviously, he missed quite a bit of time. For us, on a weekly basis, things are changing, so if you miss two weeks, it could be a lot and we’re doing things differently than what we did before. He’s got to get re-acclimated to what we’re doing and has got to get his timing and wind back. I though he did a pretty good job in the limited amount of time he was out there. It’s good to have him back.”

Injury updates: Freshman guard Luke Frazier, who has not seen action all season, did not play but did warm up with the team for the first time since undergoing an appendectomy in mid-December and was on the bench in uniform.

Recruit update: DaRon Holmes, the highest-ranked recruit in Dayton’s 2021 class, transferred from Montverde Academy in Florida to AZ Compass Prep in Chandler, Ariz. He’s from Goodyear, Ariz., so he will finish his high school career close to home.

Dayton fans can see Holmes in action at 5:30 p.m. Sunday on ESPN3 as Compass Prep plays Sunrise Christian Academy, of Kansas, at the St. James NIBC Invitational in Springfield, Va.

Around the A-10: Richmond (9-3, 3-1) became the latest team in the league to postpone a game because of COVID-19 issues. It won’t play Virginia Commonwealth on Saturday. As of Thursday, no decision had been made on future games.

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• Saint Louis (7-1) remains in the top 25 of the Associated Press poll even though it hasn’t played a game since Dec. 23. It fell one spot this week to No. 24.

Saint Louis postponed its first five A-10 games and won’t return to practice this week, according to a report by Stu Durando, of the St. Louis Post Dispatch. That puts its next scheduled game, Jan. 20 against Massachusetts, in jeopardy. Dayton is scheduled to play at Saint Louis on Jan. 26.

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