Dayton’s season ends as it announces it ‘will decline any postseason opportunities’

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Flyers finish 22-12 in Anthony Grant’s sixth season as coach

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The Dayton Flyers didn’t wait for the NIT selection show late Sunday night.

Explore» PHOTOS: Dayton vs. VCU

UD released this statement at 8:35 p.m. Sunday, hours after a 68-56 loss to Virginia Commonwealth in the Atlantic 10 Conference championship game at the Barclays Center, that it wouldn’t accept an invitation to any postseason basketball tournament.

“Due to health concerns for our overall roster, and in consultation with our team, the University of Dayton has decided to decline any other postseason opportunities this year,” UD announced. “While our players and coaching staff are always grateful for the opportunity to compete, this decision is in the best interests of the program this season. Everyone associated with the UD men’s basketball program appreciates the Flyer Faithful and is thankful for the fans who supported them all year.”

Dayton battled injuries all season and lost two players to knee injuries in the final game of the regular season at Saint Louis. Kobe Elvis was unable to participate in the A-10 tournament because of his knee injury. Mike Sharavjamts missed the quarterfinal game but did return for the final two games of the tournament. Earlier, Malachi Smith and Elvis both missed missed a major chunk of the season after suffering injuries within minutes of each other during the final game of the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Asked after the game Sunday about whether he hoped for a NIT bid, Dayton coach Anthony Grant said, “I think our group has been banged up quite a bit. No excuses, but we’re far from healthy. We’ve got guys that are available. So I think we have to look at it and see what’s best individually and collectively for this group.”

One NIT projection, by, had Dayton playing at Cincinnati in the first round. Another NIT expert, John Templon, did not have Dayton in his bracket prediction but wrote on Twitter before UD’s announcement he wouldn’t have been shocked to see Dayton make the field.

Even after the NIT bracket was released Sunday night, it wasn’t clear if Dayton would have been in the field if had not withdrawn from consideration. No A-10 team made it after four teams received bids in 2021 and 2022.

This was the first time since 2018 the A-10 didn’t place a team in the NIT. It had three teams in the NCAA tournament that season. The last time the A-10 had only one NCAA tournament team in 2005 as it did this year, it had three NIT teams. This is the first time since 1979 when Rutgers represented the league in the NCAA tournament, the A-10 has had one NCAA tournament team and no NIT teams.

Dayton finished 22-12 in the 2022-23 season. Grant is 124-63 in six seasons. The Flyers played in the NIT in three of his first five seasons, losing in the first round at Colorado in 2019 and against Memphis in Texas in 2021 and in the second round at Vanderbilt last season after a first-round victory at Toledo.

Dayton missed its last 15 shots against VCU and blew an 11-point second-half lead. The loss cost Dayton its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2017, though it would have been one of the top seeds in the 2020 tournament if it had not been cancelled because of the pandemic.

Dayton wasn’t the only program to opt out of the NIT before the bracket was revealed. North Carolina, the program Dayton beat to win the NIT in 2010, also decided not to participate.

“All season our focus and goal have been on being the best team we can possibly become and reaching our full potential to give us another opportunity to compete, play for and win an NCAA championship,” North Carolina coach Hubert Davis said in a statement. “Although we no longer have that opportunity and this season wasn’t what we had hoped for, I want to thank our players and staff for their hard work and love for Carolina Basketball. Many factors go into postseason play and we believe now is the time to focus on moving ahead, preparing for next season and the opportunity to again compete for ACC and NCAA championships. I also want to thank our great fans for their incredible support. Our commitment to you is what drives us to improve our program in every way.”

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