The Dayton Flyers held their first team workout earlier this summer after the second summer session of classes began. The word of the day then — as it will be most of the offseason — was defense.
From the start of the first practice, coach Anthony Grant emphasized how important it will be for the Flyers to improve on defense in his second season.
“We were not a very good defensive team,” said redshirt junior forward Ryan Mikesell on Wednesday. “This summer, he’s really harped on that. We’re making sure our freshmen and all of our new guys are all on board in terms of defensive schemes.”
Dayton ranked 238th out of 351 Division I teams in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com. It ranked in the top 50 in the country in the last three seasons of the Archie Miller era.
Opponents shot 38.3 percent against Dayton from 3-point range. The Flyers ranked 328th in the country in that category.
Junior guard Trey Landers, a first-time starter last season, expects the defense to have more urgency this year. He also thinks there will be more pressing.
Last year, Dayton often played the starters 35-plus minutes. It wasn’t uncommon for some starters to play all 40 minutes. That didn’t help the defense.
“It kind of wears on you,” Landers said. “At the end of the day, you’re going to try to fight through it, but you’re not always going to be 100 percent. I don’t make no excuses. We did what we did. But it’s a learning experience.”
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Dayton has nine scholarship players available this year, with two more players, transfers Ibi Watson and Rodney Chatman, sitting out the season. It won’t be a deep bench, but the players expect the coaches to have more confidence in the entire group, allowing them to play defense without worrying as much about foul trouble.
“I got into foul trouble a couple games,” Landers said. “It kind of hurt us. This year, we’ll have a couple more guys who will be ready to contribute much more to where we won’t have to think about having to save ourselves. We can go all out, and if we get a couple chippy fouls, we trust the next guy to contribute the same amount.”