Dwayne Cohill left the court Saturday after a 71-65 victory against Saint Louis with a big smile on his face. He was laughing with teammate Rodney Chatman as the Dayton Flyers walked to the locker room.
That said something about Cohill's attitude because that day, for the first time in his career, he did not see a single minute of action. It wasn't much better in the previous game when Cohill didn't enter the game until the final minute of a 70-56 victory against Fordham.
All season long, the sophomore guard Cohill had been solidly in the rotation, one of the first guys off the bench after Ibi Watson. Then, in a two-game stretch, Jhery Matos passed him. Fans wondered what happened. Anthony Grant didn’t offer much of an answer after the Fordham game.
“I can only put five guys on the court at the time,” Grant said. “The guys who were out there did a good job.”
After riding the bench again in the Saint Louis game, Cohill maintained a positive outlook. He called it a “great team win” on Twitter and thanked Flyer Nation.
“We ain’t done yet,” he wrote.
Cohill also wrote, “Can’t no man break me. I put it in God’s hands. Let him work. I been through the worst. This lil pain only make me go harder (and) stronger.”
That's what Cohill did Tuesday in Dayton's 81-67 victory against Rhode Island at UD Arena. He returned to the role he has played all season, entering the game with Watson five minutes into the first half, and delivered one of his best offensive performances of the season. He matched his season high with seven points and made 3 of 3 field goals in 20 minutes.
“Credit to Dwayne,” Grant said. “He didn’t get in the last two games, and he got the opportunity tonight and took advantage of it. I was so proud of him for being able to stay with it, to maintain his head, to maintain his poise. I thought he really impacted the game tonight on both ends. Great job.”
One day earlier, Grant shed a bit more light on why Cohill wasn’t playing during the Anthony Grant Show on WHIO Radio. The voice of the Flyers, Larry Hansgen, mentioned to Grant that he saw Cohill shooting on the court not long after the Saint Louis game. He was getting in extra work on a night when he didn’t play.
“As a coach, you love that,” Grant said. “You’ve got to have guys that are competitive and passionate and want to play and believe in themselves. At the same time, you have to understand the team is bigger than any individual. Dwayne’s opportunities will be there. He’s got to put in the work and continue to believe and continue to fight.”
Cohill played in all 33 games as a freshman. He appeared in the first 22 games this season, seeing at least seven minutes of action in every game and no more than 20. He’s now averaging 2.1 points and 1.1 rebounds in 12.9 minutes per game.
Based on those numbers, Cohill is the second most used substitute behind Watson, who could win the Atlantic 10 Conference Sixth Man of the Year award. Cohill’s teammates know how important he is, especially down the stretch of the regular season.
“Dwayne is an amazing person,” forward Obi Toppin said. “I know for a lot of people, not playing in the game would mess with their head. The next day in practice, he was just so locked in. He was going hard. He knew when his time came he was going to have to produce. When his name was called today, he got on the court and did what he had to do offensively and defensively. I give him a lot of props. I would have been a little upset if I didn’t play in the game. He bounced back and did what he had to do and proved to the coaches he can play.”
Jalen Crutcher said players reminded Cohill he needed to stay ready for when his number was called.
“We need everyone that’s coming off the bench,” Crutcher said. “Especially when you get into March. You can’t play six players in March. You need everyone.”