Flyers’ Josh Cunningham: ‘Can’t let the losing get us down’

Dayton flirting with first losing season since 2005-06

The Dayton Flyers lost their seventh game of the 2017-18 season on Dec. 30, falling 70-62 at Duquesne. That’s another reminder of just how much things have changed from recent seasons.

In 2015, Dayton lost its seventh game March 7 in the regular-season finale at La Salle. In 2016, Dayton won 25 games before losing its seventh, falling to St. Joseph’s in the Atlantic 10 tournament on March 12. A season ago, Dayton was 24-6 when it lost March 10 to Davidson, again in the A-10 tournament.

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The seventh loss this season came in the A-10 opener, and no one on this Dayton team knows how different that is than senior guard Darrell Davis. The Flyers finished 27-9 when he was a freshman, 25-8 the next year and 24-8 last season. For now, Davis and his teammates are putting on a brave face when it comes to questions about how they’re dealing with losing.

“I think our team is putting each loss behind them,” Davis said Tuesday. “Like I tell them, you can’t dwell in the past. When March gets here, people don’t look at your record. They look at whether you’re advancing in the tournament.”

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Redshirt junior forward Josh Cunningham, the team’s lone captain, has urged his teammates to stay positive.

“There’s plenty of more season to play,” Cunningham said. “We’ve just got to have fun. We can’t let the losing get us down. We’ve just got to be positive.”

The Flyers (6-7) were picked to finish fifth in the Atlantic 10 Conference, but predicts they will finish 9-9. Their chances of winning Wednesday at home against Saint Bonaventure were 38 percent.

“We’re all competitors,” sophomore guard Trey Landers said. “We don’t like losing. At the end of the day, you’ve got to bounce back.”

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When the season began, Dayton had dreams of contending for a third straight Atlantic 10 championship and a fifth straight NCAA tournament berth — heights never reached by this program — but it will have to make major strides in the coming weeks if it doesn’t want to flirt with a losing season. Dayton has had only one losing record since the turn of the century, finishing 14-17 in 2005-06, Brian Gregory’s third season. The current streak of 11 straight winning seasons is the program’s longest since a streak of 23 straight winning seasons from 1948-71.

Dayton coach Anthony Grant said his team’s attitude has been good throughout the up-and-down season.

“We’ve got a really young group that is learning what it takes to compete and have success in college basketball mixed in with a guy like Darrell, who has been a part of a lot of winning here,” Grant said. “Josh has seen a lot here obviously as a redshirt junior. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to play as much last year because of injury. Outside of that, we have a lot of guys in different roles who have seen a lot, but in terms of being in the fire, we’re learning. That’s a process that unfortunately sometimes it doesn’t end in the results you want. Hopefully, we’ll continue to get better and grow.”

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