Former Flyer Goodwin brings team to Dayton for first time since 2018

Dayton plays Division III Capital in exhibition game nine days before regular-season opener

The last time Damon Goodwin took his Capital University team to UD Arena for an exhibition game against the Dayton Flyers, everyone got their first good look at a redshirt freshman named Obi Toppin.

“I don’t remember him dominating at that point,” Goodwin said. “We all knew he was good player and obviously the staff knew he was a good player, but who would have guessed what would happen a year later?”

Toppin, who sat out the previous season as an academic redshirt, came off the bench to score 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting in 18 minutes in an 89-71 Dayton victory on Nov. 2, 2018. He introduced himself to fans with two dunks. There would be many more to come that season and in 2019-20 when he won all the major national player of the year awards.

Goodwin’s program used the game against his alma mater as a springboard to a 21-8 season that included one NCAA tournament victory. The Comets, who retired the Crusaders nickname in 2021, will hope to get a similar boost when they play the Flyers at 7 p.m. Saturday at UD Arena in Dayton’s last game against outside competition before the 2022-23 season begins Nov. 7 against Lindenwood University.

Dayton plays Capital after facing Cedarville University in exhibition games before the 2019-20 and 2021-22 seasons. There was not an exhibition game before the 2020-21 season became of the pandemic.

“We actually talked about doing it last year,” Goodwin said, “and I just didn’t think our team was ready. I’m not sure my team’s ready this year either, but it’s just a cool experience for our guys to play in front of that many people. We’re going to go over in the morning and shoot (at UD Arena), eat, spend the day at UD and go on a tour. For our guys, it’s a unique experience. It’s the only time we’ll play in front of 13,000 people.”

Goodwin, a 6-foot-6 guard from Saint Mary’s, played at Dayton from 1982-86. He ranks 35th in school history with 1,191 points. He played three seasons with Dayton coach Anthony Grant, who was one year behind him in school.

Goodwin is a close friend of Grant’s and a fan of his alma mater, and he’s as excited about everyone else about the potential of the Flyers, who will start the season ranked 24th in the Associated Press top-25 poll.

“I’m really excited for them, especially with what happened a couple of years ago with the COVID year and what a shame that was,” Goodwin said. “I’m sure the Flyer fans feel the same way. I think they have a legitimate shot at having a great year. There are going to be some bumps in the road. The coaches know that. I think sometimes the fans don’t know that.”

Dayton experienced three big bumps last season, losing three straight games at home to UMass Lowell, Lipscomb and Austin Peay. Goodwin got an early glimpse at the 2021-22 team when Dayton scrimmaged West Virginia in his gym at Capital University.

“You could just tell they were going to be good, but they were young,” Goodwin said. “They didn’t know what they didn’t know.”

Dayton and West Virginia scrimmaged again last weekend, this time on the campus of Bethany College near Wheeling, W.Va. The Flyers lost by 12, according to a source. The score of the preseason scrimmages and exhibition games don’t matter as much as the experience the coaches get working with rotations and the players get playing in front of a crowd. Goodwin’s team will play another exhibition game against the Ohio Bobcats on Nov. 3.

“We’ve played a lot of these games, and we’ve never won one,” Goodwin said. “We’ve came close a couple times, but we’ve never won one. And that’s not really what this is about for us. We just want to go compete and give our guys experience and hopefully execute a couple things in our offense and defense.”

This is Goodwin’s 27th season at Capital. He has a career record of 420-282. He’s a six-time Ohio Athletic Conference Coach of the Year. He also coached the Dayton alumni team, the Red Scare, during their first appearance in The Basketball Tournament in 2019 when it was held at Capital in Bexley.

Capital finished 14-11 last season. It lost its top two scorers but returns its next seven scorers, all of whom averaged double-figure minutes.

“We’re going to be pretty young,” Goodwin said. “We’ve got three seniors, two juniors, and five sophomores. Three of those sophomores started last year as freshmen.”

This won’t be Goodwin’s first trip to UD Arena this year. He saw his son Dane Goodwin played with Notre Dame in the First Four in March, scoring 12 points in an 89-87 double-overtime victory against Rutgers.

“It was a lot of fun; it really was,” Goodwin said. “He obviously knew the whole situation and had been to many games there, and it was a great game, which made it an even better experience for everybody. The crowd was great. They came out on the good side of it, so that made it even better. He had fun with it. We had like 18 people there with our family. It was just a great experience for all of us.”

Dane has scored 1,341 points in four seasons at Notre Dame. He announced in April he would return for a fifth season. He had an extra year of eligibility because the 2020-21 season didn’t count against anyone’s eligibility because of the pandemic.

“He went out and worked out at a couple places,” Damon said, “and I think at the end of the day he just wanted to take advantage of the fifth year. I think he will have a chance to play someplace after college, but I just think he thought it was too much to pass up. He did graduate last year, and he can get his master’s degree done in a year. I think he enjoys Notre Dame. That’s a big part of it. He likes where he is. It’s a special time.”

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