The Dayton Flyers returned to practice Monday looking no worse for wear on the surface after putting in overtime — double the overtime, in fact — on Saturday in an 86-82 loss to Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass.
“I had the day off yesterday, and I feel perfectly fine,” Dayton forward Josh Cunningham said, “and I’m pretty sure the guys do, too.”
All five Dayton starters recorded their career highs in minutes. Jordan Davis played 49 of 50 minutes. Cunningham and Darrell Davis each played 47 minutes. Trey Landers played 43. Jalen Crutcher played 40.
Crutcher played every minute in the previous game at Saint Louis and all but one minute in the game before that against Davidson.
The minutes have climbed for the starters because the reserves have not performed well. UMass outscored Dayton 6-0 in the 4 minutes, 13 seconds John Crosby played in the first half. Kostas Antetokounmpo played 3:17 in the first half, and Dayton was outscored 3-0 in that stretch. Dayton was outscored 7-3 when Xeyrius Williams was on the court.
Only Matej Svoboda managed to avoid negative a plus-minus score. In his 12:40 of action, Dayton tied UMass 18-18.
Entering a 7 p.m. Wednesday game against Duquesne (15-9, 6-5) at UD Arena, Dayton (10-12, 4-6) ranks 286th in the country in bench minutes. Dayton’s bench has scored a total of 10 points in the last three games. In the first 19 games, the bench produced at least 10 points 16 times.
As Dayton’s lone captain, Cunningham keeps remind the players on the bench the team still needs them.
“You’ve always got to be ready whenever your time is,” he said. “Just be ready and stay positive.”
While sticking with the starters after halftime Saturday almost led to a victory, there’s no way Dayton will have a chance to string victories together in the Atlantic 10 tournament in March by playing five guys for so many minutes. Getting the reserves back on track and producing will be an important part of the month ahead.
“It’s a difficult situation for those guys,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “Obviously, as a coach you have to make decisions in terms of what you feel is best in any given situation. At that time, I felt like the best thing was to ride with (the starters). But we’re going to need everyone. We’ve said that all year. It’s just a matter of being able to communicate with each individual on our team and understand what we need moving forward.”