Anthony Grant doesn’t want pity. No matter how well his Dayton Flyers team played at times in a run of six games that included three games against teams ranked in the top 20 of the Associated Press poll and another on the verge of the top 25, they still lost five times, failing to take advantage of a schedule that gave them a chance to build a NCAA tournament resume.
Grant took responsibility for the 72-67 loss Sunday to Tulsa during his weekly show on WHIO Radio on Monday.
“Our expectation every time we step on the floor is to put ourselves in a position to win,” Grant said. “There are two or three games we felt we needed to do a better job of controlling our own destiny. Last night was one of them. I’ll be the first to say we got out-played and out-coached. We didn’t do what we needed to do to put ourselves in a position to win.”
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At the same time, Grant praised Tulsa, which beat a ranked team, Kansas State, eight days earlier and had won three games in a row. The Golden Hurricane ranked below Dayton in the Pomeroy and NET (NCAA Evaluation Tool) rankings and still do but pulled away from Dayton in the second half and then held on as the Flyers made one last run in the final minutes at the Basketball Hall of Fame Showcase at Mohegan Sun Arena.
“They had momentum,” Grant said. “They played during the week. They weren’t off for finals like we were. There were a lot of different factors in the game.”
Dayton fell to 5-5. It suffered its fifth loss in six games. It’s the worst stretch for the program since it lost five of the first six games in Atlantic 10 Conference play in January 2014.
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That team rebounded to earn a NCAA bid and make the Elite Eight. It also had a more experienced lineup with three seniors playing big roles and a deep bench.
This Dayton team has one senior, Josh Cunningham, and a seven-man rotation. The eighth available player, freshman Frankie Policelli, has played sparingly. The loss of Jhery Matos hurt the team’s depth, but it wasn’t a deep team to begin the season because it left one scholarship open and added three transfers to the roster who can’t play this season.
“We’re relying on one senior and a junior (Ryan Mikesell) and a half (Trey Landers) — Trey’s really in his second year of experience — and a bunch of young guys trying to figure it out,” Grant said. “In order to be good, you’ve got to go through some stuff. You have to go through some adversity and get some battle wounds. Either it’ll break you or make you stronger. I believe this is a team that will get stronger because of it. At the same time, you can’t keep repeating the same lessons over and over again.”
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