Grant: Dayton ‘took a step’ with defensive effort against Omaha

Flyers coach also praises team’s unselfishness on offense

Anthony Grant looked more excited than every player on his team and every fan in the crowd of 13,193 at UD Arena when the Dayton Flyers forced a shot-clock violation in the first half Tuesday against Omaha. He pumped his fist and clapped his hands.

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The thrill of seeing Dayton play the type of defense it will need next week at the Maui Invitational and in the four months of basketball ahead was evident.

“He was going crazy because we talked about that all summer and all of preseason and these past three games,” Dayton forward Obi Toppin said. “Seeing it on the court and seeing we can actually lock in and defend was great. He saw it and was just very excited and talked to us about it in the locker room.”

That defensive stop came during a 17-0 first-half run. The Flyers broke open the game during that eight-minute stretch, led 43-25 at halftime and coasted to a 93-68 victory and a 3-0 start in the 2019-20 season.

“I thought our team took a step tonight, especially on the defensive end,” Grant said. “I thought the first half we set the tone. The story of the game was the effort our guys played with throughout.”

The defensive improvement was one takeaway from this game for Dayton. Here are five more:

1. Dayton's offense continues to perform at a high level: Grant praised Dayton's assists numbers (21 on 37 made field goals) for the second straight game. The Flyers had 27 assists on 37 made field goals Saturday in a 90-61 victory against Charleston Southern.

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“The thing that stood out to me — the word I’ll use — is our guys had joy sharing the ball,” Grant said. “You could see it, just the way the ball moved. There were extra passes. They got excited getting guys open looks whether it was layups or open looks from the 3 irregardless of whether the ball went in or not. That didn’t matter. The ball moved, and they shared it and they got guys great shots. It was great to see.”

2. No Dayton offense has started the season better than this one: Dayton has scored 86, 90 and 93 points in its first three games. It's the first time in school history it has topped 85 points in each of its first three games.

3. Dayton is spreading the points around: Toppin led Dayton with 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting. He's averaging 23.7 points per game. Ryan Mikesell scored 16. Rodney Chatman had 13. Trey Landers and Ibi Watson each had 11.

“We had five guys in double figures again,” Grant said. “It’s great to see it come together for our guys. We’re beginning to understand what we’re capable of and what we need to do to become the team we think we can become.”

4. Watson played his best game: The Michigan transfer did not make a big impact in the first two games, averaging 5.5 points, but looked more comfortable in this game. He made 5 of 7 field goals and dunked twice.

Toppin assisted Watson on his first dunk, a breakaway in the first half. It was the first “Obi to Ibi” connection of the season.

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“Ibi’s a great shooter and dunker,” Toppin said. “He’s a great player. He knows the game. He’s been to the national championship. He knows what it takes to get there. We’re letting him show us what it takes to get there and how much effort we need to put in to get there.”

5. Dayton had everyone in uniform for the first time: Center Jordy Tshimanga wore street clothes on the bench for the first two games but warmed up with the team before this game and sat on the bench in uniform, though he did not see any action.

“Jordy is still in that process of trying to get healthy, get himself back,” Grant said. “He’s been able to do some non-contact stuff on the floor. We’re just taking it day by day and going through that process. We hope sometime in the near future we’ll have him available.”


Dayton vs. Georgia, 2:30 p.m., ESPN2, 95.7 and 1290 WHIO

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