Jay Gruden proud of Joey’s journey with Dayton Flyers

Dayton’s Joey Gruden, second from left, stands with coach Anthony Grant, right, and (left to right) his brother Jack, father Jay and mother Sherry during a Senior Day ceremony before a game against George Washington on Saturday, March 3, 2018, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

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Dayton’s Joey Gruden, second from left, stands with coach Anthony Grant, right, and (left to right) his brother Jack, father Jay and mother Sherry during a Senior Day ceremony before a game against George Washington on Saturday, March 3, 2018, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

Walk-on guard makes first career start on Senior Day

Walk-on guard Joey Gruden didn’t find out he would make his first career start for the Dayton Flyers on Senior Day until 15 minutes before the regular-season finale against George Washington on Saturday at UD Arena. His dad, Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden, found out at about the same time while conducting an interview just off the court.

“Is it going to be emotional to see him in the starting lineup?” Jay Gruden was asked.

“Oh shoot, I did not know that,” he said. “He wasn’t sure if he was or not.”

Joey not only started in Dayton’s 88-78 victory, but he held his own in three minutes on the court. He had one turnover but played strong defense. Before the game, he walked onto the court with his dad and mom Sherry and brother Jack.

Joey wants to become a basketball coach after his college career ends, and his dad has enjoyed watching his journey at Dayton.

“I think it’s been great,” Jay said, “Not just learning from the coaches but the players around him about how to be a great teammate. He’s made great relationship with teammates, coaches, friends at the University of Dayton, and I think if he could do it all over again, he’d come right back here to the University of Dayton. I’m very proud of him. It’s a great accomplishment to stick with the program the way he has as a walk-on and keep grinding it out.”

Joey didn’t score in his final game at UD Arena, but Jay will always remember Joey’s first career 3-pointer against Virginia Commonwealth in January.

“That 3-pointer was awesome,” Jay said. “We were watching on TV. I almost blew my Achilles I jumped up so high. It was great. He pulled the trigger and made one.”

More seniors: In addition to senior guards Darrell Davis and Joey Gruden, Dayton honored three student managers before the game: four-year managers Aaron Horn (Troy Christian High School) and Jack Needles (Bexley High School); and three-year manager Trevor Gonzalez (St. Francis High School in San Jose, Calif).

Looking ahead: The Atlantic 10 tournament starts Wednesday at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., with 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. games featuring the bottom four seeds.

Dayton’s victory and La Salle’s loss at St. Joseph’s means the Flyers (14-16, 8-10) will start the tournament in one of the four second-round games Thursday. Dayton’s seed — likely a No. 8, 9 or 10 — depended on the late A-10 games Saturday.

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