Jordy Tshimanga had one word to describe how he felt after making his first appearance in a Dayton Flyers uniform.
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“Tired,” he said with a laugh.
Then the redshirt junior center added, “Trying to get that game wind is a little different than practice, but it felt good being out there with my teammates.”
Tshimanga, who transferred from Nebraska to Dayton in August 2018 and sat out last season, talked about his debut as he stood outside the Lahaina Civic Center, sweating in the 84-degree weather after an 80-61 victory Monday against Georgia in the first round of the Maui Invitational. He missed the first three games and all of the preseason practices with a knee injury, and Dayton didn’t didn’t rush his return.
» PHOTOS: Lahaina Civic Center
Tshimanga said coach Anthony Grant asked him over the weekend if he was comfortable playing, and he said, “Yeah, I feel good. Throw me out there and see how I do.”
Dayton will need all the help it can get with three games in three days in Maui, and Tshimanga contributed three points, a rebound and a blocked shot in eight minutes.
“I felt like I helped: from setting screens to grabbing rebounds,” he said. “I feel like I did my part. There were a few plays I could have done more, but my legs and my mind weren’t cooperating.”
It was a long road back for Tshimanga, who didn’t dress in uniform for the first two games. He warmed up and did wear the uniform in Dayton’s third game against Omaha but didn’t play. When he left the game in the final minutes Monday, there were big smiles up and down the Dayton bench, plus plenty of hugs, and the hundreds of Dayton fans behind the bench gave him a standing ovation.
“Jordy’s been out for probably a good eight weeks,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said. “He hasn’t had a chance to really practice in any shape or fashion. He got his first practice where he was able to go for a full practice on Saturday. It was just a matter of how he reacted to that. He was able to come back (Sunday) and have a decent day. We didn’t do a whole lot, but he was out there and felt good. It was just a matter of before the game seeing where he was and if he felt good enough to go out there, we felt we could put him out there today. It was great. It’s been a long journey for him. I was just happy for him. He’s worked extremely hard. The medical staff did a great job just to be able to get him some minutes. He’s trying to get his rhythm back and get a flow. I know he was really excited to be out there.”
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