This Dayton Flyers men’s basketball season has had everything — the program’s best-ranking in more than 50 years, the best start in league play in 16 years, a player earning more national attention than perhaps any player in school history — but has lacked one thing: the presence of a legend or The Legend.
Nineteen games into the season, Bucky Bockhorn has yet to call a game on WHIO Radio alongside his longtime partner Larry Hansgen. Bockhorn underwent back surgery earlier this season and has been on the mend.
“Let’s put it this way,” Bockhorn said Thursday. “I haven’t had dress pants on in about 10 weeks.”
However, there’s good news that goes along with that. Bockhorn, 86, said the surgery wasn’t as bad as he thought and took care of some his pain. He had his last appointment in the first phase of his rehab recently, and now Hansgen is going to take over the rehab at Bockhorn’s home.
Bockhorn said he gets questions all the time about whether he’s going to return to radio this season and wants everyone to know he hopes to do a couple of games.
“Give me about two more weeks,” Bockhorn said, “and I may think about coming to do a game.”
Even though he hasn’t been at UD Arena or at road games, Bockhorn has kept up with the No. 7 Flyers (17-2, 6-0), who won their eighth straight game Wednesday, 88-60 over St. Bonaventure. He can identify with what they’re experiencing. He was a senior on the last Dayton team to be ranked in the Associated Press poll for eight straight weeks.
Dayton won 15 games in a row to climb as high as No. 8 in the 1957-58 season. Bockhorn averaged 10.8 points that season and finished his career with 941 points in three seasons. He was recently passed by Crutcher on the scoring list.
Sometime soon Bockhorn will get to see Crutcher in person again. When he does call a game, it will be the 51st season he has done so at UD and his 37th with Hansgen. Few teams have been as strong as this one.
“I’ll tell you one thing, this team is enjoyable to watch,” Bockhorn said.
Since Bockhorn hasn’t been able to provide analysis on radio, here are his takes on this team:
On the team in general: “What impresses me is it seems to me — and even when I was watching practice this summer — the camaraderie is really good. … This team reminds me of our ‘57-58 team when I played. We went on that winning streak. We were not supposed to be very good that year.”
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On the offense: I’m just amazed at how well they pass the ball and hit the open man. I haven’t seen one guy that’s greedy and looking for shots.”
On Obi Toppin: “Obi’s sensational. He just amazes me sometimes. He’s probably right there in the top five or six spots (in Dayton history), somewhere in there. I go way back, but I don’t think you can take the old guys and make comparisons. Don May was an absolute beast. We had some good ones. Johnny Davis and Donald Smith from back in the old days. Brian Roberts was a great shooter.”
On Jalen Crutcher: “That’s my man, Jalen. I love that kid. You can print that. I really believe he’s made more clutch shots than anybody who’s played at UD. Maybe not. But I enjoy watching him play.”
On the Toppin-Crutcher connection: “Obi and Crutcher work so well together. That pick and roll, those long passes on run-outs. Deadly.”
On the seniors: “The unsung heroes of this team are Ryan Mikesell and Trey Landers. They’re blue-collar guys who get it done. They’re showing great leadership with this team, too.”
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