Dayton Flyers fans can count on one hand the number of behind-the-back passes made in recent seasons. Their team has plenty of flair when it comes to dunks, but those kind of flashy passes are rare.
That’s what made the behind-the-back pass by junior guard Jhery Matos on Friday against Purdue Fort Wayne stand out so much. His assist to Trey Landers at the 8:14 mark in the second half capped a 9-0 run and brought a crowd of 13,004 at UD Arena to its feet.
“What’s so crazy is he said he didn’t even see me,” Landers said Friday after the 90-81 victory. “He said he just heard me call his name. I said, ‘Jhery, what if I were at the 3-point line? You would have passed it behind your back, and I would have had to go running and pick the ball up.’ Credit to him. Great pass.”
Matos showed strong court vision with two other memorable assists in the second half: one leading to a dunk by Obi Toppin and another leading to a dunk by Josh Cunningham. He had four assists in the game, all in the second half as Dayton rallied from an eight-point deficit.
“The guys are always in the right spot,” Matos said Monday after practice at the Cronin Center. “I’ve just got to make the pass.”
In his best performance of the young season, Matos also scored seven points (all in the first half) and added six rebounds and two steals in 28 minutes. The junior college transfer from Monroe College has combined with redshirt junior forward Ryan Mikesell, who started the first two games, and freshman guard Dwayne Cohill to give Dayton consistent production off the bench. That’s something the team lacked last season.
“I’m getting more comfortable with my team,” Matos said, “knowing where they are on the floor and just getting the chemistry all together. (Coming off the bench), you’ve just got to be ready to make the right plays and do whatever it takes to win.”
The reward for Matos and all the Flyers after a 3-0 start was a trip to the Bahamas this week for the Battle 4 Atlantis. The team arrived on Paradise Island on Monday. For Matos, it’s an extra special trip because he’s from the Dominican Republic.
“That weather’s going to be really good for me,” Matos said. “I miss that type of weather. It’s going to be good for us. We’re going to be ready. I can’t wait to get there.”
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