Frank Case’s scrapbook, which is more than six decades old and nearly the size of a coffee table, belongs in museum.
If a Dayton Flyers basketball museum existed — and maybe that's the next project for UD Arena Director Scott DeBolt now that the three-year renovation project has concluded — that's where it would be. Instead, it sat on a table in Case's office at his home in Miamisburg last week as he flipped through the pages, reliving memories of a career that ended 60 years ago next month.
The scrapbook has held up well. The Dayton Daily News pages pasted into it have yellowed but still tell a story of a memorable season.
“These Flyers, who finish home card tonight, worthy of kudos,” read the headline on a Si Burick column in February.
“Flyers take it easy; take Toledo, too, by 59-48,” read another headline after the team’s 16th straight victory.
“UD fans stunned by Xavier defeat,” read a headline after Dayton lost in the NIT championship for the fifth time in eight years.
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Despite the ending, that season remains one of the greatest in Dayton history, and it's increasingly relevant these days as the current Flyers keep winning. Dayton won 16 games in a row that season. It had not matched that feat until Saturday when it beat Duquesne 80-70 for its 16th straight victory.
No one will cheer harder for Dayton to extend that streak to 17 and beyond more than Case, a 6-foot-3 guard from Jamacia High School and Flushing, N.Y., who ranks 35th in school history with 1,175 points.
“If you think that I’m not rooting for them to win, you’re crazy,” Case said. “I want them to win out. This team, I’ll tell you, I haven’t been as excited about UD basketball as this in a long time. It’s great.”
This Dayton team has already matched the win total of that 1957-58 team. The Flyers took a 25-2 record into the final two weeks of the regular season. Dayton finished 25-4 in 1957-58, losing only to Miami in the third game of the season and to California in the ninth game before winning 16 in a row. The streak ended with a 70-66 loss to Cincinnati, which starred a newcomer named Oscar Robertson.
Case’s team had a 23-2 before losing the Bearcats. That was the program’s best record through 25 games until this season. The current Flyers matched that record and then kept winning.
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The teams are also similar in that both reached the top 10 in the Associated Press poll. Dayton climbed to No. 4 this week and has been ranked since December. In 1957-58, it moved into the poll in late January and climbed as high as No. 8.
“It was (big) to me, but it wasn’t as big then as it is now,” Case said. “To me, I’m thinking, ‘Wow, everybody knows we’re alive out here.”
Case attended Seton Hall as a freshman but transferred to Dayton and became an immediate contributor. He averaged 12.7 points as a sophomore in his first season at Dayton, trailing two seniors in scoring: Jack McCarthy (14.6) and Don Lane (12.8). That team also included Bucky Bockhorn, who averaged 10.8 points and a team-high 12.4 rebounds in his final season.
Case didn’t expect big things from that team.
“Position by position, even in those years, we were small,” Case said. “I’m a 6-2 1/2 forward. The average size for a forward in those days was about 6-5. McCarthy was 6-6, and centers were normally 6-8. Now our guards were good size. Lane was 6 foot. Terry Bockhorn was 6 foot. But we played team ball. McCarthy was the best pick-and-roll center I ever played with. You knew exactly where he was going to be after he set the screen. Man, he’d go to the basket and you’d give him the ball and it was two points and thank you very much.”
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Like the current Flyers, the buzz surrounding the winning streak didn’t bother Case and his teammates.
“We really didn’t discuss it among ourselves,” he said. “We just went out there and played ball, and it just flowed.”
Case didn’t realize just how good the team was until the end when coach Tom Blackburn closed the locker room door after the 78-74 overtime loss to Xavier and complimented every one of the players.
“He said it was a great season,” Case said, “and he was proud to be our coach.”
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