No one cheers for the Dayton Flyers harder than Colin Connor. No one in the sellout crowds at UD Arena dances harder, either.
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Connor, whose dad Larry Connor runs the Connor Group, a real-estate investment firm, and helped spearhead the fund-raising drive for the UD Arena renovation project, sits behind the Dayton bench at every home game. The camera always finds Connor during the second half. He entertains 13,000-plus people for about 10 seconds with his dancing moves, which are shown on the scoreboard hanging over Tom Blackburn Court.
On Thursday, different cameras found Connor thanks to Dayton coach Anthony Grant, who put his arm around Connor after entering the gym at the Cronin Center. Grant then told the six reporters and broadcasters waiting for an interview Connor would be joining him.
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Grant and Connor did the interview together, and with apologies to the coach of the nation’s fifth-ranked team, Connor won the press conference when he started talking about the Flyers, their game against Duquesne on Saturday at UD Arena and his love for redshirt senior forward Ryan Mikesell. Dayton (24-2, 13-0) takes a 15-game winning streak into the game.
“It’s great,” Connor said. “I’ve got to support my boys. I promised these boys I’m coming to their game at 2, and I will go see my boys on the 28th (against Davidson).”
Connor will almost definitely be there for the final regular-season game against George Washington on March 7. That will be Senior Night for Trey Landers and Mikesell, a fifth-year senior who hasn’t been around long enough in Connor’s mind.
“I don’t want him to leave me here by myself,” Connor said. “I want my buddy Ryan Mikesell to stay here for a while. We’ve got a good friendship. We are best friends together. I need him so bad in my life. He touched my heart.”
“Colin’s trying to get Ryan to stay for four more years,” Grant said.
The players know Connor well — not only from seeing him at the Cronin Center and at the arena. Every time they take the court, just as they leave the tunnel by the bench, they pass a sign with Connor’s photo. The sign reads, “Colin’s Corner.” It was up before this season as part of the third and final phase of the renovation.
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Colin was much younger in the photo. He’s now in his mid-20s and works in the athletic equipment room at UD.
“There’s not a bigger fan than him,” Grant said. “This guy’s loyal. He loves the Flyers. He’s really good friends with all of our players and the staff.”
Grant doesn’t have much time during games to watch Connor’s dancing but said, “He has dance-offs with my assistant coaches and my support staff. They don’t include me. I hear I’m not a very good dancer from most people’s impressions.”
NOTES: ESPN analyst Dick Vitale revealed Wednesday he will be part of the broadcasting team coming to UD Arena for the Davidson game. It will be televised on ESPN2. … The game at George Mason on Tuesday will be produced by the Stadium network but will also be available on Fox Sports Ohio’s alternate channel.
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