Dayton Flyers guard Koby Brea hadn’t talked publicly about his season until Wednesday in Blacksburg, Va.
Coming off a breakout second season, in which he was named the Atlantic 10 Conference Sixth Man of the Year, Brea had big hopes. Instead, an injury and then an illness have limited him to four appearances in the first 10 games.
Brea is back now, but has yet to regain the form he showed last year, and the program is off to its worst start through 10 games since the 2017-18 season. Dayton is 5-5 heading into a game at 2 p.m. Saturday against UNC Asheville (6-3) at UD Arena.
Brea shed some light on what he’s been through after a 77-49 loss at Virginia Tech.
“It’s been really difficult,” Brea said. “This has been probably one of the hardest years of my life. Being out four months, I’ve never been out that long, and then being hit with a sickness once I started to get back into it. I’m the type of person who’s going to be able to get through all of this, but it’s going to take time.”
While it was known that Brea missed the entire preseason with an injury, neither he nor coach Anthony Grant had revealed he had actually been out much longer. Brea said he suffered the injury in the summer. He didn’t expect to miss four months when it occurred. He would not say exactly what the injury was, continuing to describe it as a “lower body injury,” as Grant did throughout the preseason.
Brea returned to play in the third game of the season at UNLV and made 2 of 7 3-pointers in 25 minutes in a 60-52 loss. Grant said after the game he hadn’t planned to play Brea that many minutes.
Brea then missed the next four games because of an illness, which was so bad he had to go to the hospital twice. He sat on the bench with his teammates during a 60-51 victory Robert Morris at UD Arena on Nov. 19 but stayed home when the team traveled to the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas the following week.
“It was definitely hard — not that I wasn’t able to play but I couldn’t even be there to support them,” Brea said. “I was still watching through the TV and everything, but there’s nothing like being there in person. I feel like we’ve been through a lot. Last year, we were able to bounce back, and I feel like we’re going to be able to do it again this year.”
Brea scored five points in 19 minutes Wednesday and made 1 of 3 3-pointers. It was his third game back since the illness. He played 14 minutes against Western Michigan and 17 against Southeastern Louisiana and missed all four of his 3-point attempts in those games.
“I’m really just trying to get back into a rhythm,” Brea said. “Keep conditioning myself, and over time, I’ll be alright. But right now, it’s definitely a little hard.”
UNC Asheville at Dayton, 2 p.m., USA Network, 1290, 95.7