Anthony Grant began his second season as Dayton Flyers head coach on Wednesday with the goal of returning the program to contention in the Atlantic 10 Conference and competing for a NCAA tournament bid. That’s the goal every season, he has said multiple times since being hired in 2017.
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While Dayton has a chance to do that — or at least improve on last season — three of the last four Dayton coaches have taken a step back in their second season. Here’s a look at how Grant’s second team compares to the second teams of Jim O’Brien, Oliver Purnell, Brian Gregory and Archie Miller:
Previous record: 14-17
Returning starters (4): Josh Cunningham, Trey Landers, Jalen Crutcher and Jordan Davis.
Top player: Cunningham averaged 15.6 points per game as a redshirt junior.
Final record: To be determined. Dayton opened the season with a 78-70 victory against North Florida.
Previous record: 20-13
Returning starters (3): Josh Benson, Kevin Dillard and Devin Oliver.
Top player: Dillard averaged 15.3 points and 4.5 assists as a senior.
Season summary: Dayton, featuring six players who would play key roles for the Elite Eight team a year later, finished 17-14 and slipped from 9-7 in the A-10 to 7-9. The Flyers were 1-7 in A-10 road games. The team lost six games by two points or fewer.
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Previous record: 24-9.
Returning starters (2): Mark Jones and Marques Bennett.
Top player: Monty Scott averaged 11.1 points and 4.6 rebounds as a sophomore.
Season summary: The loss of seniors Ramod Marshall, Keith Waleskowski and Sean Finn, three double-digit scorers the previous year, was too much for a young Dayton team to overcome. Gregory's second team finished 18-11 and fell from a 12-4 mark in A-10 play to 10-6. Two of the team's top-three scorers were freshmen: Brian Roberts (9.2 points per game) and Norman Plummer (9.1).
Previous record: 7-20.
Returning starters (3): Ryan Perryman, Chris Daniels, Darnell Hahn and Jeffrey Brookins.
Top player: Perryman averaged 13.4 points and 9.3 rebounds.
Season summary: Dayton ended a streak of four straight losing seasons with a 15-14 mark and went from 0-12 in its last season in the Great Midwest Conference to 6-10 in its first season in the A-10. The program would suffer losing seasons in two of the next three seasons under Purnell before finding consistency in 1999-2000 with the first of five straight 20-win seasons.
Previous record: 22-10.
Returning starters (2): Alex Robertson and Wes Coffee.
Top player: Chip Jones averaged 20.2 points and 5.6 rebounds as a junior.
Season summary: Dayton fell to 14-15 overall and from 10-4 to 8-6 in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference in O'Brien's second season. His first team had three double-digit senior scorers (Negele Knight, Anthony Corbitt and Noland Robinson) and won the MCC tournament and one game in the NCAA tournament.
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