Selection Sunday full of memorable moments for Dayton Flyers over the years

Whenever UD does return to the big dance, it will be a moment that joins this collection

The Dayton Flyers will not hear their name called on Selection Sunday for the fourth straight year. Of course, there was no Selection Sunday in 2020 when they might have been one of the No. 1 seeds to hear their name called at the beginning of the show.

Nevertheless, the disappointment Dayton fans felt in 2018 when a four-year NCAA tournament run ended and in 2019 when the Flyers settled for a NIT bid will continue. Selection Sunday is a holiday in Daytonwhen the Flyers earn a bid, and it has created some memorable moments over the year, especially when the Flyers haven’t been to the tournament in years. Whenever Dayton does return to the tournament, it will be that much special.

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Here’s a look back at the Dayton Daily News coverage from last four Selection Sundays when Dayton heard its name called after an absence of at least four years.

March 11, 1990

Storyline: The Flyers clinched their first NCAA berth since 1985 by beating Xavier 95-89 in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference tournament final on March 10 at UD Arena.

Headline: Flyers want, Flyers get Illinois.

What Bucky Albers wrote: The University of Dayton Flyers were crammed into the family room of Coach Jim O’Brien’s home in Centerville Sunday evening when the NCAA Tournament pairings were announced on television.

“Aren’t you glad we won last night?” O’Brien said to Norm Grevey as the pairings were about to unfold. “I’d be so nervous.”

The East Regional pairings at Hartford, Conn., and Atlanta, Ga., were first on the screen.

Duke went on the board, and Grevey yelled, “Press ‘em.”

UCLA was posted, and somebody shouted, “Revenge!”

Then Oklahoma flashed on the TV as the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region, and one Flyer moaned, “Oh-h-h!”

There was immediate relief when Towson State was placed on the bracket with No. 1-ranked Sooners.

Moments later Illinois came up.

“We want ‘em!” one of the Flyers shouted.

The TV set quickly granted his wish as the magic word, DAYTON, was on the same bracket.

There was a roar and the Flyers all jumped to their feet and began giving each other high fives.

March 12, 2000

Storyline: Hoping for a return to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 10 years and for the first time since the dark ages of the mid-1990s when the program won 17 games in a three-year period, the Flyers entered Selection Sunday with a 22-8 record. UD figured it had wrapped up an at-large bid with a victory against Saint Joseph’s in the quarterfinals of the A-10 tournament on March 9 but St. Bonaventure knocked it out a day later in the semifinals, denying Dayton a chance to win the automatic berth.

Headline: NCAA sends Flyers out west.

What Albers wrote: Tony Stanley wasn’t watching the television set Sunday evening when the Dayton Flyers finally learned that they were in the NCAA Tournament.

”I had a pillow on my face,” he said.

Sitting on a couch in the UD locker room with his teammates, UD’s junior guard had covered his face with the pillow after the next-to-last bracket was announced. He couldn’t bear to watch anymore.

”I took it off when everybody started yelling,” he said. “I didn’t see anything. I just knew we were in the tournament. I got mobbed. I had Day-Day (David Morris) on my back.”

After an agonizing 17-minute wait, the Flyers learned that they were assigned the 11th seed in the West Region. They will be playing sixth-seeded Purdue (21-9) Thursday in a first-round game at the University of Arizona’s 13,859-seat McKale Center in Tucson.

”We were the last team they called,” senior center Matt Cooper said. “I was thinking, ‘Man, wouldn’t it be terrible if we didn’t get in?’ Then everyone was running around in here hugging each other. Someone asked me who we play. I said, ‘I don’t know.’”

March 15, 2009

Storyline: Dayton started the season 21-2 but had lost five of 10 games entering Selection Sunday.

Headline: ‘Dream come true’ for Flyers.

What Doug Harris wrote: London Warren hasn’t backed down from a challenge all season, but he tried to get out of a weighty responsibility that Dayton coach Brian Gregory put on him Sunday, March 15.

With Flyer fans invited to watch the NCAA Selection Show with the team at the Frericks Center, Gregory asked his junior point guard to make some remarks to the crowd after the team learned whether it had made the field.

“Coach looked at me and said, ‘London, I want you to go up there and say something,’ " Warren recalled. “I said, ‘Coach, I’m going to be crying one way or another.’ And he said, ‘London, you earned (those tears).’ "

Warren did weep when he learned along with his teammates and about 2,000 fans that the Flyers (26-7) had landed in the NCAA tournament for the first time in five years. Eleventh-seeded UD will play sixth-seeded West Virginia (23-11) in the Metrodome in Minneapolis on Friday at about 3 p.m.

Warren sat motionless after seeing “Dayton” in the bracket, trying to compose himself.

“My dream growing up as a kid was to be in March Madness,” Warren said. “And to have our name called, my dream came true.”

Credit: Mike Hartsock / Twitter: @MikeHartsock

Credit: Mike Hartsock / Twitter: @MikeHartsock

March 16, 2014

Storyline: Dayton overcame a January slump to earn a play its way back into at-large consideration but was still on the bubble when the team gathered to watch the selection show. UD was hoping for its first NCAA tournament berth in five years and first of the Miller era.

Headline: Elation and relief are linked with the early announcement.

What David Jablonski wrote: Flyer fans waited five years to get back to the big dance.

The players themselves had wait about 49 hours after their heartbreaking loss in Brooklyn to find out if their March Madness dreams would come true. Once the NCAA tournament selection show on CBS started, though, the wait was mercifully short.

The Flyers, watching at coach Archie Miller’s house in Kettering, saw the name Ohio State pop up on the screen in the early minutes of the show Sunday. Seconds later, Dayton shed its bubble status for good.

A video camera showed the players watching the TV, and you can hear Greg Gumbel, of CBS, say, “The Buckeyes will meet No. 11 seed ....”

The Flyers’ reaction drowned out the rest of Gumbel’s sentence.

They screamed and shouted and jumped around like kids on Christmas Day — much as they did when Jordan Sibert hit the game-winner against IPFW, or when Devin Oliver hit the banker at Ole Miss, two shots that helped get them to this stage. Of course, when it comes to college basketball, Selection Sunday might as well be a national holiday.

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