It’s always amusing to hear Dayton touted as some great college basketball town.
If we’re interested in the truth, it’s really just a University of Dayton basketball town, all others be damned.
Were the region deserving of its overblown reputation, UD would be playing crosstown rival Wright State — if not annually, then at least somewhat regularly.
Were the region deserving of its overblown reputation, the community would demand it.
But the area’s Division I universities have not clashed in men’s basketball since Dec. 13, 1997, and this shows no sign of changing as UD continues to oppose the revival of what was once known as the Gem City Jam.
Imagine you just moved here from North Carolina, or even Cincinnati. Or you’re here for the First Four this week from some other basketball mecca.
Chances are you simply assume the Flyers play the Raiders. Because the schools are 10 miles apart and that’s usually what happens when schools on similar competitive planes are that close together. Cincinnati plays Xavier in the Crosstown Shootout, for example. Duke plays ACC rival North Carolina. The various Philadelphia schools don’t make a habit of ignoring each other.
Granted, the gap between the Atlantic 10 Conference (Dayton) and the Horizon League (Wright State) has widened over the years with the A-10 moving up and the HL stagnating a bit. But the gap between UD and WSU is not that significant from year to year and most people realize it.
No matter what reasons UD has given, I suspect its reluctance to renew the Gem City Jam is mainly about not wanting to risk elevating Wright State to a level of prominence in town that otherwise seems unattainable.
It makes Dayton look scared of losing to its crosstown rival.
Sad, actually, because the greater basketball community only suffers in the long run.
Let’s make Dayton a truly great basketball town by breathing life into this dormant rivalry.