Three days before the start of The Basketball Tournament, the Dayton Flyers alumni team, the Red Scare, shared some bad news on Twitter. Dyshawn Pierre and Josh Cunningham, two members of the eight-man team, won’t play in the $2 million winner-takes-all tournament.
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Anyone who has followed UD basketball in recent years couldn’t have been surprised by the development. The Red Scare Twitter account, run by the founders of the team, former Dayton walk-ons Jeremiah Bonsu and Joey Gruden, acknowledged that while breaking the news.
“Our expectations have not changed,” the Red Scare posted to Twitter, “and we are still excited to show what we’re all about. It wouldn’t be a Dayton basketball team if there wasn’t some unexpected drama. Let’s make sure it’s LOWD on Friday.”
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Dayton added Marion Local High school graduate Ryan Bruns, a 6-foot-8 center and Division III All-American at Ohio Northern, to the roster, so it will have seven players, and that’s meaningful number for three members of the team. Kyle Davis, Kendall Pollard and Darrell Davis all played for the seven-man team that won 27 games and nearly reached the Sweet 16 in the 2015-16 season.
“As everybody knows, we’ve been in this predicament before — down players and everything — and we found a way to beat good teams and good players,” Kyle Davis said, “so we just have to do it again. With the experience we all have now, I think we can get it done.”
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Dayton plays a team named The Region, which includes players from northwest Indiana and the Chicago area, in the first round at 5 p.m. Friday at Capital University in Bexley. Here are four things to know about Dayton’s team and the tournament:
1. Pro experience: All six of the former Dayton Flyers on the roster have played overseas.
Devin Oliver and Vee Sanford, who were seniors during the Elite Eight season of 2013-14, will both play in France next season. Kyle Davis will return to Argentina for the second straight year.
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The experience makes them different players from when Dayton fans last saw them. Oliver improved his 3-point accuracy in each of his four seasons at Dayton, shooting 39.6 percent as a senior, but has taken it to another level in pro basketball. He said he topped 50 percent last season in Turkey and Germany.
“Just a lot of time in the gym,” Oliver said. “My confidence is different. I have a different demeanor about myself. I’m more comfortable and sure about my game.”
2. Home-court advantage: The Red Scare’s coach, former Flyer Damon Goodwin, will lead the team in the building he has called home since 1994 as head coach of the Capital Crusaders. Tickets cost $25. All the players expect a good turnout from Dayton fans.
Oliver will have a number of friends and family members from his hometown, Kalamazoo, Mich., in the stands, including his parents Kelvin and Amy and sister Miya.
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“I think that’s what I’m most excited about: to see all the Flyer fans in the building,” Oliver said. “I know they’re going to be there. You know how they travel. If there’s something Dayton related, they’re going to show up in full force. It’s going to give us some added motivation for sure and probably some extra energy even though we’re going to be a couple guys short.”
3. Path forward: If the No. 3 seed Red Scare beat No. 6 The Region, their second-round opponent at noon Saturday will be No. 2 Kohl Blooded, a team of Wisconsin alumni, or No. 7 Mid-American Unity, a team made up of former Mid-American Conference players.
The Ohio State team, Carmen’s Crew, is the No. 1 seed in the eight-team region. The Red Scare and Carmen’s Crew won’t meet unless they make the third round. The Columbus Regional final takes place at noon Sunday. Eight regional champions advance to the final three rounds Aug. 1-6 in Chicago.
Ohio State’s roster includes Aaron Craft, who defended Sanford on his go-ahead shot with 3.8 seconds left in the first round of the 2014 NCAA tournament and then missed a shot at the buzzer as Dayton won 60-59 in Buffalo, N.Y.
Sanford and Craft played against each other two seasons ago in France.
“There’s no bad blood,” Sanford said. “We keep it cordial. He’s a great guy.”
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Sanford earned his place in Dayton basketball history with that bank shot five years ago.
“People still bring it up, and I think it’s cool,” Sanford said. “That’s a special moment in my life and a special moment for the university.”
4. New rules: Anyone watching the game in person or on ESPN3 should be aware of the tournament’s special rules. The most notable is the “Elam Ending,” which aims to speed play in the final minutes of the games.
Here’s how it works, according to TheTournament.com: “At the first stoppage at or under 4:00 of the 4th quarter, the game clock stops and timed play ends. At this juncture, a target score shall be set, equal to the leading team’s score plus eight (8). After returning from the media timeout, play shall resume without a game clock but with the shot clock, until one team matches or exceeds the target score.”
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