University of Dayton students have made “Dayton to Daytona” an annual spring-break tradition. The new Dayton Flyers men’s basketball coaching staff, dominated by coaches from the Sunshine State, has turned it around, putting the beaches behind them to work on the banks of the Great Miami River.
Head coach Anthony Grant is a Miami native, as is Darren Hertz, the assistant to the head coach. Their high schools, Miami Senior and Miami Killian, are located 15 miles apart. Assistant coach James Kane is from Oakland Park, Fla., 33 miles north of Miami.
Associate head coach Anthony Solomon, a Virginia native, and assistant coach Ricardo Greer are the only members of the staff without Florida connections.
UD announced Grant’s staff Wednesday. Here are seven interesting facts about the group:
1. Promise kept: Greer’s mother, Josephine, died of a heart attack when he was 13. His sister, Jessenia, raised him in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City.
In 1996, when he was 19, Greer told the New York Daily News of making a promise at his mother’s funeral.
“I promised her that I’d become something and reach the top,” Greer said. “I’m accomplishing my dream and it ain’t over yet. It’s just starting. And I’ve done it for my mother.”
2. Return visit: Solomon was the head coach at St. Bonaventure from 2003-07. Those weren’t easy years for the program. He arrived at the school after a recruiting scandal that saw the head coach, Jan van Breda Kolff, as well as the athletic director and university president fired.
Solomon was 24-88 in four seasons and lost his job after a 7-22 finish in 2006-07. He then found a job at Dayton on Brian Gregory’s staff. That meant a return trip to Olean, N.Y., in the 2007-08 season for Solomon.
The Flyers won 78-73. It was Senior Night for players Solomon recruited to St. Bonaventure.
“I look at some of the players he recruited at St. Bonaventure, and they’re high-quality players,” Gregory told the Dayton Daily News at the time. “Four years wasn’t enough considering where that program was and what it had just been through and playing in this league.”
3. First meeting: Kane met Grant for the first time when Grant was an assistant coach with the Florida Gators and Kane was a student, according to an ESPN story in 2012. Kane helped the men’s and women’s teams as a video coordinator.
Kane and some friends won an intramural basketball championship and then got to play Florida head coach Billy Donovan, Grant and another assistant coach, Major Parker, in a game of three-on-three. Kane’s team won.
4. Family business: Hertz is the son of a coach, but one from a different sport. Steve Hertz retired in 2010 after 26 years as the head baseball coach at Miami Dade College.
Steve was born at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in 1945 but grew up in Miami, Fla. He made it to the big leagues in 1964 with the Houston Colt .45s and played in five games.
5. Pro career: Greer played professional basketball in Europe for 15 seasons and spent 13 of those seasons in France. He was MVP of the LNB Pro-A division in 2010. He earned the nickname, “the Buffalo of Punta Cana,” during his years in France. He retired after the 2015 season.
Greer was born in New York City, but both his parents were born in the Dominican Republic. He played for the Dominican national team from 1999-2009.
6. Longtime nickname: Solomon is a native of Newport News, Va., and was a four-year letterwinner at the University of Virginia. He saw limited action during his career, scoring a total of 48 points, but was a member of Virginia’s 1984 Final Four team.
Solomon earned his nickname, “Slo,” when he was a kid, he told the Daily Press newspaper in 1996. He played little league baseball, and a coach thought his fastball was going in slow motion. Slow became “Slo,” and it stuck.
7. Heartfelt goodbye: Kane worked under Grant at Virginia Commonwealth and Alabama. He spent the last six seasons at Murray State and posted a goodbye message to the school and its fans on Twitter on Wednesday.
“It was a very tough decision to move from a place I love and call home,” Kane wrote. “One of the few opportunities I would consider leaving for recently presented itself: to coach under my mentor. I can’t express enough gratitude to Racer Nation for everything it has done for me. The Racer family will always have a special place in my heart.”