Few moms in Ohio have more to look forward this fall and winter than Tracy Matthews, whose sons enter their final seasons with two of the most popular college programs in the state: Dayton Flyers men’s basketball and Ohio State Buckeyes football.
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“I know she loves it,” said Trey Landers, a senior guard at Dayton. “Just keeping her young, keeping her moving around, I know she enjoys every minute of it, even though it’s stressful for her at times.”
Trey is a year younger than his brother Robert Landers, a defensive tackle for Ohio State, but their college careers will end in the same academic year because Robert redshirted as a freshman.
“It went by really fast,” Trey said. “It’s crazy. I was just a freshman just getting packed into Marycrest (dorm). It’s here now.”
Dayton started recruiting Landers when he was a sophomore and offered him a scholarship on Oct. 13, 2014. Then head coach Archie Miller sat him down at UD Arena, told him what he liked about his game and made the offer.
Kevin Kuwik was the assistant coach in charge of recruiting him. On his official visit, Landers went out to eat with Scoochie Smith, Kyle Davis, Steve McElvene and Charles Cooke.
Landers then committed to Dayton during his junior year on March 2, 2015, one day before Senior Night at UD Arena. Robert helped Trey through the recruiting process.
“He emphasized to me: go to the team that’s loyal to you,” Trey said. “Don’t just go to a team for the name. Dayton was loyal; to me. They would come and check on me. That stood out to me. I knew they wanted me here.”
Robert’s decision to attend Ohio State is one reason Trey decided to stay close to home with Dayton. Both brothers attended Wayne High School as did the youngest brother, Tallice, who graduated this year.
“It was very important to me,” Trey said, “my mom being a single parent.”
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Tracy has been able to see both her sons develop into key players. Robert has played in 39 games the last three seasons and started 11 games last season.
Trey did not redshirt as a freshman on a senior-dominated team in 2016-17, but it wasn’t much different. He appeared in nine games and played a total of 52 minutes. The last two seasons, he has started 50 games. He averaged 11.3 points per game as a sophomore and 8.2 as a junior. He has 619 points in three seasons.
Obi Toppin took Landers’ starting job in early February last season. Still, Landers played an important role down the stretch even as he battled shoulder pain. Entering his final season, Landers’ only goals are team goals.
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“We want to win the A-10 championship and advance in the tournament,” he said Tuesday during an interview at the Cronin Center. “Nothing less than bringing home a championship (will suffice), and I feel we’ve got the pieces to do that. We just need to be much more mentally focused and locked in. Last year, we were probably two or three games out of the NCAA tournament. If you watch some of our games — like Mississippi State, Virginia, Oklahoma, Rhode Island at home — all those games were lost in the last four minutes. If we just lock in mentally in those games and fix the things we need to fix, there’s no telling where we can be.”
To work on mental focus, coach Anthony Grant has asked the team to read the book “Chop Wood, Carry Water: How to Fall in Love with the Process of Becoming Great.” The players read a few chapters and then discuss them in meetings.
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A sport performance psychologist, Dr. Chris Carr, who works with the Indiana Pacers and athletes at Ball State and Butler, also talked to the team this summer.
Practices began in mid-June when the entire 11-man team gathered for the first time and will continue through the end of the second summer session of classes.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who have really bought into what’s going on,” Landers said. “Everyone’s always competing. Every day in practice is a day to get better. We all have that competitive spirit. I would say everybody knows (no one’s position) is solid. You have to compete. If you want it, you’ve got to go get it.”
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