High Flyers: Dayton Builds On Recent Success

Posted by Shane McNichol on February 18th, 2016

When Archie Miller signed a contract extension at Dayton in May 2015, ensuring that he would remain at the school for at least another season rather than jumping to a power conference program, he praised the university for its commitment to him. “It’s very humbling. It’s a privilege to coach at a place like this,” Miller told the Dayton Daily News. “There’s not a day that’s gone by that we haven’t had everything we need to be successful,” he added. Nearly a year on, this has continued to be the case. The 2015-16 season marks Miller’s fifth with the Flyers, having recorded winning records in the previous four and including multiple NCAA Tournament wins capped by a run to the Elite Eight two seasons ago. With Miller back on the sideline and four starters returning, Dayton looks to build upon its recent achievements.

Dyshawn Pierre and Dayton (USA Today Images)

Dyshawn Pierre and Dayton Look to Make Noise in March Again (USA Today Images)

Despite a road loss last night at St. Joseph’s, this year’s Flyers appear to be more ready for the postseason than any of their predecessors. Dayton’s current ranking of #15 in the AP Poll is its highest in the last three seasons, and the team is currently projected as a much higher seed than it was during each of their past two NCAA Tournament appearances (#11). In the most recent bracketology projections from ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and CBSSports’ Jerry Palm, Miller’s team was slotted as a #4 seed, carrying with it both the burden of expectation but also geographic preference.

dayton 3 seasons

(Note: KenPom numbers for previous season reflect end of regular season)

At first blush, the above numbers could make you wary of this year’s Flyers. Both of the previous two teams were underseeded at #11 and outplayed the seed they were assigned. This year’s Dayton squad only has four losses, three of which came to top 100 opponents (the fourth being a road loss to La Salle). Due to a suspension following an alleged sexual assault, Dayton began the season without Dyshawn Pierre, its second-leading scorer and leading rebounder. More recently, the Flyers have been without the 11.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game of Kendall Pollard, who has missed separate runs of games with injuries to his Achilles and knee. The absence of both players as they’ve shuffled in and out of the lineup has been noticeable. Dayton has yet to lose any of the eight games in Atlantic 10 play with both players on the floor.

dayton with without

The Flyers’ strength of schedule this season has been worse than either of the previous two years, but that number is partially misleading. Dayton’s regular season schedule has five games remaining, four of which will come against top 100 competition, including the A-10’s highest KenPom ranked team, VCU.

With Pollard considered day-to-day and Pierre yet to miss a game since returning from his prior suspension, Miller hopes to finish the regular season healthy and enter postseason play with his full complement of players. The bar has been set very high after the last two seasons, so a team that looks like the best in the Miller era may have its eyes on a more ambitious prize. A run that ends in the Final Four in Houston in early April will likely begin with locking up Dayton’s first regular season or conference championship since 2004. This team has that ability.

Shane McNichol (30 Posts)

Shane McNichol is a national columnist for Rush The Court. He is also the founder, editor, and writer at PalestraBack.com and has contributed to SALTMoney.org and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain.

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