#39 Dayton: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #39
Conference Rank: #4 Atlantic 10 Conference
2009-10: 25-12, 8-8
2009-10 postseason: NIT
Coach: Brian Gregory (150-80 at Dayton, 150-80 overall)
Dayton finished conference play with an 8-8 record. That is not what most expected. However, while the Flyers did not reach the NCAA Tournament, they did knock off North Carolina to bring home the NIT title. With a lot of talent gone, Coach Bring Gregory has some work to do, but like usual there is more talent on Dayton’s roster than it initially appears.
Key Losses: C Kurt Huelsman, G Marcus Johnson, G Rob Lowery, G Mickey Perry, G London Warren
The newcomers will play a big role on this team, but that should not be much of an issue since Coach Gregory has brought in another superb class. However, it is a transfer, Josh Parker, who provides the team with some much needed depth on the perimeter. Parker, who spent two years at Drake, is a superb outside shooter and will add another long range threat to a team that already has quite a few. Shooting guard Brandon Spearman and small forwards Devin Oliver and Ralph Hill will need to be ready to provide at least a few minutes off the bench. The most important newcomer is also the best of the bunch. Point guard Juwan Staten is a true point guard who can do a little bit of scoring when necessary. Yet, as long as he can lead this team as a freshman and keep the turnovers down, he will be doing all that should be asked of him during his first season in Dayton.
The backcourt does not return much talent. Marcus Johnson, Rob Lowery, Mickey Perry and London Warren are all gone. That leaves Paul Williams as the most experienced guard in the program. Williams started ten games last year and proved to be a capable outside shooter. If the 6-4, 212 pound junior can use his size to attack the basket more often he can drastically improve on his 5.6 points per game he averaged a year ago. Even if he continues to spend most of his time beyond the arc, Williams should be in for a solid campaign. Williams will certainly need some help from the newcomers to keep the backcourt moving, but with Parker and Staten available, that should not be an issue.
The strength of Dayton was in the frontcourt last season and will be again this time around. Small forward Chris Johnson is a dynamic scorer who connected on 34.9 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc and ended the 2009-2010 campaign averaging 11.9 points and 6.9 rebounds. The other superstar of the frontcourt is Chris Wright. Wright has been a star since he stepped foot on Dayton’s campus and he may be saving his best season for last. After leading the team with 13.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per contest last season, the Flyers will rely even more on their high flying athletic forward. Devin Searcy is the likely candidate to replace Kurt Huelsman as the force in the paint. Huelsman never put up big numbers, but he was a great glue guy who created space for the scorers. Searcy is a better interior scorer, but it remains to be seen if he can handle all of the intangibles that Huelsman provided.
Who to Watch:
The depth up front could turn into an issue, especially if Searcy is not ready to take over the starting job. Luke Fabrizius is a big body, but he spends all of his time hanging out on the perimeter. He is a good shooter who can come in and knock down some long balls over shorter defenders, but he cannot play the center position. That leaves sophomore Josh Benson to pick up the slack at the five spot. He only averaged 8.1 minutes per game during his freshman campaign, but he did show some signs of improvement. The same can be said for Matt Kavanaugh, who at 6-9 and 250 pounds, is probably the most physical player on the squad.
There are holes to be filled and rotation issues to be worked out, but with Johnson and Wright leading the way, there is little chance that the Flyers will not improve on their disappointing 8-8 conference record. Thanks to the nice group of newcomers and the likely emergence of sophomores like Benson, this team should do what they failed to do last season. The only difference will be the target will not be on their back this time around and Dayton will have the luxury of flying under the radar while everybody worries about Xavier and Temple.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Juwan Staten, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Paul Williams, Junior, Guard, 5.6 ppg
Chris Johnson, Junior, Forward, 11.9 ppg
Chris Wright, Senior, Forward, 13.7 ppg
Devin Searcy, Senior, Center, 3.9 ppg
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