No. 24 Dayton prepares to win the NCAA Championship


Suspension

Anthony Grant has been building momentum at Dayton for the past five seasons, taking the Flyers to the cusp of the NCAA Championship last year despite having one of the youngest teams in the country.

A breakthrough could happen this year.

With just about everyone returning from last season’s squad, including one of the Atlantic’s top 10 players, the 24th Dayton has his sights set on the program’s first NCAA Championship appearance in six years.

“Our team will depend, to have the kind of success we believe we are capable of, on our ability to grow in terms of our confidence, not only individually but in each other and the leadership we can develop from where we can develop,” Grant said:

The Flyers’ rise appears to mark the first NCAA championship since Archie Miller’s final season in 2016-2017.

Dayton brings back all five starters from a team that won 24 games last season, including victories over Kansas and Miami, won by the Elite Eight.

The Young Flyers had some growing pains amid last season’s successes – three straight losses to Massachusetts Lowell, Lipscombe and Austin B – but experience will help propel them forward this year.

Da Ron Holmes, the A-10 Rookie of the Year in 2021-22, is back with his previous move at Georgia Toumani Kamara to give Dayton what should be one of the best front fields in the country.

Point guard Malachi Smith is back after a steady freshman season and will team up with Kobe Elvis in the backcourt. Striker RJ Blakney also returns to the starting line-up, with Kobe Brea and Mustapha Amzil returning to give Dayton depth from the bench.

Major sportsman Tyrone Becker must make an impact after moving from Georgia and freshman Mike Sharafjams, the first Mongolian national to receive a Division I scholarship, must give pilots length and shoot well over the ocean.

Holmes reached Dayton as the highest-ranking recruit in the program’s history and lived up to billing in his new season.

The 6-foot-10 forward from Goodyear, Arizona, made an impact on both ends of the ground, leading the Flyers in scoring with 12.8 points per game while averaging 6.1 rebounds. Holmes finished second nationally in shooting with 64.9% from the ground and broke the record for blocked shots for a season at Dayton with 81.

“He’s a guy who’s kind of had to cement our defense as an edge protector,” Grant said, “I really thought he grew in terms of his confidence and understanding of the role.” “And he continues to do it now as a sophomore, a young man trying to figure it out.”

One of the reasons Dayton’s success with such a young team last season was their ability to defend.

The Flyers ranked 39th in adjusted defense, according to KenPom.com, and was 15th nationally in defensive goal scoring, carrying teams to 61.2 points per game.

A year of experience in the Grant system should make Dayton better defensively this year.

Dayton has two bright areas you need to support this season: turnovers and free throws.

The Flyers coughed the ball 12.4 times in every game last season to finish 154th in the Division I – no surprise for such a young team. Years of experience should help in this area.

Dayton also ranked 284th in the free throw percentage, scoring 68.2% of the streak.

Dayton will have some tough early tests before entering the A-10 schedule.

The Flyers’ second game of the season will be against SMU, who won 24 games last season, and a trip to Las Vegas to play UNLV comes four days later. Dayton also opened Battle 4 Atlantis against Wisconsin with potential matches against No. 5 Kansas, No. 11 Tennessee, Southern California, North Carolina and Butler.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball, https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll, https://twitter. com/AP_Top25


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