Flyers have their swagger back

Flyers have their swagger back

Published Jan. 10, 2012 4:57 p.m. ET

Having won its last four games, including an overtime decision against Saint Louis and a road victory at Temple, Dayton is playing with a lot of confidence.

That attribute should come in handy with a trip to St. Bonaventure to be followed by home games against La Salle and Temple.

"I thought we were sluggish in the month of December," coach Archie Miller said. "I thought team started to lose the excitement that we had in November a little bit.

"We had a couple of really, in my opinion, tough teams -- Ole Miss at home, Seton Hall at home was terrific.

"We've played really good competition, so we've known we had to be good. As we entered the Saint Louis game, there was an excitement again to start conference play, which was nice to see."

With the 79-72 win over the Billikens followed by the 87-77 win over a Temple team that was coming off a win over Duke, Dayton was one of only three A-10 teams that won their first two conference games.

The win over the Owls could be setting up the Flyers for a mental letdown, but Miller isn't concerned about that.

"We've been through it before this year where we've had good wins and come back," he said. "We're going to do our best right now to forget about Temple and Saint Louis, which in my opinion shouldn't be very hard to do when you watch St. Bonaventure on film.

"Our team understands right now that they've been in this position in the past, our seniors, where they've won two conference games in a row and then they drop one. Our deal is just to be consistent in the way we approach things as very, very tight.

"We're dealing with it on day-by-day process. We don't have a lot of room for error."


--One player who has seemed to thrive in the coaching change at Dayton has been F/C Matt Kavanaugh. The 6-foot-9 junior averaged less than eight minutes a game in 46 appearance his first two years but had started all 16 games for the Flyers this season through Jan. 8.

He was averaging over 23 minutes a game, producing 7.6 points and 5.8 rebounds while shooting 54.2 percent from the floor. He averaged only 1.6 points and 2.3 rebounds last season, shooting 45.1 percent.

"He's a physical kid," said coach Archie Miller, who took over for Brian Gregory when Gregory moved on to Georgia Tech. "He's got an amazing ability to practice hard every day, and what he does in practice, he typically does in the game.

"He's not going to be a great scorer for us all the time, but he has a unique skill with the offensive rebounds. He's got a great motor, he's physical.

"If we can keep him on the floor for longer stretches, I do think he gives us another guy around the basket who can put stick-backs in or finish baseline finishes off penetration."

--Senior G Josh Parker gave the Flyers a big lift off the bench with 16 points, matching junior G Kevin Dillard for team scoring honors in the 87-77 win at Temple.

Parker was 4-for-7 from the field, including 3-for-5 from 3-point territory. Dillard was 4-for-10 and 2-for-4, respectively.

--Dayton was an outstanding 19-for-21 from the free-throw line against Temple, which was 8-for-12. That made the Flyers 52-for-60 over three games since going only 16-for-26 against Illinois-Chicago.

The Flyers were shooting 75.5 percent from the stripe through Jan. 8, a big step up from their 67.7 performance last season.

BY THE NUMBERS: 10 -- Dayton hit 10 3-pointers in 21 attempts in the win over Temple. That's about three more makes than the Flyers were averaging from behind the arc going into the game.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We obviously have a challenge. Anytime you're on the road, and particularly in our conference right now, I think winning on the road is going to be very difficult." -- Coach Archie Miller, looking ahead to the Jan. 11 game at St. Bonaventure.



--at St. Bonaventure, Jan. 11

KEY MATCHUPS: The Flyers are on the road for a second straight game against a St. Bonaventure team looking to make a big move up in the standings this season. The Bonnies' big guy is still senior F Andrew Nicholson, but junior F Demetrius Conger has stepped up his game as well.

--vs. La Salle, Jan. 14

KEY MATCHUPS: La Salle got conference play off to a surprising start by knocking off favored Xavier in its opener. Senior G Earl Pettis had a big night against the Musketeers (23 points) and was leading the Explorers in scoring (14.2 ppg through Jan. 8), but freshman Jerrell Wright has given them solid play recently as well.

FUTURES MARKET: With F Josh Benson out and Luke Fabrizius taking his spot in the starting lineup, coach Archie Miller may be searching for scoring off the bench up front. Though Fabrizius had been in double figures in both starts through Jan. 8, F Devin Oliver had scored only five points and had seven rebounds off the bench in the two games Benson had missed.


--Senior F Luke Fabrizius, who made his first career start against Saint Louis, broke his nose late in the win over Temple after taking a whack in the face from teammate Josh Parker. Fabrizius had 13 points and five rebounds in the win over the Owls after scoring 11 in his starting debut the previous game. He missed three games earlier with a rib injury. He was expected to be ready for the game at St. Bonaventure.

--Senior F Chris Johnson posted his second consecutive double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds against the Owls. He had 11 points and 10 boards in the win over Saint Louis to open league play. Through Jan. 8, he had 12 double-doubles in his career.