These Flyers Really Fly!

Dayton is the birthplace of aviation — it is also the home of the Dayton Flyers. This season the University of Dayton men’s basketball team is giving new meaning to their nickname.

After today’s victory over St. Bonaventure, Coach Brian Gregory’s boys are sporting an 18-2 overall record, 4-1 in conference play and just a half game out of first place in the Atlantic 10 conference standings. They continue to get votes for the Top 25. But, soaring in the standings and flirting with the upper stratosphere of the Division I rankings is not the reason.

If you’ve seen these guys play, you know what I’m talking about. These guys really can fly! First, there’s London Warren who was tagged “The Jacksonville Jet” because of the way he flies down the court. Fellow point guard Rob Lowery, also with great speed, literally went horizontal today, soaring over the scorers’ table and the bench before landing almost in the laps of the first row of spectators. Next, there is senior Charles Little, who can jump out of the gym with his 41-inch vertical leap. Freshman guard Chris Johnson, Dayton’s number two rebounder, launched himself above the fray today to pull down eight rebounds.

I’m just getting warmed up. With a third of the regular season remaining, Dayton has already obliterated the school’s season dunk record and they added nine more today against the Bonnies, including five during a 2:37 span at the start of the second half. Junior Marcus Johnson started the show with his familiar one-handed jam on a breakaway that began with a Chris Wright block. Then it was time for the aerial acrobatics of Top Gun Chris Wright. Without the benefit of a flight plan Wright raced down the court looking for the ally-oop from London Warren.  With the ball on its way, Wright launched himself, grabbed the rock,  and finished the mission with a powerful jam, much to the delight of 13,408 fans. About a minute later, he repeated the same stunt in crowded airspace causing the UD Arena to erupt. The Dayton Air Show needs to book this guy.

“We talk all of the time at the house when you see me running just throw it up and I’ll get it there. The worse the oop is, the better it looks.” — Chris Wright,  Source: <www.DaytonFlyers.com>

It’s too early to make postseason predictions. But, here’s what I know so far. These guys are extremely athletic and entertaining. (A halftime show with the Bud Light Daredevils would be an anticlimax.) To a man, they play hard-nosed defense, getting steals, controlling the boards, diving for loose balls, and blocking shots. The result of their tenacity is consistently holding their opponents below their average. The Flyers have been winning games with defense!

“There was no doubt the first 30 minutes of the game, our intensity was really, really good. We did a good job of getting the loose balls early and we caused a lot of offense. I was pleased with our guys and the energy level they played with this afternoon.” — Brian Gregory,  Source: <www.DaytonFlyers.com>

The team is deep. Coach Gregory plays 11-12 guys every game and each one has shown he can contribute. The Flyers are taking care of business at home, finding ways to win on the road, and outlasting their opponents in the close games. In fact, winning the close ones is becoming their trademark. I’ll abstain from mentioning any liabilities and leave that for others on the discussion boards. I just love watching these guys play and that’s all I need to say.

Go Flyers!

— Clancy Cross

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