UD picked 5th in Atlantic 10 preseason poll
WASHINGTON, D.C. – After graduating the winningest senior class in school history, the two-time regular-season champion University of Dayton Flyers have been selected to finish fifth as in the Atlantic 10 this season, according to a poll of the conference's head men's basketball coaches and selected media. The news was released during the A-10's Men's Basketball Media Day.
The Flyers received 266 voting points. Rhode Island had 390 votes, and 27 of 28 first-place votes. St. Bonaventure had 345 votes (and the lone remaining first-place vote). Saint Joseph's was third (300 votes) and VCU was fourth (299). Davidson was after Dayton with 245 votes.
Saint Louis, Richmond, La Salle, George Mason, George Washington, Massachusetts, Fordham and Duquesne rounded out the preseason predictions.
New Dayton coach Anthony Grant takes over a program that is talented and tall, but also young. Seven of the 10 scholarship players available to Grant this season are 6-foot-5 or taller. Five of the 10 are playing their first season on college basketball.
Two-year captain Josh Cunningham, a 6-foot-7 forward, is the unquestioned leader on the team. Cunningham was impressive in the first two games of the season last year until suffering a horrible ankle injury at the end of the Alabama win. As bad as it looked, he "only" had a torn ligament in his ankle and returned for the final nine games of the year, but was a shell of his pre-injury self due to a lack of conditioning. Before the injury, he scored 25 points in 34 minutes of play while making 10 of 12 shots from the floor and all five of his free throws.
Guard Darrell Davis is the only senior on the team. A veteran of 99 games in his career, the 6-foot-5 guard averaged 5.5 points a game in 2016-17, while shooting .385 (40-104) from three-point range and .727 (32-44) from the line.
Junior Xeyrius Williams is the leading returning scorer (8.2 points a game) and rebounder (4.8) from a year ago. He won the Chris Daniels Award as UD's Most Improved Player last year. He would have won the award whether it was based on improvement from one year to the next or from the beginning of the year to the end of the year after stepping up in Cunningham's absence.
Dayton's first public competition will be an exhibition game with Ohio Dominican on Saturday, Nov. 4 at 7:00 p.m. ET at UD Arena. The Flyers open the season six days later at home against Ball State.