No matter the reasoning for making the Atlantic 10 conference tournament, members of the University of Dayton men’s basketball team are just excited about being able to make the trip to Brooklyn.
“What happened in the regular season doesn’t matter anymore,” redshirt senior guard Kevin Dillard said. “At this point, that’s out of our minds and we’re just ready to go down there and have the best tournament we can.”
Despite a loss in its regular season finale, Dayton secured the 12-seed in the tournament and will face the No. 5-seed Butler University at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 14, at the Barclays Center.
“Everybody’s main focus is coming to work today, getting ready for a Butler team that we saw once and it was a close game,” Dillard said. “We just have to come together and fix what we did wrong in the first game, try and correct it and go down there and get a win.”
Dayton made the tournament after St. Bonaventure University lost its finale against Fordham University. Along with George Washington University, UD finished second in the three-way tiebreaker for 11th place at 7-9, with GW winning and becoming the 11-seed, and SBU becoming the first team out of the field.
“Our guys understand that there’s a certain way we have to play to be successful,” head coach Archie Miller said. “Six games ago, we were pretty much knocked on our backs. We’ve had a pretty good finish. I know the result the other day was a heart breaker, but we’re playing good basketball on the offensive end, maybe not so much on the defensive end.”
Butler and Dayton met earlier this season at UD Arena on Jan. 12, in a game where Butler led by as many as 14 points on its way to a 79-73 victory.
Dayton in that contest got as close as five points on six different occasions in the final 6:20 of the game, but was never able to pull closer.
“Our first game was so long ago, it’s almost like you’re watching a game from the beginning of January and you think, ‘gosh, we really looked like that.’ We have really improved, we have a lot of different guys making contributions and we’re going to have to play the game a different way to be successful.
“[Butler] have improved too. They’re one of the best teams in the country and really do a nice job picking some mismatches. From a defensive perspective, we’re really going to have to be locked on.”
The winner between Butler and Dayton will face No. 4-seed La Salle University at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, March 15.
Regular season champion Saint Louis University is the tournament’s No. 1 seed, followed by Virginia Commonwealth University as the No. 2 team, and Temple University at No. 3.
In other first round games, Richmond University and UNC Charlotte play at noon, Xavier University and St. Joseph’s University play at 6:30 p.m., and the University of Massachusetts and George Washington University round out the opening night at 9 p.m.
The semifinals are slated to take place at 1:30 and 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 16, with the championship game of the tournament being conducted at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 17.
The 2013 edition of the A-10 tournament will be the first to be played at the new Barclays Center after six years of holding the tournament in Atlantic City, N.J.
“There’s a lot of hype around this first tournament,” Miller said. “I would be surprised if we didn’t have the majority of fans in the arena when we play Butler … It’s one of the perks of playing at the University of Dayton.”
Despite heading to a new location, Dillard said things don’t change as far as expectations go.
“It’s a cool site to play at, but I’m not going to be too hyped about the site, I just want to get the win,” he said. “We can play [at UD Arena] for all I care, I just want the win.”