Archie Miller is running out of “we’s.”
Seven scholarship Flyers suited up for Saturday’s second go-around with St. Bonaventure University, but only six walked away unscathed.
After nine minutes on the floor, sophomore forward Kendall Pollard exited the game after knocking over a Bonnies player during a drive towards the basket. Holding his head, Pollard walked off the floor toward the tunnel. Pollard returned to the court, but was kept out of the game.
Resilient Dayton never faltered, taking down the Bonnies 75-61. Redshirt senior guard Jordan Sibert, junior forward Dyshawn Pierre and sophomore guard Kyle Davis did not come out of the game after Pollard’s injury.
“I give those guys a lot of credit,” Miller said. “Those three guys in particular did not come out of the basketball game. That really wasn’t an option.”
Sibert turned in one of the best performances of his career, scoring a career-high 24 points and snagging a career-high seven steals. Dayton’s proud coach expressed his appreciation for the Ohio State transfer.
“He’s really mature. I’m happy for him,” Miller said. “I want him to finish [his career] on a high note. He’s absolutely delivered for our team not just his two years here, but this year. When things started to not look right, he’s been the one main steady guy every game out there. He’s a first team [All-Atlantic 10] type of a guy.”
Inside the paint, Pierre nabbed his fourth double-double of the season. With 15 points and 13 boards in 39 minutes of play, Pierre’s performance stemmed from the injury situation.
“We played pretty tough,” Pierre said. “When Kendall went out obviously the team had to step up from then on. We’re all proud of each other right now.”
The idea of “we” never changed for Pierre, Sibert and company. After all, it’s nothing new. Miller, though consistently focused on “the day,” deeply reflected on the situation.
“It probably hasn’t sunk in too much, it will sink in more toward the end of the year,” Miller said. “But very, very few people have been dealt the cards that these kids have been dealt. Six scholarship players on one team – three are sophomores, one is a first-year … there’s a lot of teams out there who are down to eight scholarship players and it woes me. I would like to have eight. I’d like to get two more.”
Miller attributes the success of the team to the attitude, and to the idea of “we,” sung with the team’s mantra of True Team.
“I really believe that you’re watching a group of guys get the most out of each other,” Miller said. “They play for one another. I think you can tell that in the way that they play, the way that they share it and the way that they trust one another.”
During Saturday’s first half, the Flyers did share the ball. All of Dayton’s first 12 baskets were assisted. Sophomore point guard Scoochie Smith dished out five assists, while pouring in 10 points shooting 50 percent from the field.
Defensively, Davis continued his bid for Atlantic 10 Conference Defensive Player-of-the-Year. The sophomore was selected to guard Bonnies guard Marcus Posley. Posley, who made ESPN Sportscenter’s Top 10 Plays twice last week, on last-second buzzer-beaters, was held scoreless from behind the arc. During the second half, Davis switched to Bonnies guard Iakeem Alston. Alston had nine points in the first half, but was limited to just two points when facing Davis in the second half.
Together, Dayton’s defense held St. Bonaventure scoreless from 3-point range in the game. The Bonnies zero of 11 clip was just the second time all season held without the deep jumper.
The Flyers hold a tie for first place in the A-10 with an overall record of 19-5 and a conference record of 8-3.
As Dayton moves forward to its next target, St. Joseph’s at home Thursday, the question of Pollard’s role in the lineup does not phase Miller.
“When he plays, he plays,” Miller said. “If he doesn’t play, we play, so it doesn’t really matter.”
Possibly down to six scholarship players against the Hawks, the battle cry of “we” continues.