Dayton Men’s Basketball Continues Legendary Season

Obi Toppin (cover photo) has garnered national attention. Taken by Griffin Quinn 

Atticus Hughes
Sports Staff Writer

Welcome back to campus UD students! Unless you spent winter break stranded on a distant island in the Pacific Ocean, then you’re well aware of the tear our men’s basketball team has been on while class was out of session. 

As of right now our Flyers are ranked No. 7 in the country becoming the highest ranked team this campus has had the privilege of watching since 1967. If you didn’t follow the team’s every move over break, here’s a breakdown of how we got to this historic position.

Our beloved Flyers were thrust onto the national stage long before UD’s campus closed for winter break, putting the national media on watch with an outstanding performance in the annual Maui Invitational.

Dayton lost the tournament’s final in heartbreaking fashion to the now third ranked Kansas Jayhawks. After a performance on such a stage you would think the hype would be difficult to maintain, this team thought otherwise. 

The Flyers entered our holiday hiatus as the 13th ranked team in the country, sporting a 8-1 record. The break took similar form to the start of the season. The Flyers made quick work of the remainder of their non-conference opponents with convincing wins over North Texas and Grambling State leading up to their marquee matchup with previously ranked Colorado. 

The Flyers hit the road to the Chicago Legends tournament where they faced a formidable Colorado team. Despite an early 14-point lead, the game ended in heartbreaking fashion on a game winning shot in overtime in favor of the Buffaloes.

Despite having lost, the Flyers remained a staple in the majority of top 25 ballots, falling only five spots to number 18. Playing inspired basketball after their loss the Flyers steamrolled their final two non-conference opponents en route to the long-awaited A10 opener. The Flyers opened up A10 play as the 20th ranked team in the nation.

As we all know from the Flyers current first place positioning in the A10, those two games over break went as all Flyer Faithful had planned, two double-digit road wins. These double-digit road wins were different, however. Dayton headed to Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, for contests versus the La Salle Explorers and the St. Joseph Hawks.

The Flyers had not won a road game at La Salle in seven years, and in 19 years at St. Joe’s. Both streaks were shattered over break as Dayton cruised home with an undefeated conference record. 

The final game over break brings us to where we stand now, an absolutely dominant performance over a young UMass team. This final contest over break was never in question as the Flyers flew to a 28-point win at home.

Oh and if you didn’t pay attention during our first week back, the Flyers may have had a game or two worth watching, as they routed a tough VCU team and junior guard Jalen Crutcher broke the hearts of Saint Louis fans all over the country en route to our No. 7 national ranking. (Did I mention it’s our highest since 1967?)

Aside from what the team as a whole has accomplished while we were away on break, redshirt sophomore forward Obi Toppin has accumulated some well deserved praise as well. While students received emails about upcoming class schedules and waitlist notifications, Obi Toppin recived mid-season Player of the Year honors from many of the major sports outlets across the country. 

Toppin, who is now averaging 19.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, is one of the favorites to win the coveted Naismith college basketball Player of the Year Award. No Dayton Flyer has ever achieved this feat. 

Looking ahead the Flyers have only nine games left on the slate before we put this spectacular regular season behind us, so make sure to pack UD Arena whenever given the chance, and give our Flyers the home court advantage they deserve.

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