R.J. Blakney (No. 23, white jersey) challenges a shot during the Flyers’ 59-58 loss to UMass-Lowell on Saturday at UD Arena. Photo courtesy of Keegan Gupta, Flyer News.
Peter Burtnett | Sports Editor
Dayton Flyers men’s basketball head coach Anthony Grant said his young team will have to “get a lot better” as they go into a non-conference home game against Lipscomb after suffering a 59-58 home loss to UMass-Lowell as 18-point favorites.
“We have to learn how to play with each other a lot better. We have to learn our system a lot better. And at the same time, this early in the year, every opponent is going to present a different challenge to the way that we play offensively or defensively.”
Against the Bisons (3-1), the Flyers won’t have “carry over from one game to the next,” but will have to get off to a better start. In the Flyers’ first two games, they have scored just 48 first-half points and shot 17-52 (32.7 percent) from the field.
In four games, the Bisons have scored 50, 41, 49 and 38 points, respectively, in the first half.
“We’ve had two games here where we’ve had slow starts,” Grant said. “And so I think some of it is (that) guys gotta get used to playing with each other, guys got to get more familiar with what our system is all about and how they can take advantage of what’s available in our system. I think we’re missing a lot of stuff, and sometimes it’s just missing shots… that we’re more than capable of making, so we’ll find our rhythm. I think we’ve got enough good players, enough talent that our guys will figure it out.”
Sophomore guard/forward R.J. Blakney, 10.5 points and 6 rebounds in 28 minutes per game, addressed the team continuing to gel with so many new pieces.
“I think part of it is we don’t know how good we can be yet. But the great thing about it is that it’s a long season and we can definitely work towards being as great as we can every day so days like this coming off a loss, hopefully we don’t have to learn from coming off a loss, but we can just continue to work from success.”
Freshman guard Malachi Smith has also stepped up with 5 points in 17 minutes per game, but has performed even better on defense.
“He’s a dog,” Blakney said. “I love him. He always comes hard and ready to work and he wants to defend. He can pick up 94 feet.”
Grant went to Smith down the stretch against the River Hawks on Saturday after redshirt freshman guard Kobe Elvis took a knee to the leg.
“I thought [Smith] did a good job of playing with pace,” Grant said. “I thought he did a really good job for a freshman in that type of game, and that type of environment, playing with confidence and I thought he did some good things.”
Smith said the team has to have a short memory but can take lessons from Saturday’s one-point upset loss to UMass-Lowell.
“Definitely got to move on. I got a short memory… we got a young team, so we just got to move on and can’t dwell on one loss this early in the season, we got a lot of games… You can look at (the loss) any type of way, so we gone take all the lessons we could early in the season rather than later.”
Grant said “without question” the team can take lessons from the loss.
“I had a chance to watch the game several times now. There are things that I think we can get a lot better at that we will get a lot better at on both sides of the ball. So yeah, a lot of things that we can improve going into this game.”
Smith said the attitude going into Wednesday night’s 7 p.m. tip-off is to “dominate.”
“Just dominate. We got to win that game just to prove a point to show we could do this.”