By: Katie Obear – Staff Writer
This season, the University of Dayton men’s basketball team will no longer be under the radar of other teams in the nonconference schedule and the Atlantic 10 Conference.
“Very few people are going to look at us and say, well that’s little old Dayton,” head coach Archie Miller said.
Vee Sanford entered UD basketball lore with a game-winning, last second shot against Ohio State University in the first round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament. After taking down Syracuse University and Stanford University, the Flyers lost to the University of Florida with a bid to the Final Four on the line.
“Just giving the city a reason to celebrate was something special,” junior forward Devon Scott said.
After each win, campus erupted. After each win, the Cinderella story developed further. Now all of the press and the accolades are in the rearview mirror.
A new season began Saturday, with the team hoping to build something special once again.
This year’s team is not letting the historic wins of March Madness and the Elite Eight run of 2014 interfere with the start of this season.
“Last year kind of snuck up on a lot of people, but this year people are going to be looking for us and trying to steal wins from us,” junior forward Dyshawn Pierre said. “We have to be really focused and know that each time is going to be a hard game regardless of who we play.”
The Flyers started out their 2014-15 season with an exhibition win against Southern Indiana at home. With last year’s tournament run in mind and key pieces returning, league coaches picked UD to finish third in the A-10.
The team hopes to use the success as motivation rather than satisfaction with past accomplishments.
“I feel like this year we are going to show people that last year wasn’t a fluke. Like ‘they just happened to win some games.’ No, we won those games because we were tougher than teams and we work harder and we will continue to do that,” redshirt senior guard Jordan Sibert said.
Losing many dedicated leaders such as Devin Oliver, Matt Kavanaugh and Sanford, new leadership will have to step up this season.
“We kind of lost that vocal leadership, especially guys who have been in the program for a while,” Sibert said.
With many of the leaders graduating last year, rising players are pushing themselves to be stronger leaders for this “True Team’s” 2014-2015 season.
“One thing that I want to do is just take my knowledge and try to be as vocal as possible with it, so you know we have a lot of new guys in place now and they need to know the ropes and need to understand what we’re doing and what it took to where we got to last year,” Sibert said.
Sibert isn’t the only one looking to bring more leadership to the team.
“I’m hoping to be more vocal and just have a positive attitude toward the season so far, be more aggressive on the floor and just try to win at all costs,” Pierre said.
According to Miller, Scott has stepped up as a prominent voice in this year’s locker room, signaling that new leadership for the Dayton basketball program is beginning to take form.