Men’s Basketball: Friday Regular Season Preview Against Ball State

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By: James Dronzek – Staff Writer

The Dayton Flyers men’s basketball team hosts Ball State tonight at the UD Arena in the teams’ first regular season games. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.

Both teams won their lone exhibition matchups in the preseason, as Dayton beat Ohio Dominican by a score of 79-61 while Ball State cruised to a victory against Saint Francis (Ind.), 91-67.

This will be Flyers’ head coach Anthony Grant’s first regular season game coaching a Dayton team that is looking to find its identity with a group of established starting veterans and talented freshmen off of the bench.

“We have a great team coming in here in Ball State, so we just have to make sure we have the right focus and the right preparation,” Grant said.

Dayton will be led by the upperclassmen, as they were in the exhibition. Team captain and redshirt junior forward Josh Cunningham led the team in scoring in the victory against Ohio Dominican with 22 points, while senior guard Darrell Davis contributed 14 points and junior forward Xeryius Williams grabbed a game high 15 rebounds.

Williams mentioned that the team is trying to find an “adjustment” as this new season begins, as coach Grant begins his journey coaching at Dayton and the freshmen look to make an impact next to the returning players.

Their exhibition matchup was a great opportunity for the young group to start meshing with the experienced starters, as they had the opportunity to play alongside starters, such as sophomore guard Trey Landers, and fend for their own. Forward Kostas Antetokuonmpo provided crowd-pleasing dunks off of the bench while Matej Svoboda led the freshman in scoring with 13 points.

“I was a little nervous in front of 13,000 people, but I was able to make some shots, and I think we all showed that we were ready to play,” Svoboda said.

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Facing Ball State will almost be like looking in a mirror for the Flyers, as the Cardinals are also working with a new group of players who made an immediate impact in their preseason game. Jontrell Walker, a junior transfer, scored 14 points, while freshman forward Zach Gunn picked up double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

The Cardinals’ more experienced group features sophomore forward Tahjai Teague and junior guard Tayler Persons, whom both scored 13 points against Saint Francis.

It is always important to get out to a good start, and the Flyers are prepared and excited to go out on their home court and kick off the regular season.

Photo Courtesy of Griffin Quinn/Staff Photographer