Men’s Basketball Preview: Flyers’ Unique Seniors Share Common Ending
Senior guards Joey Gruden and Darrell Davis have very little in common beyond the title of “senior guard.”
While Davis leads the team in minutes played, eclipsing 1000 minutes on the season and averaging 35.3 per game, Gruden has only seen the court for seven minutes the entire season. Davis’ 15.2 points per game is good for second-best on the team, which contrasts starkly to the three total points Gruden has on the season. When Gruden hit that three-pointer against VCU in January, he more than doubled his career scoring total.
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Despite the differences, one thing they have in common is that Saturday’s game against George Washington will be the last time either suits in front of the Flyer faithful.
“Senior day is always a special day,” said coach Anthony Grant. “For Joey and Darrell, it’ll
be a chance to show an appreciation for what their careers have meant here.”
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Davis’ last year as a Flyer was drastically different from his previous three. Beyond the team’s relative lack of success this season, Davis’ individual role changed too.
After being recruited out of Douglass Academy in Detroit, Michigan, Davis was immediately given a role as a rotation player on the Flyers’ squad, but found it challenging to carve out a bigger role as time went on. Davis’ minutes hovered around 20 per game for all of his first three years.
“Darrell was a guy who didn’t have a chance to impact as much during the early part of his career,” Grant said.
This season was very different, being the lone scholarship player with three years of prior experience as a Flyer, Davis was a focal point.
“The way that he stepped up this year, with his scoring and all the different things he does for us from a defensive standpoint, I certainly think he’s grown a lot,” Grant said.
Davis admitted he hadn’t given much thought to what it will be like walking out to center court to get honored before the game.
“I’m still trying to visualize how it will feel playing my last game at UD Arena,” Davis said.
Gruden was an all-conference athlete in basketball, football and volleyball during his high school days in Leesburg, Virginia. After only receiving Division III offers, Gruden decided to attend the University of Dayton, his uncle Jon’s alma mater.
Gruden became a walk-on for the Flyers during his sophomore year, and quickly figured out how he was able to make a difference.
“My job is to get the guys ready go before games,” Gruden said.
Gruden’s contribution was rarely seen on the stat sheet, but it could be felt in practice and on the sideline.
“It’s a lot more demanding than people realize,” Grant said about the roles of a walk-on during practice.
“The expectation is that when they’re called upon they’re ready to go. Whether it be to execute our opponents plays, or even to show us a defense that they’ve never ran in their lives.The preparation that those guys have to put in, I’ve got a lot of respect for that.”
Gruden hopes to coach basketball in his future.
“I guess I’ll kind of take after my dad,” Gruden said, referencing his father Jay, who is the head coach of the Washington Redskins. “I’ll just be coaching a different sport.”
Saturday’s game against George Washington will tip off at 3 p.m. at UD Arena. Davis and Gruden will be honored in a pregame ceremony.
Photos Taken by Griffin Quinn/Staff Photographer