By: Michael Crouchley – Staff Writer
Entering the 2017-2018 season, UD’s men’s basketball team is almost unrecognizable from the core that left the floor of the NCAA Tournament in March. After losing four players with significant minutes, the on-court leadership will have to fall into the hands of the few veteran Flyers. Trey Landers, who is beginning his sophomore season, has quickly risen from apprentice to master among Dayton’s ranks, and has embraced his newfound leadership role.
Landers is certainly well-equipped to take on the added responsibility as he spent a large portion of the offseason working on getting into better shape.
“I’ve always been in decent shape, but I feel like this year I really had to work on my eating habits,” Landers commented. “I know I’m getting stronger in the weight room, but as far as it transfering on the court I don’t see myself getting tired as much. I’m able to get up and down better and help my team to my best ability.”
As important as his physical transformation was, Landers claims the mental aspect of the game is where he’s seen the most refinement.
“Obviously I didn’t play as much last year, but [I gained] that experience. I’ve obviously worked on my body and everything, but the biggest thing would be my mental thought and everything.”
The Flyers are hoping that Landers’ all around improvement will lead to production on the court.
“Trey’s done a great job,” said head coach Anthony Grant. “He looks like a guy that’s been here before.”
In addition to his changing role on the court, Landers will look to use his experience to succeed in a new role off the court.
“It’s different for me, now I have to be a leader for all these guys,” Landers said. “Now I’m having to be like the big brother, and I was just the little brother last year. So it’s different for me, but I feel like I’m taking on the role pretty well.”
Mentorship, as it turns out, is a two-way street. Dayton’s freshman class this season features four players 6 feet 7 or above–an abundance the 6 foot 5 Landers and other Flyer veterans have not seen on their own team in recent seasons.
“It’s a lot more size with Kostas [Antetokounmpo], you got [Obadiah Toppin],” Landers said. “It’s a lot different from last year…with me being in here and having to go up against the 6’8”, 6’9” guys is different.”
After averaging just 5.8 minutes in nine games played last year, Landers started and played 15 minutes in the Flyers’ exhibition game on Saturday against Ohio Dominican. He shot well from the field, making three of five field goal attempts, and dished a precise lob to redshirt freshman Kostas Antetokounmpo for an emphatic alley-oop slam.
He’ll be looking to carry his training and strong play as the Flyers tip off the regular season against Ball State Nov. 10 at 7:00 pm.
Photo by Christian Cubacub/Multimedia Editor