Photo of Trey Landers taken by Griffin Quinn.
Sports Staff Writer
Even with its abrupt ending, the 2019-20 season was a special one for the Dayton Flyers men’s basketball team, perhaps no more so than for their two seniors, who became affectionately known as the “glue guys.”
Those two seniors are Trey Landers and forward Ryan Mikesell. Neither player consistently lit up the scoreboard like junior guard Jalen Crutcher or threw down an avalanche of thrilling dunks like sophomore forward Obi Toppin. But what they did in their final season – and throughout their careers at UD – was instrumental in building the Flyers into a national championship contender in their final season.
As much as a 29-2 record and a No. 3 ranking in the final AP Top 25 made for a special season, the incredible run ended for the Flyers (who had a 20-game winning streak heading into the Atlantic 10 Tournament) when the coronavirus pandemic rocked the sports world, causing the cancellation of both the A10 Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. The Flyers were projected to be a No. 1 seed.
Nonetheless, Landers and Mikesell still had a special close to their college careers on March 7 against George Washington in what they knew would be their final home game at UD Arena. Neither player could have expected it would be their last game with Dayton across their chest.
(Both players plan on playing for the Dayton TBT team if this summer’s tournament goes ahead. The quarterfinal and semifinal round would be played at UD Arena Aug. 6-8, with the championship to determine the $2 million prize winner on Aug. 11)
Landers and Mikesell were recognized pregame alongside their families and given framed jerseys in the classic Dayton red and blue. After a tough first half (Flyers led just 26-25), the Flyers pulled ahead for a 76-51 win.
In the waning minutes of the game, a Landers pass was deflected by a defender before it was tipped by redshirt junior forward Jordy Tshimanga to a wide-open Mikesell, who drilled the three from the corner in what would be his final shot at UD Arena.
After the game, Dayton head coach Anthony Grant said it was great to see Mikesell make his last shot and that Landers and Mikesell have been special players during their careers at Dayton.
“It means so much to them,” Grant said. “To represent the University of Dayton, and I think about some of the guys that came before them and some of what they saw before they ever came to the University of Dayton. The environment here at UD Arena, some of the players that came before them that inspired them and made them want to put that uniform on. It’s special.”
Mikesell and Landers were subbed out for the last time at UD Arena with just under two minutes left in the game, and even as play continued, chants of “Ry-an Mike-sell” and “Tre-y Land-ers” roared through the crowd.
“I don’t know how to put it into any other words,” Grant said. “Other than, when you go through this experience of playing at Dayton and you know you’re in your last game here at UD Arena, it’s surreal. (I’m) just really happy for (Mikesell and Landers), that they were able to go out on a winning note.”