Ryan Mikesell (left, #33) joined general manager Joey Gruden to speak to local media in anticipation of next month’s TBT. Photo courtesy of Ben Solomon.
In one month, the Red Scare will begin their quest for a championship in The Basketball Tournament against Armenian champions BC Vahakni City at the Covelli Center on the campus of the Ohio State University.
With tip-off set for 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 24, the team’s general managers Joey Gruden and Jeremiah Bonsu, and players like Ryan Mikesell have one month left before they look to take the next step after making last year’s semifinals. Gruden and Mikesell spoke to local media after a practice session.
Being placed in the Columbus regional, the Flyers will have plenty of support with full capacity and a short distance between Dayton and Ohio’s capital city. Gruden and Mikesell both said having a home court advantage will be important to the team’s success (the quarter finals will be held at UD Arena beginning July 31).
“I think (playing in Columbus is huge,” Gruden said. “The amount of people I’ve heard buying tickets already, asking for more information, all Dayton fans, obviously, I think it will be close to sold-out, just like a couple of years ago at Capital (University). I think we’re definitely going to have a home-court advantage compared to the Armenian team, who probably won’t have any fans there. I think it will definitely give us a big edge that will help us out, go as far as we want.”
Mikesell, who is joined by a host of other former Flyers, who agreed with Gruden that the advantage will be huge, said the motivation to play at UD Arena is also a driving force.
“I know if we can win three games and get to UD Arena, anything can happen, no matter who we play,” Mikesell said. “Whenever you have home-court advantage, it can swing you into a situation where you feel like you’re almost invincible out there on the court. You start making shots, playing a little harder on defense, communicating more, it just falls in place with one another. It’s definitely motivating.”
On the Red Scare roster, Mikesell (2015-20 is joined by fellow former Flyers Trey Landers (2016-20), Darrell Davis (2014-18), Kendall Pollard (2013-17), Jordan Sibert (2013-15), Devon Scott (2012-15), Devin Oliver (2010-14), and Brandon Spearman (2010-11), along with former Ohio State Buckeye Trevor Thompson. All but Sibert and Scott return from last year’s team, which lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Golden Eagles.
Mikesell said it will be “a lot of fun” to re-join former teammates, as well as getting to play with the new guys who have had success at Dayton and overseas. Mikesell has also now played overseas, joining Landers in Germany (on different teams).
“(Playing overseas) has definitely boosted my confidence,” Mikesell said. “Just looking back, when I was a player at Dayton, from my senior year (to now) my body has changed, my skills have changed just playing at a professional level… Individually I’ve had a lot of success, but team-wise we have a lot of guys who have been really successful at their professional levels, so I think having that success at the TBT (last year), hopefully it will snowball into even more success and continuing to not really being satisfied with how we did last year, because ultimately, we didn’t win. So we have to keep that same hunger and continue to see if we can make it to Dayton.”
Gruden concurred that the familiarity among the players is “a huge advantage” and helps give Red Scare an edge in a tournament that he says is tougher than people give it credit for.
To be successful in the tournament, Gruden will continue to prepare by scouting and digging on Twitter and YouTube to find film of the Armenian team. He is also looking to see what his players “did well and what we can do better” before a one-week training camp at UD’s RecPlex beginning on July 19.
“We’re just trying to plan and give these guys the best set-up for training camp,” Gruden said. “We’ll either go once or twice a day, walk through some plays, just so we’re on the right page and familiar with what we are doing. The more familiar you are with each other, the better you’re going to do, which is a huge advantage for us, all being Dayton guys and being able to practice, it’s definitely a huge advantage compared to some of these other teams.”