By: Daniel Massa – Sports Editor
The Dayton men’s basketball team left UD Arena with a 96-69 win in its only exhibition tune-up over Division II opponent Saginaw Valley State Saturday afternoon.
Six Flyers scored in double-figures, led by redshirt first-year center Steve McElvene. The 6-foot-11 McElvene scored 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting and also grabbed seven rebounds in just 17 minutes of action.
McElvene took advantage of the size difference down low between himself and the Cardinals, whose tallest player, 6-foot-9 forward Caleb Davis, proved to be more comfortable playing on the perimeter. All seven of Davis’ field goal attempts were from 3-point range, where he converted two of them.
On the other hand, all nine of McElvene’s shot attempts were within the paint, leading to easy scoring opportunities, especially off offensive rebounds. Six of McElvene’s seven rebounds came on the offensive end.
Redshirt junior guard Charles Cooke, a James Madison transfer who sat out last season because of NCAA transfer rules, and junior point guard Scoochie Smith each had 13 points. Smith added five rebounds, three assists and two steals as well, while Cooke was 2-for-4 from 3-point range.
Despite the lopsided result, Dayton head coach Archie Miller cautioned that the team still has a lot of things to work on as it heads into its season opener Friday against Southeast Missouri State at UD Arena.
“We’re very, very, very far away from being ready to go in terms of being able to win at the highest level that we need to,” Miller said after Saturday’s game, which kicked off his fifth season at the helm of the Dayton men’s program.
In all, six newcomers saw action for the first time in a Dayton uniform. The aforementioned Cooke and McElvene were joined by first-year forwards Ryan Mikesell, Sam Miller and Xeyrius Williams, as well as point guard John Crosby, in making their Flyer debuts.
Mikesell and Miller had 10 points each, with Mikesell adding four rebounds and five assists, while Miller tied McElvene for the team lead with seven boards.
Although each first-year Flyer showed flashes of what they can bring to this program now and into the future, their head coach knows they still might need a little more time to get acclimated to the college game, which can only come through more experience.
“You have got to be able to play through mistakes and learn how to do it in a game,” Miller said of the potential growing pains of first-year players. “The biggest thing they’re learning right now is that every possession really matters, offense and defense.”
Dayton reportedly lost to Purdue in a secret scrimmage last Sunday, which took the place of a second exhibition. But after just one exhibition in front of a crowd to prepare the Flyers for the regular season, Smith likes where the team stands heading into the season.
“I think we’re ready [for the regular season],” Smith said. “We’ve still got a lot of improving to do. It’s only November, and [we’re] still a long way from where we could be, but that’s how it goes every year.”
For the full photo gallery from the game, click below.