Women’s basketball strength of schedule big for signature wins, recruiting

The Flyers faced Duke on Nov. 12 at UD Arena. Photo courtesy of Keegan Gupta, Flyer News.

Lucy Couch

Sports Staff Writer

University of Dayton Women’s Basketball tipped off its season on Friday, Nov. 5. November is an exciting time for basketball fans and this season will be one to look forward to. Not only do the Flyers have all five starters returning, but they also look to take on some tough, non-conference opponents having already faced Duke and Purdue. 

The Flyers lost 70-56 to Duke on Nov. 12 but beat Purdue 78-62 at Mackey Arena on Nov. 20. The Flyers later take on Illinois and Florida on Nov. 26 and Dec. 8, respectfully. Clemson and Mississippi State are also in the mix of those non-conference games. Though these teams do not rank in the AP Top 25 Rankings, the Flyers look to make a statement against big name teams in the ACC, SEC, and Big Ten. 

The name that sticks out the most on the 2021-22 schedule is the Duke Blue Devils. Duke Women’s Basketball has had a tremendous amount of success in college basketball. The team has made it to the NCAA Tournament 24 times in the past 33 years. Additionally, the Blue Devils have made it to the Sweet Sixteen 6 times and to the Elite Eight 4 times since 2010. 

There have also been 10 WNBA players in the league who graduated from Duke.  This was an opportunity for Flyer fans to come out and watch their team go up against a big-name school in college basketball. Competing against Duke is invaluable for the program and will help its fanbase come together as one. 

Assistant Coach and Recruiting Coordinator Ryan Gensler said, “When we recruit players, we say that going to Dayton is very similar to going to a Power Five school. It’s one of the best arenas in the country and we play the best schools in the country.” 

Gensler reflected on what playing well-respected teams like UConn did for the program and its fans. “The fans are passionate, they get it.” 

The Flyers average 3,000 fans per game at UD Arena. 

In addition to creating excitement for fans and boosting the reputation of the Flyers basketball program, playing more than seven non-conference games this season will help Dayton come March. Getting a few signature wins against programs with strong overall records will help the Flyers when the NCAA Tournament comes around. The team earned the A-10 regular season title in 2020 and looks to challenge itself and compete this season.

Gensler commented on what the strength of schedule does for the team. 

“You look at where you want to be. You don’t want to assume you can get to the tournament; you want to be in the conversation from day one.” 

Gensler later explained that if the Flyers don’t win the conference tournament, they are still at the table in terms of seeding because of the opportunity the team had to play tough opponents. “This is the most challenging schedule we’ve ever had, but we have a lot of experience on the team and our players can handle this kind of schedule.” 

 The Flyers strength of schedule this season will allow them to build their resume and get experience against tough opponents. This seasoned group of players can handle this type of challenge and they look to be seen as a serious contender come March. Flyer fans will have multiple opportunities to come out to UD Arena and see this team in action against tough opponents.

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