#28 Dayton Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Dayton Flyers
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #28
Conference Rank: #2 Atlantic 10
Dayton reached the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season, but there was no magical run for the Flyers. Instead, they were the first victim of Syracuse on their trip to the Final Four. Part of the reason for Dayton’s struggles late in the year was an injury to Kendall Pollard. The 6-6 forward missed a few games earlier in the season and when he came back he was not the same. Pollard is healthy again now after a couple of surgeries and he should be able to boost his 10.3 point and 4.9 rebound averages of last season.
2015-16 Record: 25-8, 14-4
2015-16 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Archie Miller
Coach Record: 115-55 at Dayton, 115-55 overall
Who’s Out:
Pollard will have to anchor the frontcourt this season. Dyshawn Pierre, another 6-6 forward, averaged 12.7 points and a team high 8.7 rebounds during his senior season. Pierre was suspended for the first semester, but was able to step right back onto the team and make a big impact. Steve McElvene tragically passed away during the offseason. The 6-11 forward had a very promising future ahead of him and started 16 games while Pierre was suspended and Pollard was hurt. On the year he averaged 6.3 points and 5.6 rebounds and Dayton will feel his loss more than just on the court. The only other departure is little used Bobby Wehrli.
Who’s In:
Dayton has plenty of frontcourt options returning besides Pollard, but Josh Cunningham will find himself in the mix for major playing time as well. Cunningham spent his freshman campaign at Bradley where he averaged 7.9 points and 7.5 rebounds. He ranked fifth in the country among freshmen in rebounding in 2014-2015 and that is exactly what Dayton needs. At 6-7 and 225 pounds, Cunningham is not a big, imposing forward, but he has a knack for rebounding and can do a little shooting too. Kostas Antetokounmpo has more size, but he will redshirt this season as a partial qualifier. That leaves Trey Landers as the lone incoming freshman. The tough 6-4 guard could find a role this season as a shutdown defender.
Who to Watch:
Scoochie Smith, Charles Cooke and Kyle Davis will step back into their starting roles on the perimeter. Smith is the leader of the unit and one of the best point guards in the Atlantic 10. He dished out 4.3 assists per game and added 11.9 points. Smith kept getting better as last season progressed too and he is poised for a big senior season. Smith might be the leader on the floor, but Cooke is the star. The 6-5 wing led the team with 15.5 points per game and is a dangerous scorer from everywhere on the floor. He knocked down a team high 55 three-pointers and will get to the free-throw line on a regular basis by attacking the basket. Cooke, who tallied 38 steals and 37 blocks on the year, was also named to the A-10’s All-Defensive team. Davis is an amazingly efficient and clutch scorer. He is only 6-0, but managed to shoot 50.3 percent from the floor. Davis can handle the ball too and provides Dayton with a secondary ball handler. Darrell Davis and backup point guard John Crosby will again provide much of the depth on the perimeter.
Final Projection:
Size in the frontcourt is where this team is lacking, but a trio of sophomore forwards gained valuable experience a year ago. Sam Miller, at 6-9 and 238 pounds, is the biggest of the bunch. He has a nice outside shot and can block some shots as well. Ryan Mikesell will make some three-pointers too. Xeyrius Williams is the least polished offensively, but he is a shot blocking threat and a more dangerous presence on the defensive end compared to Miller and Mikesell. Coach Archie Miller will find roles for Cunningham and the other sophomores, yet the important thing is that there are options and those options are pretty good. The frontcourt will be the weak spot, but not weak enough for Dayton to miss the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Scoochie Smith, Senior, Guard, 11.9 points per game
Kyle Davis, Senior, Guard, 8.1 points per game
Charles Cooke, Senior, Guard, 15.5 points per game
Kendall Pollard, Senior, Forward, 10.3 points per game
Josh Cunningham, Sophomore, Forward, DNP last season
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 72.5 (186th in nation, 9th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.9 (38, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.5 (91, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.4 (38, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.7 (205, 11)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.4 (177, 9)
Free-Throw Percentage: 66.8 (286, 13)
Rebound Margin: 4.6 (48, 3)
Assists Per Game: 14.6 (88, 6)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.9 (200, 11)