Dayton players attacked the basket with abandon Saturday night against Findlay. It was an exhibition game in name only. The Flyers put their bodies on the line as if it were March.
In a 96-87 victory at UD Arena, Dayton scored 40 points in the paint and 40 points at the free-throw line.
“That’s kind of who we are,” coach Archie Miller said. “We’re a very aggressive-minded group. We have a lot of guys who can attack the rim. Playing against them in the first half, as they were man-to-man, they get out and pressure a little bit. We knew we were going to get some driving lanes. Once they started calling some of the fouls, we were in the bonus really quick.”
The new emphasis on calling hand-check fouls and the changes to the charge/block call turned the game into a free-throw shooting contest.
Players from both sides took advantage. UD’s Devin Oliver scored 11 of his 17 points at the line. Jordan Sibert scored eight of his 23 at the line. Dyshawn Pierre, Matt Kavanaugh, Scoochie Smith and Alex Gavrilovic made all their free throws, shooting a combined 14-of-14.
“It’s a double-edged sword,” Sanford said. “You get to the foul line, but you don’t want the other team to get to the foul line as well.”
Sanford said the players are trying to adjust to the changes in officiating. If Saturday’s game is any indication, it’s going to take some time.
“I feel like for a lot of us, it’s in the back of our heads now not to foul, so we just kind of let the offensive player score,” Sanford said. “Each player is trying to get over that, but it’s hard right now. We’ll get better with it.”
The foul issue is a problem for all teams, but now Miller’s biggest concern is the play of his big men. Kavanaugh and Jalen Robinson were limited to 14 and 6 minutes, respectively, because of foul trouble. Freshman Kendall Pollard had two points in seven minutes. Gavrilovic had the biggest impact with nine points and three rebounds in 22 minutes.
Devon Scott, who was suspended for the two exhibition games, will be available for the season opener against IPFW at 2 p.m. Saturday at UD Arena.
“We’re not getting a whole lot of rhythm from our bigs,” Miller said. “Those guys are having a hard time getting in the flow of the game. We’ve got to address some things there. Getting Devon Scott back in the mix is going to help our depth a little bit more.”
IPFW at Dayton, 2 p.m. Saturday, 95.7, 1290, Fox Sports Ohio