No one can sum up the feelings of the Dayton Flyers better than senior guard Kyle Davis.
“I don’t want the credit,” Davis wrote Thursday on Twitter. “I just want to be remembered when it’s all over.”
There’s no doubt Davis will be. The legacies of his fellow seniors, who secured their place as the winningest class in school history with their 98th career victory Tuesday at Saint Louis, are already secure, too. For that class and for this team, the only question is: How will it all end?
Dayton (20-5, 11-2) plays St. Bonaventure (16-9, 8-5) at 2 p.m. Saturday. Four games remain after this one. Dayton fans will get to see Davis, Scoochie Smith, Kendall Pollard and Charles Cooke only two more times at UD Arena after this game.
Everything the Flyers want to accomplish — winning the Atlantic 10 regular-season title, the A-10 tournament and playing in the NCAA tournament — is right at their fingertips. Their play in their current five-game winning streak has made everyone believe they will do everything they set out to do.
“It’s late in the season,” Cooke said. “This is the time when you want everything to start clicking. This is the time when you want everyone to start meshing well.”
The Flyers know momentum can turn fast. They were 20-3 last season and then lost their next two games. A win Saturday will give them the same record through 26 games as a year ago.
“Last year at this time, we hit a wall mentally,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said. “I didn’t think last year’s team finished quite like some of the other teams with the focus and chemistry we needed. We sort of fractured at the end. We were still able to finish the season off with a great win and capture the A-10 title, but we definitely weren’t playing our best basketball.”
Miller doesn’t see this season going the way of last season because he likes how the team looks in practice. The practice efforts have carried over to the games.
If the Flyers win their last five regular-season games, they will have their most regular-season wins since they were 25-6 in 2008-09. Of course, Dayton hasn’t ended the regular season with more than three straight wins since it won seven straight games in 1989-90.
PREVIEW: St. Bonaventure at Dayton
Surviving these last five games without a loss won’t be easy, especially with road games at Davidson and George Washington on the schedule. The first step is beating the Bonnies. Dayton did just that in the second A-10 game of the season, pulling away in the second half for a 90-74 victory. Dayton made 14 of 23 3-pointers in that game. Even Kendall Pollard made a career-high 3 of 3.
St. Bonaventure couldn’t keep up. It was a similar story a season ago when Dayton turned one of its best offensive performances into an 85-79 victory at St. Bonaventure. The Bonnies then turned the tables on the Flyers and won 79-72 at UD Arena.
Jaylen Adams hit the big shot in that victory in Dayton. He and fellow junior guard Matt Mobley will be the players to watch Saturday. They rank second and fifth in the conference in scoring, averaging 40.3 points between them.
The Bonnies have been up and down throughout the A-10 schedule, but it’s a team that would have, could have and should have beaten Virginia Commonwealth, the team tied with Dayton for first, two weeks ago.
Mobley hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds remaining. The Bonnies lost when an administrative technical foul was called against St. Bonaventure. VCU’s JeQuan Lewis sent the game to overtime with a free throw, and VCU won 83-77.
“(St. Bonaventure’s) a terrific team,” Miller said. “They have one of the elite backcourts in all of college basketball with Adams and Mobley. Those guys put pressure on you. Their front court is very skilled pick and pop wise. Denzel Gregg has hit his stride as a senior. They’re very playing very well. I expect it to be one of the hardest games we’ve played all season.”