Thirty years and eight months — 11,208 days to be exact — after his final game as a Dayton senior, Anthony Grant was a Flyer again on Friday night.
Grant has been a Flyer since he was hired in March, of course, but this was his first official game as head coach. He stood where his coach, Hall of Famer Don Donoher, once stood as a sellout crowd of 13,350 fans, more than a few of whom were there 30 years ago, watched.
Grant couldn’t have scripted a better first game. The Flyers beat Ball State 78-77 on a basket by Josh Cunningham with 0.1 seconds to play at UD Arena. Grant, the 20th coach in UD history, is the seventh straight to win his first game.
“I’m blessed — I really am — every day to get a chance to do what I do,” Grant said. “I don’t take that for granted. It’s a surreal feeling to go out there and see 13,000 strong every night when you come out there. You could feel it at different points in the game. I’ve always said that about the Dayton crowd. They understand it. They get it.
“They were able to spur us when we got down there in the middle of the second quarter and gave us the energy to take the lead and fought all the way through to the end. You could feel the air kind of go out of the building in terms of the disappointment at the end. It looked like it wasn’t going to go in our favor, and then to hear the building explode at the end, I cherish every moment of that.”