Dayton Flyers coach Archie Miller said before the season he planned to write Steve McElvene’s No. 5 on a dry-erase board in the locker room before every game. He has stuck to that plan, point guard Scoochie Smith said Monday. The players wear the same No. 5 on their uniforms right above their hearts.
McElvene died May 12 of an enlarged heart less than two months after breaking Dayton’s single-season blocks record and emerging as one of the best young big men in the Atlantic 10. Almost 10 months later, as the team chases a conference title and a fourth straight NCAA tournament berth, he remains a big part of the team.
“He’s been a memory in our head all season,” Smith said.
That’s especially true this week. Dayton plays Virginia Commonwealth at 8 p.m. Wednesday on Senior Night at UD Arena. Last year on Senior Night at UD Arena, it was McElvene who pressured a 3-pointer by VCU at the buzzer in overtime. Dayton won to clinch a share of the conference title.
There’s no doubt the Flyers have seen that play on film this week. They see McElvene on film all the time.
“Steve’s on our minds every day within the office,” Miller said. “We have more laughs than anything when we talk about him. Especially as you go through the season, you remind yourself of last season all the time. How did the game go last year? What did we do? You’re watching film, and sometimes he’s on there. You can’t help but smile. I think as we finish up this regular season it just reminds me of how much these guys have been through, how hard it has been to go through. To be where we are right now, that’s pretty big. It shows a lot of character.”