Darren Hertz arrived at the University of Dayton in April, joining new Dayton Flyers head coach Anthony Grant’s staff a little more than three years after coaching against UD in the Elite Eight.
Hertz was on Billy Donovan’s staff in 2014 when top-seeded Florida beat No. 11 seed Dayton 62-52 in the South Regional final in Memphis, Tenn.
Hertz looked back on that game Monday in an interview with the Dayton Daily News.
“This says a lot about Dayton,” said Hertz, whose official title at UD is assistant to the head coach. “I do recall walking out on the floor literally minutes before the game, and I just remember an uneasy feeling of, ‘Wow, this almost feels like a road game.’ I had heard about the Dayton faithful, but I hadn’t seen it or witnessed it firsthand. I couldn’t believe how much red and blue I saw.”
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A 15-1 run in the last 4 minutes, 30 seconds of the first half doomed the Flyers. They trailed 38-24 at halftime and got no closer than eight points in the second half.
Hertz coached on Donovan’s staff from 1996-2015. Grant was an assistant on the staff for the first 11 seasons of that span. Florida won 467 games and two national championships during Hertz’s time with the program.
The 2013-14 Florida team had lost in the Elite Eight the three previous seasons. It would be the last of last of four Final Four teams for Donovan, who left the program in 2015 to coach the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“To pretend that there was no pressure going into that game would not be accurate,” Hertz said. “That team, that’s what they wanted to do. They really wanted to break through, for lack of a better term, and win that game. Obviously, we didn’t know who the opponent would be, but we felt like that was a Final Four-caliber team.”
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Dyshawn Pierre scored 18 points for Dayton. Devin Oliver had 12 points. Dayton’s leading scorer on the season, Jordan Sibert, was held scoreless and missed his only three field-goal attempts.
“We were fortunate that day,” Hertz said. “I don’t know that we played great. I know Dayton didn’t play their best game that day. They had played phenomenal throughout the NCAA tournament. We felt very fortunate that we maybe caught them on not their best night. Otherwise, it could have ended in a different way. It was two teams fighting hard. I remember how excited we were to win the game, but there was also a sense of relief.”