Dayton Flyers: Toughest stretch of A-10 schedule comes in February

Sept 05, 2018
Dayton’s Ryan Mikesell practices on July 31, 2018, at UD’s Cronin Center. David Jablonski/Staff

One of the most wide-open Atlantic 10 Conference seasons in recent memory begins Jan. 6 for the Dayton Flyers, who play the Richmond Spiders in the first of 18 A-10 games in a nine-week span.

The A-10 released the full schedule Wednesday. Here are 10 things to know about Dayton’s slate of games:

1. Busy Sundays: Two of Dayton’s first three games will be played on Sundays. After opening with Richmond on noon in the first Sunday of 2019, the Flyers play at home a week later against Massachusetts.

Seven of Dayton’s conference games will be played on Saturdays. Five will be played on Wednesdays. Three will be played on Tuesdays. One will be played on Friday.

2. Soft start: Dayton will play three teams that finished under .500 last season in its first three games: Richmond (12-20, 9-9); George Washington (15-18, 7-11); and UMass (13-20, 5-13).

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3. Road woes: Dayton will try to end a four-game losing streak at George Washington’s Smith Center on Jan. 9. The Colonials, entering their third year under coach Maurice Joseph, saw a streak of four straight 20-win seasons end last season.

4. Third trip: The Flyers are 1-1 at Davidson’s Belk Arena since the Wildcats entered the conference in 2015, losing 77-60 in 2015 and winning 89-82 in overtime 2017 thanks to clutch 3-point shooting by Scoochie Smith. The Flyers play in Davidson, N.C., on Feb. 19.

Davidson won the A-10 tournament for the first time last season, and while it lost the A-10 Co-Player of the Year, forward Peyton Aldridge, it returns the A-10 Rookie of the Year, 6-foot-5 guard Kellan Grady (18.0 points per game).

5. Toughest stretch: From Feb. 5-23, Dayton plays two games against Saint Louis, which will likely be the preseason favorite to win the conference, road games against Rhode Island and Davidson, two of the three A-10 teams that made the A-10 tournament, and a home game against Virginia Commonwealth, a program that has turned into one of Dayton’s top rivals.

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6. National exposure: The A-10 will have seven games showcased on ESPN on Friday nights. Dayton gets one of those games: at home against Rhode Island at 7 p.m. March 1.

Rhode Island lost four senior starters plus coach Dan Hurley from a team that finished 26-8 and won the A-10 regular-season championship with a 15-3 mark. The new head coach is David Cox, an assistant under Hurley the last four seasons.

7. TV schedule: Dayton will also have six A-10 games on the CBS Sports Network and four games on the NBC Sports Network. The television schedule for Dayton’s remaining seven A-10 games have not been announced.

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8. Rest period: Dayton does not play a game between Feb. 9, when it visits Rhode Island, and Feb. 16, when it plays VCU at home.

VCU returns to Dayton for the first time since losing 106-79 last season at UD Arena. VCU beat Dayton in Richmond and also in the first round of the A-10 tournament.

9. Back to Bronx: Dayton plays at Fordham on Jan. 26. The Flyers have won six straight games at Rose Hill Gym, the 294th-largest gym in the country.

10. Pittsburgh finale: Dayton closes the A-10 schedule March 9 at Duquesne. The Flyers lost 70-62 at Duquesne last season in the first A-10 game of the Anthony Grant era.