Dayton gets its man; can Anthony Grant keep the Flyers on the upswing?

Anthony Grant looks like a strong hire for University of Dayton basketball.

The 50-year-old brings a little bit of everything to the table.

He’s a former Flyer, so he knows what a unique place in college basketball Dayton holds.

He has proven he can win at a mid-major school (VCU), and he has seen first-hand the differences that go into trying to build a powerhouse program in the SEC - both as an assistant at Florida and as a head coach at Alabama.

Two years working with NBA players surely broadened his perspective, and there’s no doubt being able to drop Russell Westbrook’s name on a recruiting visit could come in handy.

RELATED: Final Four coach an admirer of Anthony Grant

GALLERY: Anthony Grant as a Dayton Flyer

But, Grant’s resume is not perfect.

While he helped the Gators and Billy Donovan put together and train two national championship teams, Grant’s Crimson Tide made one NCAA tournament in six years.

He’s not the up-and-comer Archie Miller was, but hires such as the one Dayton made with Miller are fraught with risk. No one knows what an assistant is going to do in the big chair until they actually occupy it.

And while being a steppingstone job has its pros and cons, perhaps Grant views Dayton as more of a destination than most.

Only he knows that, and only time will tell how it all works out. 

The real question on the minds of every Flyers fan is this: Can Grant continue Dayton’s upward trajectory?

Over the past 20 years, multiple schools with many similarities have not only become consistent competitors in smaller conferences, but legitimate national names, which begs another question: Why not Dayton?

Comparisons to Butler, Creighton, Gonzaga, and old nemesis Xavier, don’t show any reason the Flyers can’t join them as permanent fixtures in the upper firmament of college basketball.

WATCH new Dayton coach Anthony Grant interviewed by Don Donoher in 1986

Per data from the U.S. Dept. of Education from 2015 (the most recent year available), Dayton had a much larger enrollment than all four of those schools and enjoyed higher men’s basketball revenues than all four. Only the Bluejays drew more fans to home games than the Flyers.

Expenditures ranged from just over $4.8 million at Butler to $7.2 million at Gonzaga and Creighton.

UD reported men’s basketball expenses at just over $5 million while Xavier spent $5.7 million.

RELATED: Assistant coach praises hire of Grant

We know from statements made by UD Athletics Director Neil Sullivan the school was willing to make Miller one of the 10 highest paid coaches in the country (or close to it), so paying for a coach isn’t an issue.

That means it comes down to that one magic word in all of college athletics: recruiting.

Over the last four years, Dayton’s average national recruiting class ranking via 247sports is 84. That beats Creighton (91.8) but trails Gonzaga (74), Butler (65.3) and Xavier (54).

(It should be noted transfers and international recruits have been important for Mark Few’s Zags.)

Over the past four years, Dayton’s best class rated 60th in 2013. Meanwhile, Xavier has signed classes ranked 17th and 28th, Butler has two top 50 class and so does Gonzaga, including a 2016 group that was 15th.

Xavier’s incoming class is ranked ninth and has two four-star prospects, the same number as Butler (ranked 20th). Creighton is 22nd and has three four-stars.

READ MORE at Marcus Hartman’s “Cus Words Blog

Dayton’s class is 110th and headlined by three-star point guard McKinley Wright (who some worry will try to follow Miller to Indiana).

The case could be made Dayton was actually falling behind those programs on the recruiting trail, so the challenge for Grant is clear.

What Dayton needs to take the next step is a coach who can develop and motivate players the way Miller did while recruiting more like Grant’s old boss.

Just about everything else he needs to win appears to be in place. 

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

Bengals coordinator on defense vs. Panthers: ‘We just had a stinker’
Bengals coordinator on defense vs. Panthers: ‘We just had a stinker’

Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Teryl Austin wasn’t about to make excuses for how his defense performed Sunday against Carolina. In fact, he placed the blame almost entirely on himself and vowed Cincinnati (2-1) will do better this week at Atlanta (1-2). The Bengals gave up 230 yards rushing in a 31-21 loss to the Panthers , as...
High School Football State Poll: Which area teams are ranked?
High School Football State Poll: Which area teams are ranked?

How a state panel of sports writers and broadcasters rates Ohio high school football teams in the weekly Associated Press poll of 2018. Teams are ranked by OHSAA divisions, with won-lost record and total points (first-place votes in parentheses): 1. Cin. Colerain (9) 5-0 217 2. Mentor (8) 5-0 214 3. Pickerington Central (6) 5-0 208 4. Reynoldsburg...
Ohio State QB Haskins wins Big Ten Player of the Week award for second time in four weeks
Ohio State QB Haskins wins Big Ten Player of the Week award for second time in four weeks

Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Dwayne Haskins won the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week award Monday for the second time in four weeks. Haskins shared the award with Penn State running back Miles Sanders. The No. 4 Buckeyes and No. 9 Nittany Lions play at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in State College, Pa. In a 49-6 victory against Tulane, Haskins completed...
Miami coach praises team’s ‘persistance’ in MAC-opening road win
Miami coach praises team’s ‘persistance’ in MAC-opening road win

Even though Bowling Green went into Saturday’s game against Miami with the Mid-American Conference’s worst rushing defense, the visiting, injury-riddled RedHawks hardly seemed poised to run roughshod over the Falcons. Led by Alonzo Smith’s career-high 164 rushing yards, Miami piled up a startling 289 yards on the ground on the way...
Bengals Report Card: Grading Sunday’s 31-21 loss to Panthers
Bengals Report Card: Grading Sunday’s 31-21 loss to Panthers

The Cincinnati Bengals couldn’t overcome turnovers, injuries or the Carolina Panthers’ running game Sunday as they suffered their first loss of the season. With running back Joe Mixon out, Cincinnati turned to its passing game but lost standout wide receiver A.J. Green to a groin injury early in the third quarter and quarterback Andy Dalton...
More Stories