Grant: New Flyers have bonded quickly with returners

Dayton men’s and women’s teams appear at season tipoff event

Jordy Tshimanga, the newest member of the Dayton Flyers men’s basketball team, stole the show Sunday at the annual season tipoff gathering for fans.

The event, held at Dr. Stephen Levitt’s house, gave fans their first glimpse of the 6-foot-11 transfer who will sit out this season before playing two seasons at Dayton.

Each player introduced themselves on a stage in front of more than 1,000 fans, telling everyone their names, positions, majors and hometowns. Tshimanga made the most of his time in the spotlight.

“Check one, two, one, two,” he said, testing the microphone.

Then Tshimanga said, “Bonjour,” to everyone, continuing to speak in French and making a joke about being a point guard, before switching back to English.

“What’s going on, you all,” he said, “I’m Jordy Tshimanga, previously at Nebraska. My major is psychology. I’m a center. And I’m from Montreal, Canada.”

» ARCHDEACON: Tshimanga has personality that dwarfs his size

Fans got to see all the newcomers and returning players on the Dayton men’s and women’s teams, and they also heard from men’s coach Anthony Grant and women’s coach Shauna Green.

Grant gave his early thoughts on the 2018-19 season, which begins Nov. 7 with a home game against North Florida. Practice can begin 42 days before that date, so Dayton can start as early as Sept. 25, though workouts will begin this week.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” Grant said, “and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a group that has been able to bond as quickly as these guys have. It’s a combination of the character we have in our veterans, starting with our captain, Josh Cunningham, to all the guys returning off last year’s team and the new guys that looked at all (the fans) and what we have at Dayton and said, ‘I want to sign up for that. I want to be a part of what Dayton has got going on.’ ”

» FALL TEAM PREVIEWS: Men’s soccerWomen’s soccerVolleyballCross country

Green gave her first public comment since her team returned from a trip to Italy on Aug. 15. She said the trip will jump start the season, which begins officially Nov. 9 with a home game against Colgate.

“What we got to experience was absolutely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Green said. “(The players) can tell you a ton of stories, and the things we all saw, you can’t really put it into words. We had a great time over there. We really developed our team bonding off the floor, and on the floor, we saw a lot. We played three competitive games, and we won all three.

“Over there, they don’t call fouls, so we had to fight for every single point, every single defensive stop. I’m really proud of this group on stage because they showed a lot of fight. Yeah, our offense was sloppy, and yeah a lot of other things were sloppy, but what we saw was toughness, grit and resiliency.”

NOTES: Grant announced the addition of a new graduate assistant coach: Sean Damaska, who played football for four seasons (2012-15) at Indiana and basketball for one season (2016-17) at Northern Illinois. … Former Dayton walk-on guard Joey Gruden will start his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Louisville. He accepted a job on Chris Mack’s staff earlier this summer.

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