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@GTMBK Non-Conference Preview - Dayton

Oct. 31, 2014

THE FLATS – Each week up until the beginning of basketball season, Ramblinwreck.com takes a look at an opponent on Georgia Tech’s non-conference schedule. This week, we look at Dayton, the second of Tech’s two road trips in the month of December.

Date: December 23, 2014
Location: Dayton, Ohio
Conference: Atlantic 10
Home arena: University of Dayton Arena (13,455)
2013-14 Record: 26-11 overall, 10-6 in the A-10 (T-5th place), 33rd in NCAA RPI
Post-Season: NCAA Elite Eight, lost to Florida 62-52
NCAA Championship Appearances: 15 (last in 2014)
All-time series record: Dayton leads 3-0 (First meeting 12/17/1977)
Head coach: Archie Miller (entering 4th season, 63-38)
Starters returning/lost: 2/3
Top scorer returning: Jordan Sibert (12.2)
Top rebounder returning: Dyshawn Pierre (5.5)

Quick preview for 2014-15

After an improbable postseason run to the NCAA’s Elite Eight, head coach Archie Miller’s next task is to turn his upstart Cinderella into a consistent winner. After all, the Flyers haven’t made back to back trips to the Big Dance since 1985. Dayton returns two impactful starters from last year’s squad in shooting guard Jordan Sibert and versatile forward Dyshawn Pierre. Sibert, a redshirt senior from Cincinnati, led the Flyers in scoring in just his first season at Dayton after transferring from Ohio State. Pierre, a junior from Ontario, averaged 12.5 points per game during the NCAA Tournament and was recognized as a member of the All-South region team. Beyond Sibert and Pierre the Flyers return complementary role players Scoochie Smith, Jalen Robinson and Devon Scott. Smith, an experienced sophomore, will chair the Flyers backcourt in 2014-15 while junior forwards Robinson and Scott will anchor Dayton’s post presence.

Quick recap of 2013-14

Last year the Dayton Flyers were the nation’s darlings in the NCAA Tournament. Fourth-year head coach Archie Miller led Dayton to just its third Elite Eight in program history and first in the last 30 years. After finishing with 22 regular season wins, the Flyers fell in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 conference tournament to eventual champion St. Joseph’s. As a result the Flyers had to sweat out an at-large bid to the Big Dance, but slipped into the field as an 11th seed. It didn’t take Dayton long to seize the opportunity. The Flyers downed mighty in-state rival Ohio State in a 60-59 nail-biter to give Dayton its first NCAA tournament victory since 2009. Dayton’s run continued past two more Power-5 opponents in Syracuse and Stanford sending the Flyers soaring into the South Regional Final. In the national quarterfinal, top-ranked Florida proved to be too much for the Cinderella Flyers, ending Dayton’s spectacular run, 62-52.

Greatest program accomplishment

1967 National Runner-Up – Dayton’s Elite Eight run this past March provided one of the best storylines of the entire tournament. But for the Flyers, the quarterfinal appearance is hardly the pinnacle of Dayton basketball. In 1967 head coach Don Donoher guided the Flyers to their best postseason run in school history. In round one the Flyers scraped past Western Kentucky, 69-67, in overtime after rallying from a 10-point halftime deficit. Six days later the Flyers nearly flipped the script after surrendering an 11-point halftime lead to 8th-ranked Tennessee, but Coach Donoher’s team hung on for a 53-52 upset win. In the Elite Eight, the Flyers needed overtime yet again to put away the Virginia Tech Hokies, 71-66, and reach their first and only Final Four in program history. The Flyers arrived in Louisville, Ky., alongside perennial powers Houston, North Carolina and UCLA to decide the national championship. Dayton disposed of Dean Smith’s Tar Heels 76-62 by shooting 50 percent from the floor setting up a David and Goliath matchup against undefeated UCLA. The defining moment of Dayton’s magical run in 1967 was the national championship’s opening tip. Jumping for UCLA was three-time national player of the year Lew Alcindor (later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabaar). Meanwhile Dayton sent 6-foot-10 Dan Obravac to midcourt to challenge the Bruins 7-footer. Shockingly, and perhaps impossibly, Obravac launched above Alcindor’s 7-foot-5 wingspan and won the tip for the Flyers. The tip is said to be the only opening tip Alcindor lost in his entire college career. Although the Bruins won the game and title, 79-65, Obravac’s opening tip heroics remain one of the most iconic images in college basketball history.

Greatest player in program history

Don May (1965-1968) – Born in Dayton, two-time All-American forward Don May overshadows all other Flyers in Dayton basketball history. In his four-year career, May scored 1,980 points and pulled down 1,301 rebounds, both of which rank second all-time in Flyer record books. Yet what separates May from other Flyer greats is his unique blend of individual success and team success. In May’s four years, the Flyers reached the NCAA Tournament in three straight seasons and won the NIT title in 1968. He started on the Flyers 1967 national runner-up team and went toe to toe with UCLA’s Lew Alcindor (later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), outscoring the Bruins’ star in the national championship game. Following his collegiate career, May was drafted by the New York Knicks in 1968 and had a seven-year career in which he scored over 3,000 points. Since his playing days, May has been inducted into both the Dayton Athletics Hall of Fame and the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame.

Place to visit on campus or in the city

The Pine Club – Established in 1947, the Pine Club has been praised by USA Today as “One of the USA’s best Steakhouses.” Jim Sullivan opened the restaurant in 1947 after purchasing an old bar on Brown Street in Dayton, but later sold it in 1954 to Lloyd Meinzer who made significant renovations to expand the dining room and bar in 1957. But since Meinzer’s expansion project, the Pine Room hasn’t changed a bit and as a result was listed among the “World’s 10 Greatest Old Dining Establishments” by the New York Times. Present owner David Hulme has not only preserved the longstanding architecture, but his firm belief in the Pine Club experience hasn’t flinched in over 30 years. The restaurant doesn’t serve dessert, only takes cash and does not accept reservations – not even for the President of the United States. In fact, George H. W. Bush famously waited 40 minutes for a table in 1988. With nearly 70 years gone by, the Pine Club has stood the test of time and is a landmark in the city of Dayton.

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