Kevin Dillard is the one player Dayton can’t do without, and proof of that can be found in his trophy case.
The senior point guard was named team MVP at the Flyers’ awards luncheon Sunday after sharing the honor last season with Chris Johnson. In his two years in the program, he also won the Old Spice Classic MVP and a pair of Blackburn-McCafferty plaques for twice being the top performer in Xavier victories.
“Thankfully, Kevin Dillard was here when we arrived. He’s given us a chance not only to win games, but compete with everyone on our schedule,” second-year UD coach Archie Miller said.
“It’s pretty evident when he plays well, we have a chance to do things. Hopefully, he’s got one big burst left.”
Dillard and the 12th-seeded Flyers (17-13) will play fifth-seeded Butler (24-7) at 2:30 p.m. Thursday in the first round of the Atlantic 10 tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. The winner meets fourth-seeded La Salle at 2:30 p.m. Friday.
Butler finished in a three-way tie for third at 11-5 in the league but lost out on a top-four seed and a first-round bye because of tie-breakers.
The other first-round games, all of which will be shown on NBC Sports Network, are No. 8 Richmond vs. No. 9 Charlotte at noon, No. 7 Xavier vs. No. 10 Saint Joseph’s at 6:30 and No. 6 UMass vs. No. 11 George Washington at 9 p.m.
The Flyers were defeated at George Washington, 81-80, in overtime on Saturday and would have been one of the four teams left out of the tourney if Fordham hadn’t upset St. Bonavanture. Losses by either Charlotte and Richmond also would have put UD in the field, but both won their regular-season finales.
“I didn’t know if I’d get to put on my Dayton uniform again, and now that I am, I’m going to make the most of it,” Dillard said after the luncheon. “It’s win or go home, and I don’t think anyone in this room wants to be done.”
Other Flyer award winners include: Khari Price, top defender; Devin Oliver, most improved player and top rebounder; Dyshawn Pierre, best freshman; Brian Vonderhaar, Rau spirit award and MacBeth scholar-athlete; and Vee Sanford, Uhl award for sportsmanship and character.
Dayton vs. Butler in A-10 tourney first round, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., 2:30 p.m., 95.7, 1290