Dayton Flyers coach Anthony Grant’s family — his wife Chris and three of his children — sat a couple rows behind the bench on Saturday at UD Arena. Chris applauded until the last player had left the court after a 79-61 victory against Ohio Dominican in an exhibition game.
This was Grant’s first game as UD coach. It won’t count on his record, but it meant a lot to him.
“Let me open up by saying it’s awesome to be back in the arena,” Grant said in his postgame press conference. “Thirty years ago as a player and to see it come full circle and have a chance to walk out of the tunnel as a head coach, I want to thank our administration, Neil Sullivan and Dr. (Eric) Spina, for the opportunity.”
Grant then praised the renovated UD Arena, which fans saw for the first time. Phase one of the three-year, $72 million project ended just in time for the season to start.
“The arena’s awesome,” Grant said. “It’s beautiful. I want to thank (UD Arena Director) Scott DeBolt and his staff for the great job they did getting the place ready for us to be able to showcase it today for our fans and loyal supporters. It’s awesome to be able to come out and play in front of our fans in a great arena.”
The Flyers led 37-28 at halftime and opened the second half on a 9-2 run. Josh Cunningham led Dayton with 22 points. Xeyrius Williams had 15 rebounds. Darrell Davis scored 14. Matej Svoboda scored 13.
The Flyers shot 47.8 percent from the field and held Ohio Dominican, a Division II team, to 33.3 percent.
“I was really proud of the effort our guys gave,” Grant said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys out there. It was there first chance of getting out there in front of a crowd. It was the first opportunity to play a game. Tonight, for the most part, we had really consistent effort. The thing I told them before the game is what we wanted to see was continued improvement. Continue to get better in the things we worked on from an offensive and defensive standpoint. For the most part, we were able to do that. We were able to play through some adversity with foul trouble and maybe a few turnovers that were untimely. I thought we played through some positive runs that can cause distraction for a young team when you think you’ve built a little bit of a lead and you think it’s easy.”