College basketball: 7 observations from Flyers’ 2-0 start

Dayton hosts Nebraska Omaha at 7 p.m. Tuesday

Obi Toppin is good. The Dayton Flyers rarely miss inside the 3-point line. Fans fill UD Arena no matter the opponent.

Those are all things everyone knew before this season began Nov. 9. Two games into the season, they are truer than ever. Toppin has scored 50 points, the Flyers lead the nation in 2-point accuracy (71.4 percent) and Dayton has sold every ticket to the first two games.

» PHOTOS: Game 1Game 2

However, the first two of 31 regular-season games have taught us something. Here are seven observations about the Flyers entering their third game at 7 p.m. Tuesday against Nebraska Omaha (2-2) at UD Arena. It’s the final game for the team before the Maui Invitational (Nov. 25-27).

1. The starting lineup for the second game might remain the starting lineup for a while. Trey Landers replaced Chase Johnson in the lineup in the 90-61 victory against Charleston Southern on Saturday, joining Toppin, Jalen Crutcher and Ryan Mikesell — three players who started last season — and Rodney Chatman.

That's the same group Grant had on the court in the final minutes of a close game against Indiana State in the opener.

“Trey gives us a guy as a senior, as an experienced guy with his voice and his presence on the floor,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said Saturday, “that I felt it would be a benefit to that group for him to start the game.”

2. Jhery Matos was the last scholarship player to see action in the first two games, entering both with about eight minutes left in the first half. He’s playing 11 minutes per game, the fewest of the nine available players. Even if that remains his role this season, it will be an important role. Grant said everyone in the rotation plays an important role.

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“We need everybody for us to become what we’re capable of becoming,” Grant said. “We have to get those guys understanding what they bring and how they can impact what we do on both ends of the floor. Everyone’s critical. We had nine guys in double-figure minutes (Saturday). It’s a process for guys understanding the rotations and when they’re coming into a game and what we’re asking them provide. That’s not just something you automatically fall into two games into the season. It’s a different look for everyone right now.”

3. Those reserves can make an impact without scoring. Dwayne Cohill had no points but five assists and no turnovers against Charleston Southern.

4. Jordy Tshimanga’s status remains up in the air. The 6-foot-11 center has been sidelined since October with a knee issue.

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“Our medical staff is in complete control of that in terms of when he’s ready,” Grant said, “and Jordy knows his body. We’re not going to rush anything with him. His health is our primary concern, so we’re going to make sure when he is ready to go, that’s when he’ll be ready to go. We like the direction he’s headed. I wish I could give you a timetable, but I don’t know. We’ll take his best interests at heart before we get him out there.”

5. Tshimanga’s teammates remain optimistic they’ll get to play with him sooner rather than later.

“I can’t wait for Jordy to get out there,” forward Obi Toppin said. “He’ll be back soon.”

6. Dayton was able to spread the minutes in the second game. That was a rare luxury last season with the short bench and should help with the third game coming three days later.

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“That was good,” Grant said. “We were able to build the lead, and at the end of the game, we had some different guys out there and different combinations. The last seven minutes, we had four guards out there and maybe Trey was the biggest guy on the floor at times. We were able to get some guys rest, and I thought at the end of the game, those guys were disciplined enough to finish the game the right way, so it was good to see.”

7. Rodney Chatman has had the biggest impact of the newcomers and has more points (26) than two other transfers, Ibi Watson and Johnson, combined (19). Chatman has been Dayton's best 3-point shooter (5 of 10), leads the team with five steals and is dueling Crutcher for the team lead in assists. Crutcher has 13. Chatman has 12.

“It’s still early,” Chatman said Saturday. “It’s only our second game. We’re still trying to figure each other out and building chemistry.”


TUESDAY’S GAME

Nebraska Omaha at Dayton, 7 p.m., Spectrum News 1, 95.7 and 1290 WHIO

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