Gary McCans, the University of Dayton ticket director, has never seen the passion of Flyer fans waver through his 40-plus years on the job.
Not that it hasn’t been tested at times, though.
During two seasons under coach Jim O’Brien in the early 1990s, UD won a combined 10 games. But even during the program’s nadir, the demand for tickets remained high.
“The Jim O’Brien years were the most amazing,” McCans said. “They continued to come out. And we had some years where we’re getting three and four victories a year. You go, ‘Why are they showing up?’
“They just were not going to give up on the Dayton Flyers. They were going to support them to the end.”
The UD basketball program has finished in the top 35 nationally in attendance every year since UD Arena opened in 1969-70, and the Flyers reached a milestone in a 75-65 win over Charlotte on Wednesday by registering their 200th straight home game with at least 11,000 fans (12,184 seats were filled).
The last time the Flyers drew under 11,000 was when 10,745 showed up for a win over Marquette on Nov. 28, 1998.
To McCans, the consistent crowds are evidence UD devotion has been passed down through generations.
“There’s a picture in the program tonight of a dad with his little girl on his shoulders, and he said, ‘I started coming with my parents back in the Fieldhouse days, and I wanted to make sure (it was the same for) my daughter,” McCans said. “That’s the Dayton community and Dayton fans.”
Picking up the slack: The Flyers had to try to win a game with their most indispensable player spending most of the night on the bench.
Point guard Kevin Dillard played just 17 minutes. He had 13 points, but his assist-turnover ratio took a hit after notching one assist while losing the ball four times.
“We really played, I thought, without Kevin the whole game and had some guys really step up in his absence,” UD coach Archie Miller said.
One who answered the call was Devin Oliver, a sophomore wing. He made two 3-pointers and had a team-high eight points in the first half and finished with 14 off the bench.
Dillard hit the court hard after being intentionally fouled by Charlotte forward Victor Nickerson on a layup.
The 6-foot junior bounced right back up, though, as if nothing had happened.
“This time of year, you can’t get hurt,” he said. “You have to shake it off, get treatment (for the injury) and come back the next day.”
Told he looked to be limping slightly outside the locker room afterward, Dillard said, “No, I’m good.”
Asked if he’d admit to an injury if he had one, he laughed and said, “No, I wouldn’t.”
Still cold: UD senior guard Paul Williams took a 5-for-39 shooting slump into the game and started 0-for-4 before hitting a 3-pointer at 6:48 of the first half.
He finished 2-for-10, but he had a flawless floor game: eight assists and no turnovers in 30 minutes.
Missing player: Charlotte sophomore wing DeMario Mayfield missed the game while serving a one-game suspension for a team violation. He was averaging 10.7 points and 6.8 rebounds.