Most University of Dayton basketball players were helped instantly by adopting first-year coach Archie Miller’s offensive system.
Chris Johnson, though, spent most of the season looking as if he were trying to learn a second language.
“Anytime you have new coaches and new offense, you’re always going to have struggles after three years,” he said. “But I’ve been doing a good job of listening to Archie and understanding how the offense and defense is being played. ... I’m getting a feel for it.”
The senior wing certainly showed that in a 75-65 win over Charlotte before 12,184 fans Wednesday, scoring 22 points for the second straight game, snatching nine rebounds, playing Poligrip defense and setting the tone for his teammates with his usual high intensity.
He’s averaged 17 points and 8.3 rebounds over his last six games.
“Tonight, he was everything to us. He was all of the above,” said point guard Kevin Dillard, who battled foul trouble while tallying 13 points and one assist in 17 minutes.
“He’s a great shooter, great rebounder, and right now he’s really giving us a big lift. When the team comes around and everybody starts clicking again, I feel like we’re going to be hard to deal with.”
Trailing by one with 7:25 to go, the Flyers put together a 12-4 spurt to take control. Johnson scored the last eight in the flurry on a 3-pointer, a stop-and-pop 12-footer as the shot clock was expiring and another 3-pointer.
With UD (16-9, 6-5 Atlantic 10) leading by one with 10:31 to go in the game, the 49ers’ Victor Nickerson was called for an intentional foul after clubbing Dillard in the head on his way to a layup. Nickerson and UD’s Matt Kavanaugh were whistled for a double technical foul in the aftermath.
Dillard made one of two foul shots for a two-point lead but he traveled on the possession. He then picked up his fourth foul for bumping Jamar Briscoe on a 3-point try. Charlotte (12-12, 4-7) took a three-point edge when Briscoe made all three free throws at 9:51 and Chris Braswell (27 points) scored inside.
Johnson tied it with a 3-pointer and it stayed close until the final four minutes.
“In the second half, I thought CJ really broke the game open with some senior-esque plays,” Miller said.
“He’s a warrior. He brings it every day. ... Some games he may not shoot as well as others, but the one guy you never have to ask for effort is him.”