UD notes: For Dayton Flyers freshmen, NCAA tournament is why they came

Center Steve McElvene will wear a new size-17 Kevin Durant model. He saved the pair for March Madness. Kendall Pollard and John Crosby also have new high-tops. The players want to look their best on the big stage.

For the four true freshmen who will suit up for the No. 7 seed Flyers (25-7), the chance to play in the NCAA Tournament at 12:15 p.m. Friday against No. 10 seed Syracuse (19-13) is why they came to Dayton. Dayton won three NCAA Tournament games while coach Archie Miller and his staff were recruiting Ryan Mikesell, Sam Miller, Xeyrius Williams and John Crosby and two more after they signed.

“It’s what you always dream of growing up,” Sam Miller said. “This is one of the things that was part of my college decision. I wanted to go somewhere I could play in the tournament. To already be a part of it is awesome.”

Mikesell and Williams remember watching Dayton beat Ohio State and Syracuse two years ago.

“I was in school in study hall (for the Ohio State game),” Mikesell said. “The Syracuse game, I was watching with my friends.”

The four freshmen have had an up-and-down season. They’ve all contributed to victories. They’ve all had long stretches on the bench.

The Wayne grad Williams appeared in one game in a five-game stretch in January and then found himself on the floor for the final moments of one of the biggest games of the season, the regular-season finale against Virginia Commonwealth.

“My parents and my high school coaches and the coaches here were all telling me to stay ready and keep my head up,” Williams said. “I was cheering for my teammates. When one goes down, I’m ready to be the next up.

Injury updates: Pollard, who has battled leg pain associated with a femur bruise, practiced Thursday and will play.

“I feel all right,” Pollard said. “I feel like everyone else in this locker room. No one is 100 percent, but we’ll be ready to play .”

Junior guard Charles Cooke, who was poked in the eye Saturday by St. Joseph’s DeAndre Bembry during the A-10 semifinals, said his eye was better.

“He got me pretty good,” Cooke said. “My eye is fine now. He didn’t get my cornea.”

Happy here: Dayton coach Archie Miller reiterated he’s “very, very comfortable” at Dayton when asked about his future Thursday. Reacting to a story about that quote on Twitter, his wife Morgan Miller wrote, “We Love DAYTON! End of Story!”

Ticket update: Syracuse and Middle Tennessee State did not sell their allotment of tickets, so UD invited fans to purchase tickets online in their sections Thursday.

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