Whirlwind week ends for Anthony Grant at first press conference

Dayton basketball coach Anthony Grant waits to speak at his introductory press conference on Saturday, April 1, 2017, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff
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Dayton basketball coach Anthony Grant waits to speak at his introductory press conference on Saturday, April 1, 2017, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

Anthony Grant looks as if he could still suit up for the Dayton Flyers. He’ll turn 51 in a few weeks. He left his playing career behind 30 years ago. But he has kept in shape.

That doesn’t mean he plans to search for an extra year of eligibility. He’s the new head coach. He won’t have time for pickup games anytime soon.

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“I work out,” Grant said with a laugh. “When I’m on the floor, I try to get involved as much as I can.”

UD introduced Grant in a press conference on the upper level of UD Arena on Saturday. The court where he will spend so much time next fall and winter was covered with a stage because the University of Dayton will inaugurate its new president, Eric F. Spina, on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, Grant got to tour his new office, which a week earlier had been occupied by Archie Miller, now the head coach at Indiana.

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“The Cronin Center, I’m really impressed,” Grant said. “What the university has been able to do is beyond my wildest expectations.”

Grant’s whirlwind week began the previous Saturday. He was an assistant coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder, which was leaving town to go to Houston for a three-game road trip. He heard the news of Miller leaving for Indiana. On Sunday, the Thunder played an afternoon game, and after that game he got his first call asking if he would be interested in the UD job.

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Then on Monday, Dayton Athletic Director Neil Sullivan called and asked him the same question. They talked again on Tuesday face to face in Orlando. On Thursday, he was officially hired. On Saturday, Grant flew to Dayton for the first time as the head coach of the Flyers.

“This is unbelievable for me,” Grant said. “I don’t have words to describe how excited I am to be here. Usually, you want to write down your thoughts and deliver a concise message. As I prepared to come here today for the press conference, I couldn’t begin to put it all together, so let me express my appreciation to Neil (Sullivan), Dr. Spina for giving me this opportunity. You guys were first class.

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“As an alum, I sit back and I always try to watch what’s going on with UD, if I can catch pieces of games or games or just watch the score. I’ve been extremely proud of what this program has been able to accomplish. I want to also congratulate Coach Miller and his staff for doing an outstanding job here. I told the players today when we met, as an alum I’m extremely proud of what they’ve been able to be a part of, and we need to not only meet that standard that’s been set but to go beyond that. I truly believe this place is special and we certainly can do that.”

Grant thanked his former UD teammates, Damon Goodwin and Dan Christie, for coming to the press conference. He had a big hug after he was done talking for his former coach, Don Donoher. Until the hiring of Grant, Donoher was the only UD coach in the modern era to have played for the Flyers.

Standing at the podium Saturday, Grant called it a surreal moment. He looked back to the game 34 years ago when he was a 17-year-old senior visiting UD for the first time and saw the Flyers play DePaul.

“The crowd was amazing,” Grant said. “It sold me right there. This is where I want to come if I can fool these guys into giving me a scholarship. This place, every single night that we laced them up, you guys inspired us to give our very best.”