Grant proud of consistent effort by Flyers

Published: Saturday, November 04, 2017 @ 10:24 PM

WATCH: Dayton's new pregame introductions

Dayton Flyers coach Anthony Grant’s family — his wife Chris and three of his children — sat a couple rows behind the bench on Saturday at UD Arena. Chris applauded until the last player had left the court after a 79-61 victory against Ohio Dominican in an exhibition game.

This was Grant’s first game as UD coach. It won’t count on his record, but it meant a lot to him.

“Let me open up by saying it’s awesome to be back in the arena,” Grant said in his postgame press conference. “Thirty years ago as a player and to see it come full circle and have a chance to walk out of the tunnel as a head coach, I want to thank our administration, Neil Sullivan and Dr. (Eric) Spina, for the opportunity.”

RELATED: UD shows off arena improvements

Grant then praised the renovated UD Arena, which fans saw for the first time. Phase one of the three-year, $72 million project ended just in time for the season to start.

“The arena’s awesome,” Grant said. “It’s beautiful. I want to thank (UD Arena Director) Scott DeBolt and his staff for the great job they did getting the place ready for us to be able to showcase it today for our fans and loyal supporters. It’s awesome to be able to come out and play in front of our fans in a great arena.”

Anthony Grant: Postgame press conference after exhibition game

The Flyers led 37-28 at halftime and opened the second half on a 9-2 run. Josh Cunningham led Dayton with 22 points. Xeyrius Williams had 15 rebounds. Darrell Davis scored 14. Matej Svoboda scored 13.

The Flyers shot 47.8 percent from the field and held Ohio Dominican, a Division II team, to 33.3 percent.

“I was really proud of the effort our guys gave,” Grant said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys out there. It was there first chance of getting out there in front of a crowd. It was the first opportunity to play a game. Tonight, for the most part, we had really consistent effort. The thing I told them before the game is what we wanted to see was continued improvement. Continue to get better in the things we worked on from an offensive and defensive standpoint. For the most part, we were able to do that. We were able to play through some adversity with foul trouble and maybe a few turnovers that were untimely. I thought we played through some positive runs that can cause distraction for a young team when you think you’ve built a little bit of a lead and you think it’s easy.”

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Oklahoma basketball: Sooners’ vital signs weaken with performance against Kansas

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 8:00 PM

If you thought the start was bad for Oklahoma Monday night at No. 8 Kansas, it was nothing compared to finish. The Sooners, who are on track for a late-season implosion the likes of which they’ve never seen, fell 104-74 to the Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse.

For those keeping score — and the NCAA Tournament selection committee is — that’s nine losses in the last 11 games. This one — the most-lopsided of the season — dropped Oklahoma to 16-11 overall and 6-9 in the Big 12.

It’s hard to fathom this is the same team that was in contention for a No. 1 seed in NCAA Tournament and viewed as possible Big 12 title contender. Both seemed possible when Oklahoma knocked off Kansas, 85-80, at Lloyd Noble Center on Jan. 23. But Oklahoma has dropped six of seven since.

That tight grip freshman Trae Young seemed to have on every national player of the year award loosens with every struggling performance.

Kansas (22-6, 11-4) held Young to 11 points — his lowest scoring output of the season. Young went 3 for 13 from the field and 1 for 5 from 3-point range. Over the last four games, Young is shooting 15.6 percent from 3-point range (5 for 32). The freshman did have 9 assists against 5 turnovers.

Kam McGusty scored a season-high 22 points and center Jamuni McNeace finished with 18 points. Both started Monday night.

Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger shuffled his starting lineup, moving McGusty, McNeace and sophomore forward Kristian Doolittle into the starting lineup in place of senior center Khadeem Lattin, freshman forward Brady Manek and junior guard Rashard Odomes.

Offensively, there was a spark.

Defensively, the Sooners were as listless as they’ve looked all season. Kansas scored at will. Devonte’ Graham scored 23 points and Malik Newman added 20. The tandem was a combined 9 for 17 from 3-point range.

All five of Kansas’ starters finished in double-digits and the Jayhawks shot 60.9 percent (39 for 64) as a team. The Jayhawks connected on 16 of 29 3-point attempts.

“We’ve got to do better defensively. It always starts there. You’ve got to give credit to the other, but we have to guard them better,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger told the Sooners Sports Radio Network following the game.

“We’ve never been a team that’s been genuine about that. Earlier in the year, we were making shots and we never felt like we had to get shots. When we’re not making shots, it becomes more obvious. We’ve got to guard better … Across the board, we’ve got to do better.”

Sooners are in critical condition

There was no crime in losing to Kansas. Oklahoma hasn’t won at Allen Fieldhouse since 1993 and their loss Monday stretched their losing streak there to 16 games.

Few thought that string would end on Monday. But the current overall losing streak ripped off any facade the Sooners created in December and January. Teams are supposed to get better throughout the season.

There have been no major injuries this season but Oklahoma is scoring and defending worse than it has all season. Monday night, the Sooners fell behind 10-0 in opening minutes and never got any closer than 7 points the rest of the way.

The last time Oklahoma led in a game was with 8 minutes, 50 seconds left in the Feb. 13 loss at Texas Tech. That’s now nearly 89 minutes of basketball games where Oklahoma has either been tied or trailed.

It’s a horrendous look when all teams are polishing their NCAA Tournament résumés.

Oklahoma returns home to face Kansas State on Saturday. It’s one of three regular-season games left. The Sooners travel to sizzling Baylor on Feb. 27 and close the regular season at home against Iowa State on March 2. Even Kruger admits all of them are critical.

“It’s a sprint at this point. We’ve got three games left in 12 days,” he said. “We have to approach every one of them like it’s a game we have to have for a postseason opportunity. No other approach can be healthy.”

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Athlon Sports: Mike Krzyzewski, David Cutcliffe form best ACC coaching duo for sixth straight year

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 3:43 PM

For the sixth year in a row, Athlon Sports listed Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski and football coach David Cutcliffe as the best duo in the ACC.

Here’s a snippet from the article:

Cutcliffe guided the Blue Devils back to a bowl game after a one-year hiatus. In the past five seasons, he is 48–27 with four bowl trips — unprecedented success in the modern era of Duke football. Krzyzewski is one of the most successful coaches in the history of college basketball. He has the top three players in the 2018 recruiting class either signed or committed to play for the Blue Devils next season.

Of course, Coach K has more to do with this than Cutcliffe, but the Duke football program is holding its own.

Bottom line: it’s really hard to excel on the hardwood and the gridiron. Considering how dominant the basketball team is and how consistent the football team is, Blue Devils fans have it pretty good these days.



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Kansas is peaking — just in time for a run at the Big 12 title and beyond

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 7:33 PM

LAWRENCE, Kan. — The best teams in college basketball are playing their best… right about now. 

Conference tournaments and the postseason is lurking around the corner. Berths and seeding in the NCAA Tournament are on the line, as are conference bragging rights.

Right now, No. 8 Kansas looks like one of the best teams in college basketball after a 104-74 beatdown of Oklahoma in The Phog.

How Kansas has started peaking down the stretch

Monday night was a showcase of everything the Jayhawks are capable of doing when they’re at their best.

The 74 points Oklahoma scored was 13.5 below their average for the year. Kansas won the rebounding battle by a plus-13 margin, the biggest in Big 12 play for the Jayhawks.

Kansas stroked 16 3-pointers through the net while 22 of its 39 field goals were assisted.

The Jayhawks are riding a three-game winning streak since losing at Baylor — a streak that’s pushed Kansas back in control of its own destiny to its 14th-straight Big 12 title.

That momentum will be put to the test in Lubbock on Saturday when Kansas takes on Texas Tech.

“We’re a better basketball team than we were three weeks ago,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said. “I do believe that, and certainly we’re going to have to be really good on Saturday.”

Monday’s win was more than just a valuable checkmark — the 30-point blowout snapped a streak of three-straight wins by single digits.

Through 15 games in Big 12 play, Kansas has had 10 conference games decided by seven points or less.

“We haven’t won a game like this in a while,” Jayhawks senior point guard Devonte’ Graham said, “just seeing everybody playing and having fun.”

Silvio De Sousa is finally the reinforcement Kansas needed

The mid-season addition to Kansas’ roster, Silvio De Sousa had struggled since first appearing against Kansas State on Jan. 13.

But on Monday night against the Sooners’ porous defense, De Sousa finally found his rhythm.

The freshman forward played a season-high 13 minutes — his previous high was just seven — and scored 10 points on 3-of-3 shooting including an alley-oop dunk.

“I told him in the huddle that we needed some big minutes out of him,” Graham said. “I’m happy for him because it’s hard to come in as a freshman in the middle of the season and learn as much as he learned as fast as he learned it.”

Depth has been a concern for Kansas all season, so De Sousa’s coming out party was perfectly timed for a late-season push.

“It’s a plus,” Graham said. “We can get (Udoka Azubuike) some minutes off and keep our bench rotating in. We can all be out there and be fresh.”

Self was also pleased with De Sousa’s outing against the Sooners.

Can the Jayhawks finish?

A 13-year conference title streak and a shot a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament may very well be on the line in Lubbock on Saturday.

Surely a 30-point blowout can create some positive vibes on the road trip south…

“We definitely can take this game and use that momentum,” Graham said. “We’ve got a big one coming up Saturday, so we want to take that momentum and keep it rolling.”

Bracket Matrix listed Kansas as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament going into Big Monday.

Don’t expect the Jayhawks to be focused on anything down the road other than the Red Raiders — March Madness might as well exist in another dimension.

“We don’t care about two weeks from now,” Self said. “We care about Saturday. We’ll play to win on Saturday. Then we’ll play to win on Monday, then on the next Saturday.”

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Merriweather disappointed in effort as Vikings whip lethargic Raiders

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 8:18 PM

            Wright State senior Lexi Smith puts up a shot Monday night against Cleveland State. ALLISON RODRIGUEZ/CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Wright State senior Lexi Smith puts up a shot Monday night against Cleveland State. ALLISON RODRIGUEZ/CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Wright State women’s basketball coach Katrina Merriweather said she was stunned by what she saw Monday night, and she wasn’t looking at the scoreboard, although she wasn’t pleased by what she saw there either.

Cleveland State came to the Nutter Center on Monday and jumped the lethargic Raiders from the outset, leading by as many as 19 before registering a 70-63 victory.

“It’s pretty disappointing to come out for our last home game and lack intensity, urgency,” Merriweather said. “And to be quite honest, it’s very unexpected. We clearly have some stuff to get together.”

The loss snapped WSU’s three-game winning streak and dropped the Raiders to 19-9 overall and 10-6 in the Horizon League. It also eliminated any hope Wright State had of earning the No. 2 seed for the conference tournament.

CSU (19-9, 11-6) got 31 points from Ashanti Abshaw, one shy of her career high, while Khayla Livingston added 17 and Olivia Voskuhl scored 15.

“We have to show up and defend players we know are talented offensively and then take advantage of them defensively, and we didn’t do either one,” Merriweather said. “Sometimes I think you get a little spoiled when you win a lot. And you forget why you win a lot. It’s because you play hard, and you play together and we’re tough. And that’s not what we were today.”

Chelsea Welch led the Raiders with 18 points and helped fuel a late rally that saw the WSU slice a 19-point deficit to four in the final minute before the Vikings sealed the game at the free throw line.

Lexi Smith added 13 points to top 1,000 for her career, and Emily Vogelpohl scored 12.

WSU can finish anywhere from the No. 3 seed to No. 6 for the conference tournament, which means they’ll begin play on Sunday, March 2, and need to win three games in three days to claim a championship.

The Raiders could have remained in the running for a No. 2 with a win against CSU.

“The one thing I said to them in there was ‘We’re still playing for something, even though you don’t feel like it,’” Merriweather said. “We have to refocus and make it clear that we’re still playing for something. And it’s to represent our university, our athletic department, our program with what we stand for — defense, rebounding and toughness. If we did that, I couldn’t care what the score was.

“So that’s the problem,” she continued. “What our identity is, that’s not what we played like today. I’m literally stunned at us not doing that.”

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