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Published: Sunday, December 17, 2017 @ 2:23 PM
Updated: Monday, December 18, 2017 @ 10:56 PM
After Saturday’s thrilling overtime win over Georgia State at UD Arena, the Dayton Flyers face St. Mary’s on Tuesday night in Moraga, Calif.
The Voice of the Flyers on WHIO Radio, Larry Hansgen, is traveling with the team and providing a behind-the-scenes look at the trip.
7:25 p.m., Monday
Today was a full squad practice day, as the Flyers took the winding roads out of Walnut Creek, Calif. to the campus of Saint Mary’s College in Moraga. I remembered the isolated setting from a Flyer football game vs. the Gaels in 2001 (SMC has since dropped the sport). As Flyer coaches were preparing for that matchup watching tape, they saw deer run across the field during a home game.
The Gaels have been, along with Gonzaga, a force in the West Coast Conference in recent years, and frequently showing up in the Top 25 polls This week they were among teams also receiving votes in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll. A lot of this success has been due to an influx of players from Australia. Notable alums Paddy Mills and Matthew Dellavadova are in the NBA, and the current roster features six players from Down Under, including 6-foot-11 senior center Jock Londale.
The Flyers did not practice “full go” today, but rather did some situational half-court offensive and defensive work. Coach Anthony Grant emphasized moving the ball quickly, before the defense can recover, telling his players to count “one one thousand” in their heads and making a pass in that amount of time.
Xyerius Williams practiced at full speed. After playing 13 minutes against Georgia State, it is hoped he can play between 15 and 20 minutes on Tuesday, provided they are productive ones. Based upon the practice lineups, look for the same starters that we saw on Saturday: Josh Cunningham, Darrell Davis, Jordan Davis, Trey Landers and John Crosby.
The game site will be the second smallest in which the Flyers will play this year. Only LaSalle’s Tom Gola Arena (3,400) seats less than the McKeon Center (3,500). Nevertheless, a cross country trip and a game against a top 40 team on their court stacks the odds against Dayton. A loss could be expected, but a win would be a huge upset and confidence builder.
The team is having a dinner out tonight at an upscale steak house, and then Tuesday will go over the final pieces of game prep.
12:22 a.m., Monday
A bumpy flight from Cincinnati to San Francisco was otherwise uneventful. Players dozed or watched movies on the back-of-the-seat media center on board. Halle Berry’s “Kidnapped” was a popular choice, but got mixed reviews. Coaches were already game planning for Saint Mary’s.
On the bus ride from the airport to the hotel the players went Old School, singing Roger’s, “I Want To Be Your Man.” I don’t even think they know of the Dayton connection. It was good to hear them enjoying themselves. After a disappointing performance in a loss to Penn and then finals week, the win over Georgia State was just what the doctor ordered.
I am sure there are Dayton fans who question the level of exuberance in a win over Georgia State, but I caution them to keep in mind the makeup of this team. Most of these guys, literally, can count the number of college wins in their career on just one hand. Every single one is big at this point.
»RELATED: Cunningham honored by Atlantic 10
As I was doing some prep work on the plane, I looked back at last year’s stats. In every game but one, Dayton was led in scoring by one of the now graduated seniors. The only exception was a win over VMI in which Sam Miller led the team in scoring with 15.
After driving across the Bay Bridge and seeing Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge off to our left, we arrived at our destination north and east of Oakland in Walnut Creek, Calif.. We are staying at the Renaissance Club Sport, which in addition to a pool and workout room, has a full basketball court. Those players who saw no or little action against Georgia State had a workout, and got up some shots. It was a chance for Josh Cunningham and Darrell Davis to get off their feet after playing 43 and 44 minutes respectively.
8:45 a.m., Sunday
Despite the win, it was a quiet bus ride from the UD Arena to the Marriott near the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport on Saturday night. I think the players, coaches and this broadcaster were worn out after the 88-83 win over Georgia State .
Coach Anthony Grant talked after the game how happy he was for his players to get that win and the experience of closing out a victory in a crunch-time situation. He also talked about how that experience for the young guys cannot be replicated in practice. He was at a loss for words in describing the effort of Josh Cunningham, who recorded a career-high 29 points with 18 rebounds in 43 minutes .
Josh told me when we got off the bus and checked into the hotel that he had never been this tired. He had his first shot attempt in the game blocked, ending a school record streak of 22 in a row, but then began a new streak hitting his next eight shots. He made 13 of 17 free throws. He also took three charges. He had to be sore!
»PHOTOS: Dayton vs. Georgia State
This morning, Josh was the first player to show up at breakfast. The short trip to the airport terminal was uneventful. I spent time in the TSA line talking to freshman walk-on Cameron Greer, from suburban Chicago. He raved about his experience as a Flyer to date.
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 8:24 PM
Updated: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 8:24 PM
CINCINNATI — One of the Reds’ many problems while losing 18 of their first 22 games was defense, especially around second base.
Jose Peraza, back at shortstop as the heir to 2017 All-Star Zack Cozart after losing his second base position to Scooter Gennett last season, had committed just one error in his first 21 games, but he seemed uncomfortable. Grounders that fans were used to see being caught instead were leaking through to the outfield.
»RELATED: Garrett untouchable in bullpen
»RELATED: Reds hope win get them going
Recently, though, Peraza has shown signs that the more he plays, the more comfortable and confident he feels.
“I think he’s playing great,” Gennett said before Tuesday’s game against Atlanta. “He’s been playing that position with more confidence. After switching back and forth, I’m really impressed with how quickly he’s picked it back up again.”
Going into this season, Peraza had started 82 major league games at second back and 77 at shortstop.
Peraza, who turns only 24 on April 30, also was becoming more productive offensively. Going into Tuesday’s game, he had hit .292 since starting the season 0-for-12, pushing his overall average up to .247.
Interim manager Jim Riggleman credits Peraza’s defensive improvement to working with infield coach Freddie Benavides.
“He’s playing good,” Riggleman said of Peraza, acquired from the Dodgers as part of the December 2015 three-team trade in which third baseman Todd Frazier was sent to the White Sox. “He’s an extremely hard worker. I know Freddie’s had to tone him back a little bit. It’s a long season, but I think he’s played fine.”
Riggleman believes shortstops are at a disadvantage because they usually are compared to those who played at the highest level, such as Ozzie Smith or Omar Vizquel. In Cincinnati, shortstops follow in the footsteps of Roy McMillan and Leo Cardenas and Dave Concepcion and Barry Larkin.
“There’s such excellence that to call anybody average is an insult,” Riggleman said. “If you’re an average major league shortstop, you’re pretty good. He’s really swinging the bat and running the bases. He’s a baseball player.”
Cincinnati’s five-man bench allowed Riggleman to make a move that proved decisive in Monday’s 10-4 win over the Braves.
With the bases loaded and nobody out in the sixth inning of a tie game, he sent right-handed-hitting Phil Gosselin up to bat against left-hander Sam Freeman. Braves’ manager Brian Snitker replaced Freeman with right-hander Peter Moylan, prompting Riggleman to take down Gosselin and send up left-hander Jesse Winker, who delivered a tie-breaking, run-scoring single.
“The sixth inning is a little earlier than I’d like to do it, but with five players on the bench, it’s easier than with four,” Riggleman said. “With four players, it’s really tough, especially if one of them is a catcher. That makes it tough to maneuver for the rest of the game.”
Tucker Barnhart didn’t have anybody particular in mind as he banged a black Rawlings catcher’s mitt with a bat on the floor in front of his Great American Ball Park home clubhouse cubicle.
The Reds catcher simply was going through the process of breaking in a couple of new gloves. The process is lengthy.
“This one I started on in January and all through spring training,” he said, holding up a third black glove. “I’m hoping it’ll last me close to two years. Rawlings has pretty good leather.”
That means the new gloves might not see the field until 2019.
Barnhart uses a leather conditioner to help with the breaking in process, which also includes him flexing the glove with his hands.
“It’s getting there,” he said.
Sal Romano’s right hand was sore on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after he speared Ozzie Albies’ sharp one-hopper with his bare hand and threw him out at first.
Romano’s approach is not recommended.
“We literally talk about it in spring training,” Riggleman said. “The thing is, with the way shifts are, if you let it go, there’s probably going to be a middle infielder there, but its competition. It’s instinct. What you don’t want to have happen is he doesn’t get all of it and it dribbles off into no-man’s land.”
Trading Kevins: Before Tuesday’s game, the Reds reinstated right-hander Kevin Schackelford from the 10-day disabled list and designated right-hander Kevin Quackenbush for assignment, leaving the 40-man roster at 39. Schackelford was sidelined since March 29 with a right forearm strain. Quackenbush was 0-1 with an 11.00 earned-run average in 10 games.
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 11:14 PM
CINCINNATI — Second baseman Scooter Gennett picked the perfect time to locate his power stroke.
Gennett’s second home run of the game – and the season – helped the Reds overcome a bullpen meltdown and pull out a 9-7, 12-inning win over the Atlanta Braves before a crowd of 14,139 pizza-appreciating fans at Great American Ball Park.
The recently reliable Reds bullpen faltered mightily in Tuesday’s game against the Braves, but Joey Votto walked to lead off the 12th andset up Gennett’s first career walkoff home run, adding to a night of firsts for him. Earlier, he contributed what he said was his first major league suicide squeeze.
“Not many guys have a game where they have a suicide squeeze and two home runs,” interim manager Jim Riggleman observed.
»RELATED: Garrett untouchable in bullpen
»RELATED: Reds hope win get them going
Left-hander Amir Garrett and right-hander Raisel Iglesias teamed up to blow a ninth-inning, four-run lead, but Jared Hughes (1-2) pitched 2 2-3 innings of scoreless relief to get his first win as a Red.
The Braves’ rally started with first baseman Freddie Freeman’s second homer of the game. Center fielder Ender Inciarte capped the comeback with a two-run infield single on a blistering one-hopper that Gennett couldn’t shorthop, handing Iglesias his first blown save in four opportunities this season.
“It’s the least I could do after messing that one play up,” Gennett said. “That’s a situation where I’m trying to get one up and out over the plate. For a second, I thought it wasn’t going to go out. I thought (right fielder Nick) Markakis was going to climb the wall.”
The game was the fifth of the young season in which Atlanta overcame a deficit in the eighth inning or later.
“You had a bad feeling once Atlanta came back,” Riggleman said. “I give our guys tremendous credit. This is a game of heartbreak sometimes, and it looked like it was going to be one of those nights for us.”
The bullpen had compiled a combined 2.81 earned-run average over the previous 10 games before Tuesday’s collapse.
The Braves comeback cost Tyler Mahle his second win of the season. Mahle, in his fifth start of the season and ninth of his career, turned in six no-hit innings against the team that went into the game leading the National League in scoring.
Mahle, who’s pitched two minor league no-hitters, was pretty sure he wasn’t going add one in the majors on Tuesday.
“It felt about the same, but I had more pitches,” he said. “I could’ve gone seven, but I don’t think I could’ve gone nine.”
That doesn’t mean wasn’t thinking about it.
“It’s always in the back of your mind a little bit,” he said.
The 23-year-old, whose previous single-game career high in strikeouts was seven, had 11 through six innings before Freeman launched a no-doubt home run deep into the right-field seats on Mahle’s 90thpitch to lead off the seventh inning. Markakis doubled and catcher Kurt Suzuki homered into the left field seats to knock Mahle out of the game.
Eleven strikeouts gets ticket holders free pizzas at local LaRosa’s.
Coupled with their 10-4 win on Monday, the Reds have back-to-back victories for the first time since beating Pittsburgh last Sept. 16-17, a span of 34 games, and allowed them to avoid posting the single-worst 23-game start in franchise history. They are 5-18, matching the 1931 and 1934 teams’ records through 23 games.
Tuesday’s followup was better for the Reds than the last time they logged a 10-4 win. That was on April 16 – also a Monday – in Milwaukee, which they followed with two 2-0 losses. Mahle started the second shutout loss.
Catcher Devin Mesoraco was scratched from manager Jim Riggleman’s original starting lineup after developing a stiff neck. Tucker Barnhart stepped in and delivered an RBI single in the seventh.
Mahle helped get Cincinnati’s scoring started in the three-run second inning. He came up with the bases loaded and one out and hit a chopper up the first base line that Freeman fielded cleanly, but Suzuki had to jump to catch Freeman’s thrown and he came down with his feet off the plate for a throwing error.
After a lengthy delay, Atlanta manager Brian Snitker put his hands to his ears, indicating he wanted a replay review, but crew chief Fieldin Culbreth denied the request, most likely because Snitker took too much time.
Billy Hamilton followed with one-hopper back to pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who dropped the ball and threw too late to get Hamilton at first while Barnhart crossed the plate. Jesse Winker’s sacrifice fly gave the Reds a 3-0 lead.
Votto and Gennett teamed up for their first home runs of the season with two outs in the fifth inning. Votto’s reached the first row of seats in left-center field, while Gennett’s line-hugger caromed off the right-field foul pole.
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 @ 9:50 AM
— Chalk one up for Jim Riggleman.
The interim manager of the Cincinnati Reds moved Scott Schebler up to the leadoff spot, and the offense promptly exploded for 10 runs in a victory over the Braves.
Schebler was a big part of it, going 2 fo 5 with three RBIs and three runs scored.
He hit the first Reds home run in a week and made Riggleman look pretty smart.
Not that I get the impression that was what the skipper was really going for:
“We’re 3-and-whatever we are,” Riggleman said before the game. “We’ve got to try anything.”
Sometimes managerial magic is interchangeable with luck, and I think we can all agree “anything” is better than the first three weeks of the season for the Reds.
Riggleman also sounds committed to batting Billy Hamilton ninth until he starts to look like a real major-league hitter, so I guess we can rule out the second coming of Dusty Baker here (old-school baseball man who insists on speed at the top of the lineup regardless of on-base percentage).
It is amazing how quickly this became a put-up-or-ship-out season for Hamilton, who apparently could have been traded in December and now may have a lot less value after a bad spring and worse start to the regular season.
Sal Romano pitched six good innings, striking out five and allowing only one earned run, to get his first win of the season.
Sports Today RT: @marcushartman sorts out reactions to the firing of Bryan Price, locals make mark on @OhioStateFB in spring, thoughts on the @Bengals schedule and more https://t.co/HfzMonxLrB pic.twitter.com/ObosrqzrIS— daytonsports (@daytonsports) April 20, 2018
More good news: Eugenio Suarez should be back in a Reds uniform soon. The third baseman is scheduled to play in Triple-A for Louisville tonight on a rehab assignment for his fractured thumb.
It’s probably too late to salvage a .500 record this season, but the Reds offense should look a heck of a lot better with Suarez and Schebler back in the lineup.
At least management should still get a chance to sort out which of the guys in the majors deserve to be in Cincinnati long term and who can be moved out to make room for youngsters moving up in the improved farm system.
There was some bad news, though.
Hunter Greene was knocked around as the Dayton Dragons lost their third straight game.
The Reds’ most-recent first-round pick took his first loss of the season after failing to get out of the first inning.
He allowed seven runs, including a grand slam, and recorded only two outs.
Greene walked three and gave up four hits.
For what it’s worth, three of the runs charged to Greene scored with Austin Orewiler on the mound in relief.
I mention that because Greene showed a knack for getting out of trouble in his first two starts.
If you’re keeping score, he’s gone from great to average to pretty bad in three times out for Dayton.
PREVIOUSLY: Greene battles elements in second start
Bumps in the road were always to be expected, of course, especially for such a young fella.
It will be interesting to see how he bounces back and how quickly he can develop a game plan for hitters who are willing to wait for his fastball and can lay off his breaking stuff.
The Dragons are the definition of streaky so far, having lost three in a row to start the season, won nine and now lost three more in a row…
Dayton Flyers Head Coach @Shauna_Green in the spotlight in this week’s “Stay Right There” podcast. Check it out and make sure you like us and leave a review. @UDWomensBball @whiotv @daytonsports https://t.co/qKTytLiPZD— Mike Hartsock (@MHartsockWHIO) April 24, 2018
Dayton Flyers basketball made news Monday, too, as one player announced he is joining up and another announced where he is going next.
Frank Policelli, a 6-foot-8 forward from Long Island, will be eligible to help Anthony Grant’s team this fall after verbally committed Monday.
He is a three-star top 300 recruit in the 2018 class who played AAU ball with current Flyer Obadiah Toppin.
Meanwhile, Xeyrius Williams revealed he plans to continue his college basketball career at Akron.
The former Wayne High School star was a starter two seasons ago but opted to transfer after an injury-plagued junior season.
At 6-9 with the ability to shoot the three, he could be a force in the MAC -- but not until 2019-20.
Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 5:02 PM
DAYTON — Former Dayton Flyers forward Xeyrius Williams will play his final season of college basketball at the University of Akron.
The Wayne High School graduate Williams announced his decision Monday. He will have to sit out the 2018-19 season and will finish his career with the Zips in the 2019-20 season. In posts to Twitter and Instagram, Williams thanked the Dayton fans who watched him play the last three seasons.
“You guys have been there through the ups and downs,” Williams wrote. “I also want to thank all the people, managers, coaches and especially my teammates/brothers who I had the opportunity to play alongside. You guys have all influenced my life in a positive way, and I’ll always cherish the brotherhood and the memories we made as a team.”
Williams also visited Kent State, according to his Instagram account.
Thank You Flyer Fans, I just want to take the time to thank all the Dayton fans. You guys have been there through the ups and downs. I also want to thank all the people, managers, coaches and especially my teammates/brothers, who I had the opportunity to play alongside. You guys have all influenced my life in a positive way and I’ll always cherish the brotherhood And the memories we made together as a team. Also I want to thank the coaches who recruited me this second go around. After strong consideration and prayer this was a tough decision. I’m choosing to leave Dayton and proceed with my academic and athletic career at The University of Akron #GoZips #PaybackSZN
Williams announced March 13 he was leaving Dayton. He was one of five underclassmen to leave the program. He appeared in 18 games last season, averaging 5.0 points and 3.1 rebounds as the Flyers finished 14-17. He had a breakout year as a sophomore, averaging 8.2 points and 4.8 rebounds.
» RELATED: Josh Cunningham named Dayton’s MVP
The season did not go as planned. Williams started the season in the starting lineup and played 34-plus minutes in each of the first four games, averaging 11.3 points. Then he missed the next five games with a back injury.