By HAL McCOY
The Young & The Restless University of Dayton basketball team, under new coach Anthony Grant, is expected to find a few lumps of coal on the floor this season.
They began the season with the seventh fewest returning minutes from is returning players — experience at its lowest common denominator.
And they found their first lump Thursday night in Charleston, S.C. in the first round of the Gilden Charleston Classic.
They lost to Hofstra University, a small school out of Hempstead, N.Y. that plays in the Colonial Athletic Conference.
But in this narrow 72-69 defeat they found a pair of golden sneakers on the floor in 6-foot-10 red shirt freshman Kostas Antetokunmbo — hereafter known as The Gree Freak II.
His brother, Giannis, an NBA superstar for the Milwaukee Bucks, is known as The Greek Freak. So Kostas gets the ‘II’ designation.
In his collegiate debut last Friday against Ball State, Kostas encountered foul trouble and played only seven minutes and was non-factor in Dayton’s buzzer-beater win over Ball State, a winning shot by Josh Cunningham.
This time it was Cunningham who encountered foul miseries and played only seven minutes. But The Greek Freak II staged a personal coming out party in his second collegiate game.
The Flyers trailed Hofstra by 15 points early in the first half, 28-13, with nine minutes left in the half. With 6 ½ minutes left Cunningham, who scored 22 against Ball State, picked up his second foul and went to the bench.
The Greek Freak II arrived.
Playing with reckless abandon, Kostas was all over the floor — down on the floor scrambling for looses balls, above the floor swatting shots and hooking rebounds.
He energized the Flyers and when Xeyrius Williams hit a three during a 14-2 run UD was within two at 30-28 with two minutes left in the half.
From there the Flyers kept fighting uphill but couldn’t find the down slope.
Cunningham picked up his third foul early in the second half and his fourth came with 10 minutes left in the game and the Flyers behind, 59-51.
Once again it was Kostas to the rescue with his fire and brimstone style and the Flyers ignited again.
They stayed mostly within four or five points until senior Darrell Davis hit a three to tie the game, 68-68, the first time UD drew even since 2-2.
Davis then made one of two free throws with two minutes left, giving the Flyers their one and only lead of the game, 69-68.
They would not score again and even though Hofstra missed its last seven shots the Pride four of six free throws in the final 120 seconds to win it.
With the score 69-all, Davis missed a driving layup and Xeyrius Williams fouled trying to get the rebound. The Pride made two free throws for a 71-69 lead with 1:40 left.
UD’s Trey Landers missed a shot and Williams was called for an offensive foul on a fast break with 38 seconds left.
Hofstra made one of two free throws with 26 seconds left for a three-point lead. Williams missed a three-point attempt that would have tied it with six seconds left and then missed another trey try to tie it at the buzzer.
The Greek Freak, though, finished with 10 points and with a reach that would enabled him to change light bulbs in UD Arena without a ladder, added 10 rebounds and four blocked shots. He also had two assists and a steal.
A star is in the making. Darrell Davis hit for 20 but other than Kostas had little support. Cunningham played only 14 minutes and scored seven.
The Flyers defense had no answer for a pair of Hofstra wing men. Eli Pemberton scored a career-high 27 and Justin Wright-Foreman added 19 as that pair scored 46 of Hofstra’s 72.
The Flyers, 1-and-1, play Ohio University in Charleston Friday night after the Bobcats lost to Clemson in their first round game.