New UD football coach an emotional guy

By Hal McCoy

Trevor Andrews answered his phone, a call from University of Dayton athletic director Neil Sullivan.

“Are you ready to be head football coach at the University of Dayton?” Sullivan asked.

“Do you seriously have to ask me that?” said Andrews.

And on a cold, drizzly afternoon outside UD Arena, Andrews was introduced as only the third head football coach at Dayton since 1977.

He follows Mike Kelly and Rick Chamberlin and he played for both in the late 1990s, for head coach Kelly and for defensive coordinator Chamberlin.

He is a man’s man, but isn’t afraid to let his emotion stray publicly, as he did several times, coming close to tears during his acceptance speech.

Both Kelly and Chamberlin were in the Boesch Lounge and at one point Andrews said, voice cracking, “Coach Kelly. . .I love you, man. Coach Chamberlin. . .the same.”

His voice cracked between each word and he rubbed his eyes and said, “I never thought I’d do this (cry). I wasn’t nervous to come in here because of the family atmosphere we always have at UD.

“My emotions have taken over, but that’s just how proud I am of this place,” he said. “Those guys (Kelly, Chamberlin) are my roots.”

This is Andrews’ first head coaching job after 18 years as an assistant coach at William & Mary and the last four years as linebackers coach at Western Michigan.

Andrews, 47, was a three-time letterman for the Flyers as a defensive back as UD won three Pioneer Football League championships. The Flyers were 37-4 during his four seasons wearing a Dayton uniform.

Even though he had accepted the job, he didn’t grasp the full effect until he walked into retiring coach Chamberlin’s office, the office that will be his.

“My most surreal moment was when I came down and went through some logistical things,” he said. “I was taken into coach Chamberlin’s office and we had a moment there that I will never forget.

“Not a lot of words were said, but it was very meaningful to me (voice again cracking). A lot of words didn’t need to be said and I’ll never forget that moment. It was one of those things where, ‘OK, it’s real now and let’s get going.’”

Andrews is realistic enough to know the pressure is on because of the success both Kelly and Chamberlin had and the high expectations in the program.

He is following two legends.

“The reason I got into coaching was because of my experiences at UD,” he said. “Mike and Rick showed me the way and made me want to help young men have the kind of experience that I had playing college football.

“When I let myself think about it, I came to realize that coaching at the University of Dayton was my dream job.”

It no longer is a dream for the father of four and son of a life-long high school football coach, “Which means I’ve been on a football field since I was four-years-old.”

And the pressure?

“It is humbling because those are two guys I looked up to,” he said. “They helped me find my footing. The first time I went to the coach’s convention, coach Kelly took me around and introduced me to people. And I slept on the floor in his hotel room.”

Of following legends like Kelly and Chamberlin, Andrews said, “If you stop and think about that. . . well, I know what we have here and I know what is expected of this program. That’s what makes you want to come here, you want people who want that. You never want to settle for mediocrity.”

And the future?

“I’ll take little pieces I learns at William & Mary and Western Michigan and work to stay relevant and stay on top of the game, stay cutting edge” he said. “We don’t have to have all the bells and whistles. . .we don’t need to be in fads. We’re going to be sound and solid and we’re going to have fun with it.

“That’s the biggest thing for me. I want our guys to compete like crazy and work to get better in every facet,” he added.

What can fans expect to see on the field under Andrews?

“You talk about x’s and o’s, but really it is what are your fundamental cores that you want to see. I want to have a team that is fun to watch, that’s the first thing,” he said. “If it is fun to watch, it is fun to play in. We want schemes that the kids enjoy, that they can play fast and free. Everybody wants to see explosive plays and sacks, right?”

As he wound down his time behind a podium, he said, “I’m going to be dedicated, I’m going to be committed and we are going to hold the guys accountable, and that’s what they want. 
And we will do it with transparency and honesty.”

And with emotion.

OBSERVATIONS: John McVay dies at 91, got his start at UD

By HAL McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave after the Cleveland Browns showed the Cincinnati Bengals all tricks and gave them no treats on Halloween Night.

UD LEGACY: John McVay is known as an executive for the San Francisco 49ers, a guy who helped put together five Super Bowl winners in a 14-year span.

McVay, though, got his start in football as the University of Dayton’s head coach from 1965 through 1972, when the Flyers were Division I and played at Baujan Field on campus.

McVay, 91, passed away Tuesday and remains one of my all-time favorite coaches. I covered the Flyers from 1967 through 1972 and never had a better time.

McVay trusted me implicitly. He permitted me watch every practice and even let me throw the football around with his guys and kick field goals. And he invited me to the team’s post-practice meals where I got an ear full of strategy and game plans that helped me cover games.

Dayton’s top rival at the time was Xavier, a heated one to say the least. In 1968, UD led, 25-20, late in the game and Xavier was deep inside UD territory.. The Musketeers scored a touchdown and McVay went berserk. Xavier had 12 men on the field and the officials missed it.

Xavier coach Ed Biles, who later coached the NFL’s Houston Oilers, swore it wasn’t true. But a Dayton Daily News photographer snapped a shot from the press box as Xavier lined up. It showed 12 men on the field and the paper ran the photo on the front page of the sports section.

I became friends with Biles after he retired and I often brought up the play. He always denied that he did it on purpose. . .then he always laughed.

—MORE GHOSTS: While MLB is getting rid of the shift (hoo-ray) next season, commissioner Rob Manfraud says the ghost runner — putting a runner on second base to start all extra innings — is likely to return (boo).

He says club executives, managers, players and fans like it, which makes one wonder to whom he is talking.

If it is so good, why don’t they used it in the post-season? That makes it two different games from the regular season to the post-season.

And how exciting was Cleveland’s 1-0 15-inning win over Tampa Bay in the American League Wild Card Series and Houston’s 1-0 18-inning win over Seattle in the American League Division Series?

Instead of watching extra-inning games with the ghost runner, I’d rather read Karen Pirie’s book, ‘The Ghost Runner.’

—QUOTE: Something Pete Rose often said to me: “I’m lucky to be playing baseball and you’re lucky to be writing about it.” (Rose would have loved to be the ghost runner so he could bowl over a catcher, but that’s not allowed now.)

—TIPPING THE TABLES: The Phillies hit five home runs off Houston starter Lance McCullers, Jr., in Game 3 of the World Series to grab an early 5-0 lead. After he left, no more homers.

There were hints that McCullers was tipping off his pitches. After Bryce Harper homered, he was spotted in the dugout whispering to Alex Bohm. Bohm walked to the plate and homered on the first pitch.

During a post-game interview, Bohm was asked what Harper said to him and he said, “Nothing.” Then he was asked if it helped him and he said, “Maybe.”

Hey, Alex. We thought you said Harper said “nothing” to you, hmmmm?

PLATE PEFECTION: Umpire Pat Hoberg got ‘em all right in Game 2 of the World Series. That’s what @UmpsScorecard said.

Hoberg made 129 balls and strikes calls and was correct on all 129 according to the grading system, the first perfect score since they began tracking calls in 2015.

—QUOTE: From former major league manager Jimmy Dykes: “My favorite umpire is a dead one.” (Now that is a bit harsh. . .in most cases.)

—QUOTE: From former Reds pitcher/author Jim Brosnan: “Umpires are most vigorous when defending their missed calls.” (No wonder Joe West was the vigorous king.)

—PERSPECTIVE: Depending upon whether you are a Cleveland Browns fan or a Cincinnati Bengals fans, you look at what happened Monday night with a different view.

^It’s the Browns beat the Bengals, 32-13. Or. The Bengals lost to the Brownsl 32-13.

^It’s the Browns haven’t lost to the Bengals in Cleveland since Boomer Esiason was Cincinnati’s quarterback. Or. The Bengals haven’t beaten the Browns in Cleveland since Boomer Esiason was Cincinnati’s quarterback.

^It’s the Browns are 4-0 against Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow. Or. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is 0-4 against the Browns.

^The Browns sacked Joe Burrow five times. Or. The Bengals permitted Joe Burrow to be sacked five times.

^The Browns scored three touchdowns on their first three second-half possessions and the Bengals hadn’t permitted an offensive touchdown in the second half all season. Or. The Bengals hadn’t permitted a second-half offensive touchdown all season and the defense permitted the Browns to score three on their first three second-half possessions.

—EXHIBIT THIS: College basketball exhibitions are for big-time schools to show off for the home fans against small-school teams, like Dayton’s 80-42 turkey trot past Division III Capital.

Don’t tell that to Louisville’s Kenny Payne, coaching his first game, an exhibition against Division II Lenoir-Rhyne. Final score: Lenoir-Rhyne 57, Louisville 47,

Said Payne, most likely in a lot of pain, “We needed this whooping. . .because there is something that happened to this program before I got here that hasn’t been healed yet. And I’m trying to get them to get out of it, to fight through it, to get better.”

That is a direct hit on fired coach Chris Mack. He was in the fourth year of a seven-year contract and was 6-and-8 when he was removed last season. His overall record was 63-36 for the Cardinals.

—FIGHT PRELUDE: There is absolutely no excuse for the skirmish in the tunnel after the Michigan State-Michigan game during which several Spartans ganged up on a couple of Wolverines and pounded them and stomped them.

Again, no excuse. But why did Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh permit his team to run a reverse-pass, trying for a long touchdown, when his team led, 29-7, with 2:38 left in the game?

That’s called rubbing it in and running it up. Fortunately, the pass fell incomplete. But Michigan tried two long passes after that. And there was some pushing and shoving on the field after the game ended, before both teams entered the same tunnel to their lockerrooms.

—SPORTS SMORGASBORD: It is early November and the sports scene is glutted. Fans have more choices than what’s on a Thanksgiving table.

MLB is still playing (the World Series). The NFL is in its seventh week. The NBA season and the NHL season is underway. There is college football and college basketball. There is NASCAR and the PGA.

And, OK, there is beach volleyball if you are interested in sets, spikes and skimpiness.

—NUMBERS GAME: In our last episode, I committed a major faux pas when I presented a long list of athletes who wore number 44.

I forgot my own family. Both my sons, Brian and Brent, set basketball scoring records at West Carrollton and both wore 44. In addition, Brent’s coach, Dan Gerhard, wore ’44’ at Chaminade and at Ohio State.

And a University of Kentucky fan said I should have had Dan Issel in my ’44’ list. Jim Brown wore ’32’ as a Cleveland Browns running back. But, like Floyd Little and Ernie Davis, he wore ’44’ at Syracuse.

OBSERVATIONS: Some thoughts about a ‘real’ baseball man

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave and I never thought I’d ever say this, but. . .”With the state baseball is in, I wouldn’t care if they canceled the entire MLB season. I can get my fix with the Dayton Dragons, Wright State baseball, UD baseball and my grandson’s and great grandson’s sandlot games. Play ball, kids.

—Jim Riggleman, a baseball lifer, is one of my all-time favorite baseball people, a guy who was an interim manager of the Cincinnati Reds in 2018 after the team fired Bryan Price.

Riggleman did an admirable job with limited resources and I thought he deserved the job as the team’s manager for 2019. Instead they hired David Bell.

Riggleman, 70, displayed his love for the game recently when he took the job as manager of the independent Billings Mustangs in the Pioneer League. As the movie said, “Just for the love of the game.”

Ironically, Billings was the long-time rookie league affiliate of the Reds until the beautiful and wonderful city was axed as one of the casualties of MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s elimination of so many great minor-league franchises.

Kevin Kernan of the web-site, BallNine, has a fantastic profile of Riggleman. . .a must-read for real baseball fans. One of the things Riggleman told Kernan:

“I love to have coffee in the morning with my coaches to talk baseball or have a beer with them after the game, get to the ballpark at a reasonable hour and debate what we should do with the lineup. That’s part of the allure of it.”

Then came this hard truth, something every true baseball man I have talked to over the last two years has told me. “People who are with these clubs now, they don’t really want to hear what I have to say.’’

And what Riggleman has to say is not only worth listening to, it is worth recording and preserving for posterity, because true baseball men like Riggleman are going the way of the brontosaurus.

—The less said these days about the baseball negotiators, the better. Obviously, talk is not cheap for those guys. It is expensive, in more way than one.

What I make of all this jibber-jabber is that smoldering in the underbelly is the owners’ desire to destroy the players’ union.

All I need to know about commissioner Rob Manfred were the words he once uttered: “The World Series trophy is nothing but a piece of metal.” I’ve tuned him out ever since and his apology was as hollow as a dead tree.

—Read into this what you see and think, but to me it is mind-bogging. But I don’t know what it proves, if anything.

The nine-man 2021 All-MLB team contains only two players who played in any post-season games last season. And one played in only one post-season game.

Atlanta third baseman Austin Riley played in 16 post-season games. New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge played in one.

The rest of the all-MLB team played in none: Catcher Salvatore Perez, first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr, second baseman Marcus Semien, shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., outfielder Mike Trout, outfielder Bryce Harper, designated hitter Shohei Ohtani.

If anything, it might show that baseball, indeed, is a team game and that one or two superstars aren’t enough to get a team to the Promised Land.

—As baseball’s negotiations slog along like spilled molasses on a frozen puddle, some of the players are making light of it.

Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper photoshopped himself in a Yomiuri Giants Japanese uniform and posted on Instagram: “Aye, Yomiuri Giants, you up? Got some time to kill. I know you got (agent) Scott Boras’s number. Let’s talk.”

Most likely, the Giants don’t have a yen for Harper. . .at least not enough yen.

—Remember comedian Red Buttons (ask your grandfather) singing, ‘Strange Things Are Happening?” It certainly applies to the Horizon League basketball tournament.

First of all, IUPUI (ooh-ee,poo-ee), ranks 358th out of 358 Division I basketball schools, played Oakland in the first round with five players, due to injuries and transfers. The toothless Jaguars entered the game 1-25, 1-12 in the Horizon.

Who’d they beat? Didn’t look it up but it may have been the Happy Mornings Nursery School Toddlers. Amazingly, they were 23-point underdogs to Oakland and only lost by 12.

And somebody wagered $5,000 at the Caesar’s sports book that Wright State will win the Horizon League tournament. If the Raiders win it, the bettor collects $25,000 without even passing Go.

I have of faith in coach Scott Nagy and players like Tanner Holden and Grant Basile, but I wouldn’t bet $5,000 on the sun rising in the east. Who knows what global warming might do?

—R.J. Blakney’s game-winning dunk with one second left that lifted Dayton past Richmond Tuesday night, 55-53, was ESPN’s No. 1 play on the SportsCenter Top Ten Wednesday.

And the dunk came after UD coach Anthony Grant proved he is no autocrat. He was convinced by his coaching staff on what out-of-bounds play to run. . .Malachi Smith’s lob pass to Blakney, who jammed it home with one hand.

“We ran the same play earlier and we thought the back screen was open,” said Grant. “Right before we put them back on the floor, the coaching staff said, ‘Run the same play we ran before because it was open.’ To their credit, they were right. Heck of a pass, heck of a finish.”

Obi Toppin couldn’t have done it better than the way Blakney emphatically put an exclamation point at the end of this game,

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY. . .from Aaron Rodgers, Phil Mickelson and LeBron James: “Do unto others before they do unto you.”

OBSERVATIONS: Analyst predicts NCAA title for Dayton’s Flyers

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, filling out a questionnaire asking, “Coke or Peps,’’with Royal Crown Cola, and “Wheaties or Cheerios” with Quaker Oats and “Ford or Chevrolet” with Dodge. Bet they don’t send me any more questionnaires.

—ESPN college basketball analyst Mark Adams is a brave, bold and hopefully not a foolish man. As they say, only time will tell the tale. And his tale is as tall as Wilt Chamberlain.

Adams put out a tweet early Friday that he had a personal prediction, a real stunner, a real shocker. He would reveal it during the Saint Louis-Richmond telecast Wednesday night, a game on which he was the color analyst.

He said he had a prediction about a team destined for the Final Four of the NCAA’s annual Basketball Ball.

“And I’m right a lot,” he said. Indeed, he is. In the past few years he has predicted that Butler would make that Final Four, in another year that Wichita State would make the Final Four, in another year that Chicago Loyola would make the Final Four and last year that Houston would make the Final Four.

The predictions came before the tournament started and he was right, right, right and right.

So on the air, during the game, he said that sometime in the next three years, not only will the University of Dayton make the Final Four, but the Flyers will win the National Championship.

And why?

“Focus on the Dayton Flyers,” he said “They have the second youngest roster in the country — 11 freshmen or red-shirt freshmen. They started 1-and-3, then they knocked off Miami, then they beat Kansas, then they Belmont, then they beat Virginia Tech.

“I’m going to give a qualifier. . .if the Dayton Flyers keep their roster together, sometime in the next three years, not only will the Dayton Flyers make the Final Four, they’ll win the National Championship,” he said.

“Since that 1-and-3 start, they’ve been one of the most prominent teams, offensively and defensively,” he added. “Anthony Grant (UD coach) has put together a juggernaut. The Obi Toppin team (29-2 in 2019-20) was good, but this team is better.”

Full disclosure time: Adams, who coached at three small colleges before becoming an analyst, lives in Springboro, just beyond UD Arena’s three-point line.

—In these modern times of baseball specialization, what does it take to pitch a complete game, other than a court order from a friendly judge?

That’s a question for Captain Obvious. . .a no-hitter or a perfect game.

In Homer Bailey’s final five seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, he started 69 games and completed two, both no-hitters.

Mike Fiers made 199 starts and completed two games, both no-hitters. Tim Lincecum pitched five years in the majors and completed two games, both no-hitters.

And then there is Phil Humber. He pitched eight years and had one complete game, a perfect game.

—QUOTE: From Duane Decker, author of ‘Good Field, No Hit’: “A no-hitter is a freaky thing. Most of the greatest pitchers never pitched one. It’s a combination of a lot of little accidents.” (That’s mostly true, but Nolan Ryan begs to differ.)

Some greats from the past with long careers, but no no-no’s: Grover Cleveland Alexander, Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Lefty Grove, Steve Carlton.

And some current guys who have been around a while and are without a no-hitter: Clayton Kershaw, David Price, Stephen Strasburg, Cole Hamels.

—Because there is no baseball, there is no Ask Hal in the Sunday Dayton Daily News. So I’ll answer this question from Scott Hannig, Nadine’s favorite jeweler.

He asks: “Why does the baseball commissioner represent the owners and not all of baseball?”

That answer is as easy as 1+1. The commissioner is hired by the owners, he is their guy. The players have no say in it. So, if Rob Manfred doesn’t genuflect to the owners every day, he can kiss his act good-bye and the $11 million a year they pay him.

It is like the players refusing to accept a salary cap. It is not in their best personal interests. What is good for the game never is considered.

—Many folks, including the St. Louis Cardinals, believe 36-year-old Matt Carpenter is done, his baseball fuel tank on empty. The Cardinals didn’t pick up Carpenter’s $18.5 option after last season.

Why would they? Over the past three seasons, Carpenter’s slash line is .203/.374/.346. So he is a free agent, wondering about his future.

So he turned to 37-year-old Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who resurrected his career last season with some major adjustments. Votto gave Carpenter a positive slap on the rump with some sage advice.

Carpenter told Ken Rosenthal of ‘The Athletic’ that Votto provided him with tips on how to workout and how to take extended batting practice.

“If he (Votto) would have told me, ‘I think you’ve peaked, I think this is it,’ honestly, I probably would have retired,” said Carpenter. “But he said, ‘I think you do have a lot left. I think you’ve kind of lost your way a little bit.’”

There was a time when Carpenter’s bat was more hazardous to the Reds than a three-packs-day habit and he would be as welcome calling Votto as a cockroach on an ice cream sundae. Votto, though, is a compassionate guy.

—Why didn’t somebody tell me about the TV series ‘The House of Cards?’ I thought it was about the St. Louis Cardinals, so I avoided it.

Nadine and I discovered it last week and we have been binge watching it. There is no sign of Tony LaRussa or Yadier Molina.

—From Chris O’Brien of WGRR (103.5) in Cincinnati, who hosts me every Monday during baseball season on a short show: “I accidentally wore a red shirt to Target today and, long story short, I’m covering for Debbie this weekend.” (Remind me never to wear a dark blue shirt to Best Buy.)

OBSERVATIONS: UD’s Flyers dominate A-10 ‘Rookie’ award

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, in search of a stronger heater because it is colder there when the heater shuts down than Mammoth Cave, Ky.

—There is an abundance of freshmen and first-year basketball players in the Atlantic 10 Conference, but folks must wonder if the University of Dayton cornered the market.

It isn’t just that the Flyers have 11 freshmen on their roster, it is the way they dominate the league’s Rookie of the Week Award.

The Flyers have won it six times already this season, three by DaRon Holmes II and three by Malachi Smith.

Holmes won it for last week for his two outstanding games against Saint Louis and Duquesne. He averaged 14.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocked shots. He buried 13 of 20 (more than half dunks) for a .650 shooting percentage.

The 6-foot-10 freshman from Goodyear, Ariz., owns 37 dunks, 42 blocked shots and 75 looks of intimidation.

He was so good against Duquesne while scoring a best 18 points, the guys broadcasting the game for USA Network said, “He will be the next No. 1 draft pick from Dayton after Obi Toppin,”

Somebody please hide the letters ‘NBA’ and the words ‘transfer portal’ from him.

—It is 2022 and Bobby Bonilla hasn’t appeared in a major league baseball games in 21 years. And yet the New York Mets are paying him $1,193,249.20 this year.

They’ve paid him that same money every year since he signed a five-year $29 million deal in 1991. And the Mets will pay him that same amount until 2035, when he is 72.

Amazingly, the Mets traded Bonilla in 1995 to Baltimore for Damon Buford and Alex Ochoa. But they remain on the hook for $1,193,249 for 14 more years. . .and, oh yeah, don’t forget the 20 cents.

So every July 1 is ‘Happy Bobby Bonilla Day.’ That’s the day the Mets cut the check, with tears streaming down their cheeks.

—This won’t happen again until one of the pyramid’s collapses. In 1974, Nolan Ryan, pitching for the California Angels, struck out 19 Boston Red Sox. He pitched 13 innings and threw 235 pitches. His reward was a no-decision, but no sore arm. He never owned a sore arm.

—Josh Allen’s success as quarterback of the Buffalo Bills is no surprise in The Man Cave.

Back in 2017, when Allen was a freshman at the University of Wyoming, I saw him play in Laramie, Wyo., in War Memorial Stadium, highest college football venue in the country at 7,165 feet.

Playing in a driving rainstorm that turned to snow, Allen led Wyoming to a 16-13 win over Colorado State. Despite the deplorable weather, he was 10 for 20 for 138 yards and was the game’s leading rusher with 60 yards.

I came back to Dayton and told people, “I just saw a future NFL star, Josh Allen.” Typical response: “Josh who?”

—NFL referee Jerome Boger became a Las Vegas boogeyman when he permitted a Bengals touchdown pass to stand. . .against the rules, When one of his officials blew his whistle while Joe Burrow’s pass was still in the air, by rule, the play was dead.

Let’s steal a chant used by the University of Dayton cheering section when it thinks an official missed a call: “Take his whistle, take his whistle.”

—Class act by Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor. After his Bengals beat a Las Vegas in their playoff game, Taylor was spotted going from bar to bar near Paul Brown Stadium passing out ‘game balls’ to fans.

Bengals owner Mike Brown, known for squeezing dollar bills until George Washington cries uncle, probably suffered cardiac arrest.

—The Gonzaga University basketball program has a lot of ‘haters’ out there. Success breeds contempt.

But a real basketball aficionado has to appreciate the program and coach Mark Few. In their last three games, the Zags have scored 117 (against Pepperdine), 110 (against Brigham Young) and 115 (against Santa Clara), They scored 60 or more points in the first half in all three games.

In those three games, Gonzaga star — the Zags are star-studded — Drew Timme made 20 straight baskets inside the arc, no misses.

Wouldn’t it be great to see Gonzaga play the Flyers in UD Arena? The two outstanding mid-major Catholic schools have met only once — Gonzaga won, 84-79, at the 2013 Maui Classic.

—From Bob Peitz, recalling what former Houston Oilers football coach Bum Phillips once said when asked why he always took his wife on road trips: “Because she is too ugly to kiss good-bye.”

Mrs. Bum then used her frying pan for something other than frying bacon.

—If the Cleveland Browns decide that quarterback Baker Mayfield is not the answer (or even the question) perhaps they should look for a guy named Joe.

Like Joe Burrow, like Joe Namath, like Joe Montana, like Joe Flacco, like Joe Theismann, like Joe Kapp, like Joe Ferguson or even like Joe Harrington.

Of course, Tom wouldn’t be bad either, if he is like Tom Brady and takes his team to 17 divisional playoff games in 21 seasons.

—From my great friend and ‘chauffeur’ Ray Snedegar: “Wonder if the guy who coined the term ‘one hit wonder’ came up with any other phrase.”

That’s what my high school baseball coach called me.

UD Flyers playing like Secretariat with fast starts

By Hal McCoy

If they put saddles on the University of Dayton’s starting five, they would resemble the iconic thoroughbred Secretariat breaking from the starting gate.

Earlier this week, the Flyers broke from the gate with an 18-2 start, burying Alabama State shortly after they took off their pre-game practice shirts.

Pretty good, huh?

Well, on Saturday afternoon in UD Arena, the Flyers burst from the gate with a 19-2 start to eradicate Northern Illinois before all the Flyer Faithful found their seats.

Final score: Dayton 79, Northern Illinois 41, UD’s fifth straight victory.

Sure, Northern Illinois is 2-6. But the Huskies are playing a difficult schedule. And they opened the season by upsetting the University of Washington on the road, 71-64,

But they’ve lost to Indiana by 36, lost to Boston University by 18, lost to Missouri by 17, lost to Marquette by 14.

And they lost to Dayton by 38 as the Flyers made the Huskies look like the last place sled in the Iditarod.

The full-game full-court defensive pressure the Flyers are employing in recent games is paying off in a gargantuan manner.

The defense Saturday forced NIU into mostly off-balance, contested shots and the Huskies might have set an NCAA intercollegiate record for air balls. And they were mostly held to one-and-done shots as the Flyers owned a 43 to 25 rebounding edge.

The game started with a quick message. . .that the Flyers meant business. The opening play was an alley-oop pass from Malachi Smith to DaRon Holmes II and he slam-dunked it home.

That torched a 9-0 opening salvo that quickly expanded to a 19-2 lead.

The Flyers led, 54-33 midway through the second half, but they did not take their sneakers off the accelerator.

They launched a 17-0 run, 12 from Elijah Weaver. He hit a pair of three-pointers and a pair of conventional basket-and-free-throw episodes that pushed UD’s lead to 71-33.

Weaver, who sat out the 93-54 win over Alabama State due to disciplinary reasons, came off the bench to lead the Flyers with 16 points.

For the fourth straight game, four Flyers were in double figures and two came off the bench, Weaver with his 16 and Koby Brea with 12 on four for five three-point sniping,

Holmes had 14 in only 23 minutes and freshman point guard Smith had 11 points, five rebounds, four assists and only one turnover.

It was Dayton’s fifth straight win, lifting its work sheet to 6-and-3. The Flyers take their high wire act to Dallas Wednesday night to face SMU (6 -3) before returning to UD Arena a week from Sunday to play Virginia 
Tech, 6-and-3 with a one-point loss to Xavier and 19-point loss Saturday afternoon to Wake Forest.

There is no argument that UD’s fortunes changed after its 1-3 start when coach Anthony Grant installed Smith at starting point guard and put the Flyers into the full-court harassing defense.

Smith, quicker than running water, attacks the rim for baskets, fouls or dish-off assists and runs the offense like a Swiss railway engineer.

His start to the season was delayed by injury and the UD offense was stagnant and unimaginable without him.

“With every game, he is getting more and more comfortable with his role,” said Grant, speaking about Smith during his post-game TV interview. “He missed six week of the pre-season. He didn’t get to go through the first six week of practice.

“We got him about a week before the season started and he had to quickly catch up,” Grant added. “It is a testament to the work he put in and to our medical staff. Every game he is learning more and more and getting better and better.”

Smith, 4 for 5, was one of three Flyers to miss only one shot. Weaver was 6 for 7 and Holmes was 6 for 7.

R.J. Blakney scored only four points, but one was the Basket of the Game. He broke down the lane like a stroll down Main Street and rattled the rafters with a one-handed slam dunk.

The Flyers shot 55 per cent on 31 of 54 and 33 per cent from three on 8 of 24. Northern Illinois was as cold as a north wind with 16 of 55 (29 per cent) and 3 of 16 from three (19 per cent).

To show the depth of this freshman-laden team, 12 of them, 44 points came off the bench.

“I thought (defense) was the story of the game,” said Grant. “The first eight minutes or so, we really defended to open the game up. They matched our energy to start the second half, but when our subs came in they did a hell of a job of changing the game to open it back up.

“That’ one of the strengths of our team, we’re a deep team,” he added. “When we begin to understand our identity and what we’re capable of, we have a very high ceiling.”

UD Flyers nip Belmont to take ESPN Events title

By Hal McCoy

The glass slippers still fit Cinderella and right now they are worn by the University of Dayton basketball team.

When the Flyers arrived at Disney World for the ESPN Events Invitational, they were thought of as more like Mickey Mouse than Cinderella.

They came to the eight-team tournament as the only team with a losing record and three straight ghastly losses to mid-major ho-hummers — UMass Lowell, Lipscomb and Austin Peay.

But when the national TV lights clicked on, the lights went on for the Flyers, too. Down went Miami of Florida by 16. Down went No. 4 ranked Kansas on Mustapha Amzil’s rebound shot as the horn blared, barely audible over the screams of the Flyer Faithful.

And on Sunday afternoon, in the finals, down went Belmont University, 63-61.

The Flyers, underdogs for all three games, were given a 30 per cent chance of winning by, but the odds on the slippers fitting Cinderella were high, too.

This one belonged to the defense. Belmont star Nick Muszynski, a 6-foot-11 senior center from Pickerington, Oh., got his 25 points, but the Flyers put the muzzle on the rest of the Bruins. They were averaging 78 points a game and the Flyers held them 15 points under that. The Flyers harassed Belmont into 6 of 22 three-pointers.

Freshman Malachi Smith, the team’s conductor without a baton, scored 10 points and dished out six assists. But freshman DaRon ‘Deuce’ Holmes could have won it.,

On Sunday, he had 11 point, 10 rebounds and blocked six shots.

In addition, Kobe Elvis didn’t play a second of the Kansas earthquaker and he played only four minutes in the win over Miami.

But on Sunday, he came off the bench in the first half and scored 10 straight points on two three-pointers and a pair of two-pointers.

“Yes, he gave us a big lift and that’s the strength of our team,” UD coach Anthony Grant told broadcaster Larry Hansgen during his post-game radio show. “We have a deep group. And on a different night it could be any different guy. I look across the stat sheet and we got a lot of great efforts from a lot of people that show up on the stat sheet and some of it that didn’t show up on the stat sheet.

“It was a spark that they gave us, or the lift that they gave us, whether it was giving a guy a rest for a couple of minutes or coming in and making a play that was big in a one-possession game. They all counted.”

Belmont’s name is not a top brand, but the Nashville-based Bruins have won 20 or more games in 11 straight seasons. The Bruins have qualified for the NCAA tournament nine times since 2006.

Belmont was picked to win the Ohio Valley Conference this season and the Flyers already had lost at home to Austin Peay, 87-81, and OVC team picked to finish sixth.

Midway through the second half, the Flyers built a nine-point lead, 54-45, after Koby Brea hit a three-pointer with eight minutes left.

The Bruins began looking for Muszynski under the basket and he scored six points during a run that brought Belmont to within one, 54-53, with 4 1/2 minutes left.

It was time for Toumani Camara to insert some influence. He converted a conventional three-point play and took a pass down the lane from Holmes for a lay-up and a 59-53 UD lead.

Belmont, though, would not give it up. Muszynski scored. Ben Sheppard drove for a basket and UD’s lead was a precarious 59-57.

Koby Brea missed a three-pointer, but Holmes grabbed the miss and stuffed it home. Smith hit two nerve-bending free throws — all net — and UD led, 63-58.

And still, Belmont would not lay down their arms and surrender.

Sheppard, who scored 14, drove for another basket to cut it to 63-60. With a chance to finish off the Bruins, Camara missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 06.6 seconds left.

Grant then displayed some courage and wisdom. The Flyers had two fouls to give before Belmont was in the bonus.

UD fouled at :06.5. UD fouled at :04.6. The next foul put Belmont in the bonus. But rather than let the Bruins hit a game-tying three, the Flyers fouled again.

Grayson Murphy went to the line at :03,9 and made the first one, cutting UD’s lead to two. Knowing if he made the second shot, Belmont would lose by one, he missed the second free throw purposely, hoping a teammate would snag an offensive rebound and drop in a game-winning basket.

The shot hit off the iron and Smith, the shortest player on the floor at 6-foot-0, grabbed the ball and flung it toward the other end as time expired.

Dayton 63, Belmont 61 — UD’s first November tournament championship since it won this same tournament in 2011 when it was known as The Old Spice Classic.

Grant was magnificent is guiding the young Flyers (12 freshmen) with quality strategy and timely use of his bench.

Of the late-game fouling, Grant said, “That was a special situation, learning on the fly. Some of those things we really haven’t practiced. At the end of the game with a three-point lead, instead of letting them tie it, we wanted to use some of the clock, foul early, ” Grant added. “Instead of letting them shoot a three, we wanted to put them on the line for the one-and-one. And the next part was getting that rebound.”

Grant paused and laughed before saying, “I got a little nervous when I saw that ball bouncing around and I was so happy when I saw Malachi come up with it.

“I think we grew up a little bit here,” he said The Flyers came in as Lilliputian and left as giants. “And it’s great to bring as championship home.”

Of Holmes and Smith, Grant said, “Those freshmen came in playing with confidence. And for their teammates to give them trust with their confidence is great to see. At the end of the day, this will be about our whole team. Everybody bought in and did a great job of understanding what we had to do to be a better team after coming off a tough week at home.”

Indeed, the Flyers left Dayton as Mr. Hyde and came back as Dr. Jekyll.

UD Flyers shock the basketball world with win over No. 4 Kansas, 74-73

By Hal McCoy

It is extremely easy to get ESPN analyst Dickie Vitale excitable, but he was above and beyond Saturday when the University Dayton stunned the basketball world.

The Flyers, prohibitive underdogs to Kansas, the No. 4 team in the nation, pulled the unfathomable upset, 74-73, in the ESPN Events Invitational in Orlando, Fla.

When Mustapha Amzil’s shot at the buzzer nestled through the nets, Vitale screamed, “I’m shocked. I’m stunned. I had Kansas winning this game by 25. This might be the biggest upset in college basketball this season. This is the upset of the year.”

Might? Might? Might?

This is a team that lost home games to UMass Lowell, Lipscomb and Austin Peay.

But even when the Flyer were down 15 in the first half and down by 10 early in the second half, Vitale said, “I’m impressed with Dayton’s heart and tenaciousness. They will not go away.”

Indeed, they did not go away. Kansas felt the Flyers’ hot breath all 40 minutes.

Even Kansas coach Bill Self had a hint. With his team up 10 at the half, 45-35, Self told ESPN, “Dayton’s defense is so good and they are playing so hard.”

The Flyers’ tenacity pushed them ahead, 68-61, with 7:20 left. Then the jitters surfaced. . .six turnovers led to Kansas points and a 13-2 Jayhawks run.

Suddenly, the Flyers were down, 73-70, with a minute left. Freshman point guard Malachi Smith drove for a basket with 0:45 left.

But Kansas had the ball when things completely changed. Kansas’ David McCormack was called for an offensive foul, giving UD the ball with :19.6 left.

After a timeout, Smith controlled the ball down to the game’s expiration date. He drove the basket, but his shot was blocked. The ball was snagged by Amzil and he flung it toward the basket.

He hit the rim and it bounced high off the glass. . .and fell through the hoop as the horn sounded.

Amazingly, it was Amzil’s only shot of the game. And it sent the Flyers into the championship game Sunday afternoon.

It looked as if Vitale’s 25-point loss prediction would come true when the Flyers fell behind, 11-1, to start the game. From there, the Flyers hung tough to keep the deficit at 10 by halftime.

And it was the Flyers playing with aggression and a mission in the second half, and showing heart when Kansas came at them in flurry in the final minutes.

It was their highest victory against a ranked team since they knocked off No. 1 DePaul in 1984 when Ed Young hit a shot at the horn.

“It was great when you see a young team like ours face adversity in the final five minutes. They (Kansas) had a five-point lead, a talented a well-coached team, for our guys to have belief in themselves and sustain a belief in what we were doing to go down the stretch and win the game,” UD coach Anthony Grant told broadcaster Larry Hansgen during a post-game interview.

“Our guys battled,” Grant added. “We were down ten at the half and I felt like we had more in us. We’re six games into the season (3-3) and our guys are beginning to understand what they are capable of.

“When we come together as a team. . .they are starting to understand that the sum is better than the individual parts. When they focus on one goal, try to win, that gives us a chance,” said Grant.

The last play of the game was designed to have Smith drive the basket, which is what he was able to do. But his shot was blocked and Amzil was Mustapha-on-the-spot.

“Smith did a great job trying to turn the corner, but had the shot blocked,” said Grant. “Mustapha’s presence of mind. . .there were 3.8 seconds left when the ball left his hands, he was able to see the clock, and we’re just happy the ball was able to go in for us. And they were able to enjoy the fruit of the hard work they were able to put in to make that win happen.”

What was incredible was that a glance at the box score would indicate that the Flyers lost this game. . .and lost big.

They fumbled away 20 turnovers that led to 26 Kansas points. They were only 11 for 19 at the foul line. Kansas had three players score more than any UD player.

Ochai Agabji, averaging 26, scored 21. Christian Braun and Cam Martin each scored 17. But the Jayhawks were only 9 of 20 from the foul line.

The Flyers were led by freshman DeRon Holmes II, who bullied the basket for 16. Elijah Weaver and Toumani Camara each had 14 and Camara grabbed seven rebounds. Smith, who guides the UD offense like a ship’s captain, chipped in 10.

Smith also had six assists. He didn’t gets one on Amzil’s game-winning shot when Smith’s shot was blocked, but it was the biggest non-assist of the game. Or the season. Or maybe the decade.

UD Flyers thaw out in Florida, stun Miami, 76-60

By Hal McCoy

Just when it looked as if the University of Dayton basketball team would be in a season-long deep freeze, they went to Florida and thawed out.

The Flyers, losers of three straight to mediocre mid-major teams, scored a major upset on Thanksgiving Day in the ESPN Events Invitational Tournament in Orlando, Fla.

Executing everything to perfection, the Flyers executed Miami (Fla.), 76-60. The inexperience Flyers all played like four-year veterans in totally mesmerizing the Hurricanes, who came in with a 3-and-1 record.

A furious and frustrating defense forced Miami completely out of its game.

There were so many factors that led to this turnaround:

—The crowd. There were so many UD fans in attendance, making so much noise, it sounded like a game in UD Arena.

—The nose-to-nose pressure defense forced Miami to play beyond the arc and the Hurricanes were 4 for 20 from three.

—Meanwhile, the Flyers came in shooting 23 per cent from three, but on this day they were William Tell accurate, 11 for 19.

—Elijah Weaver made four of those threes, all in the second half and all 14 of his points came in the second half.

—The two true freshman, DeRon Holmes II and Malachi Smith, were the center piece of this astounding victory.

Holmes dominated the real estate around the rim, particularly in the first half when the Flyers led, 36-25. He finished with 15 points in what might be his coming out party.

Smith, who runs the floor like the Tazmanian Devil, drove to the basket with reckless abandon and scored 14. He didn’t miss a shot, didn’t commit a turnover, produced seven assist and even snagged six rebounds and stole the ball twice. All in 32 points.

Mustapha Amzil came off the bench and contributed 11 points, plus the Flyers received key contributions from Koby Brea, Greer III. . .just about everybody n one facet or the other.

In addition to hitting 11 of 19 from three, the Flyers were 27 for 46 overall.

The Flyers built a 30-18 lead late in the first half and led at intermission, 36-25.

Miami scored the first six points of the second half, to pull within five points, but Smith scored on a goal-tending drive and Weaver hit back-to-back threes that pushed the lead back to 44-31.

And the Flyers glided home from there.

Coach Anthony Grant used 11 players and they all played as one.

“That is something that we thought could be the strength of our team is our depth,” Grant told broadcaster Larry Hansgen on the post-game show. “We have good talent and we have to get that talent to understand their roles and to believe in their roles, to understand that they can thrive and succeed in those roles. And that will help our team be successful.

“Everybody came out today to do what they could do to help the team,” he added. “When we can do that on a consistent basis we have a chance to become a good team.”

On this day, on Thanksgiving Day, the Flyers did not play like turkeys, which is what they did in losses to UMass Lowell, Lipscomb and Austin Peay, all in UD Arena.

“We talked about it pre-game, basketball is a game of habits,” said Grant. “You have to build the right habits if you want to be able to have success. It is great to get a win today, to re-enforce to our young people what it takes to be a success in college basketball. It was a good first step.”

If the Flyers can make a habit of playing the way they played Thursday, there will be no more Lowells, no more Lipscombs and no more Peays.