Dayton Should Be Ready for Duquesne

This won't be one of those times when the opponent gets surprised by Duquesne. The Dukes' very successful start is well-noted around the league and Saturday night's foe, the Dayton Flyers, will be ready for their third Atlantic 10 Conference game after a 14-1 start in the non-conference schedule.

Dayton opened the A-10 schedule at Massachusetts Saturday when the Minutemen came back from a six-point first half deficit to win, 75-62. Then Fordham, with a 2-12 record, visited UD Wednesday evening. The Rams' came back from 11 points down in the second half to take a 71-70 lead with 10 seconds left only to see the Flyers' Rob Lowery streak down the court for the winning layup with five seconds to go.

Dayton is 15-2, 1-1 in the A-10. And Duquesne is 12-4, 3-0 in league play.

The Flyers are led by sixth-year coach Brian Gregory, formerly an assistant at Michigan State, who succeeded Oliver Purnell when he took the ACC job at Clemson.

Gregory has had four winning seasons in his first five and holds a 113-62 record (.646) at the Ohio school. He was 24-9 in his first season, 2003-04, and 23-11 last year.

Dayton leads the series 40-18 but has a 15-11 record in games in Pittsburgh, 8-4 at the Palumbo Center. The Dukes have won the last two, 63-61 last season at UD Arena, and 83-89 in the Burgh on Jan. 24, 2007.

In addition to senior Aaron Jackson's injury, sophomores Damian Saunders and Bill Clark have played while under the weather the last two times out. The Flyers are also battling the winter ills.

Dayton's 6-foot-8 sophomore forward Chris Wright (12.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.0 bpg) and 6-foot-0 junior guard London Warren (4.1 ppg, 3.7 apg, 1.6 spg) didn't start against Fordham because of the flu. Both played and are expected to start Saturday, along with 6-foot-6 senior forward Charles Little (7.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg), 6-foot-5 freshman swingman Chris Johnson (6.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and 6-foot-10 junior big forward Kurt Huelsman (4.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.0 bpg). Wright leads the Flyers in scoring, rebounding, field goals made, offensive and defensive rebounds and double-doubles.

One player will miss the game. Paul Williams, a 6-foot-4 freshman guard, will not be available because of an inner-ear infection. He didn't play against Fordham.

But Dayton has depth with 11 other players who average at least 7.9 minutes per game, with nine in double figures. Two reserves are in the top five in scoring: 6-foot-3 junior guard Marcus Johnson (11.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.4 apg) is second and 6-foot-2 freshman guard Rob Lowery (7.3 ppg, 3.1 apg, 2.3 rpg), the hero in the FU win, is fourth. Johnson, while scoring in double figures over the last eight games, has also guarded the opposition's top scorer each time out.

Reserves Mickey Perry, a 6-foot-2 junior guard, and Devin Searcy, another 6-foot-10 big forward, and Luke Fabrizious, a 6-foot-9 freshman forward who averages 9.4 mpg, have played in all 17 games.

Marcus Johnson, Fabrizious and Perry are the team's three-point shooters with Perry leading the trio with 22 made and a 39.3% average.

Dayton keeps opponents' scoring down to 57.3 ppg, second in the league, and the opponents' field goal percentage to 36.6 percent, (No. 1 in A-10), 31.3% from beyond the arc (#2). The Dukes are shooting 47.3%, 36.2% on treys, while scoring 79.6 ppg, 12.3 ppg more than UD.

Dayton presents Duquesne with another opponent that will look to control the tempo. The Flyers are averaging 6.9 steals per game, the team's best in 17 years which is good for sixth in the A-10 (Duquesne leads with 8.1 spg).

Dayton is another team that should have the rebounding advantage against Duquesne, they have a plus 6.8 rpg mark though the season, third best in the A-10. How the numbers finally round out may be quite different than expected.

Since the Dukes' 86-60 loss to Old Dominion where they were outrebounded 35-26, the Pittsburgh team has won the rebounding battle five times during the seven-game winning streak including a 33-25 advantage over George Washington two days ago. And in the two games where DU trailed, versus Charlotte and St. Bonaventure, the deficit was one rebound in each contest. DU is plus 7.7 rpg over this stretch and +0.7 this season, 8th in the league.

Dayton also has a freshman forward who is out for the season. Josh Benson, a 6-foot-9, 205 pound hometown product, didn't see any action this season. He had surgery on a torn right labrum.

The Flyers are one of three teams to play the Dukes twice this season -- the others are St. Bonaventure and Saint Louis. The rematch will be the final game on the regular season schedule on Saturday, March 7, 2009, at 8:00 p.m.