Archie Miller: ‘Winning isn’t easy’

Dayton players (left to right: Sam Miller, Xeyrius Williams, John Crosby, Ryan Mikesell and Bobby Wehrli) cheer after a made free throw against Richmond on Tuesday, March 1, 2016, at the Robins Center in Richmond, Va. David Jablonski/Staff

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Dayton players (left to right: Sam Miller, Xeyrius Williams, John Crosby, Ryan Mikesell and Bobby Wehrli) cheer after a made free throw against Richmond on Tuesday, March 1, 2016, at the Robins Center in Richmond, Va. David Jablonski/Staff

Expectations rise for Dayton Flyers

Editor’s note: The Dayton Flyers start the season Nov. 11. In the 26 days leading to the opener, the Dayton Daily News will explore different aspects of the program in the A-Z Guide to Dayton Basketball. This is the fifth installment. E: Expectations.

In a game to forget for the Dayton Flyers, one image will stands out.

In the final moments of Dayton’s 70-51 loss to Syracuse in the first round of the NCAA tournament in March, point guard Scoochie Smith pulled his jersey over his face to obscure his tears. From Smith’s side came Syracuse’s Trevor Cooney, one of the few remaining Syracuse players who experienced a loss to Dayton in the second round of the 2014 tournament. Cooney patted Smith on the back to console him.

A season that saw the Flyers reach rare heights in the national polls and pull off several of their biggest non-conference victories in years — beating Alabama, Iowa, Vanderbilt and Arkansas among others — ended in disappointment. After five tournament wins in the previous two seasons, the Flyers left St. Louis empty handed, forced to ponder their early for the last five-plus months.

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Despite that ending, the Flyers further stamped themselves as a team everyone expects to see in March. Archie Miller and Co. expect it every year. The Flyer Faithful have similar expectations. The national media and media who cover the Atlantic 10 have caught on as well. Dayton was voted preseason favorite in the conference Tuesday for the second straight season.

Dayton has won 78 games the last three seasons. No Dayton team has won more than 97 games in a four-year period.

“We talk all the time about our philosophy and what we tried to establish when we first got here,” Miller said. “We stayed with our plan. We felt like it was going to work, and we tried to recruit to the plan and develop off of it. Those things have been the consistent things that we’ve had come together.

“The winning isn’t easy, though. Being able to break through in the Atlantic 10 for us was something that was really important to us. It was hard to do. Being able to make the run in the (NCAA) tournament in ‘14 probably helped our perception, but we still hadn’t reached a level in the league we needed to be at. Competing for the championship in the A-10 was more important to us than making the tournament. That’s sort of what we’ve tried to establish a little bit, consistency year in and year out and winning a lot of games. The reason we’re winning them is we’re preparing to play and do things the right way. The expectation in our league is to be at the top.”

Here's a roundup of what people are thinking three weeks before the season opener Nov. 11 against Austin Peay at UD Arena. The expectations are similar to a year ago when UD entered the season in several preseason top 25 polls:

Eamon Brennan, ESPN: Rhode Island ranked 21st in his preseason top 25. The Flyers were one of 12 teams to receive an honorable mention.

Jon Rothstein, USports: The former CBSSports.com writer ranks Dayton No. 21 in his preseason top 25. He wrote, "Archie Miller has four players on his roster — Scoochie Smith, Kyle Davis, Charles Cooke, and Kendall Pollard — that will be 22 during Atlantic 10 play."

Rothstein also named Dayton redshirt sophomore Josh Cunningham one of the top 20 impact transfers.

“The 6-7 forward had 21 rebounds in a game two years ago at Bradley and had several high-major offers out of high school,” Rothstein wrote.

Greg Mitchell, MidMajorMadness.com:He picks Dayton, Rhode Island and VCU as his top three in the conference. Of Dayton, he wrote, "Charles Cooke pulled out of the NBA Draft and joins Scoochie Smith in what will again be a dynamic backcourt. Four of five starters are back (assuming Kendall Pollard's good health), and coveted Bradley transfer Josh Cunningham gives the Flyers a roster that can win the A-10.

Terrance Payne, NBC Sports:In his A-10 prediction, he picks the Flyers second behind Rhode Island and wrote, "The Flyers return Charles Cooke, Scoochie Smith and Kendall Pollard among others. That said, there's a lot of experience on this roster which is led by the league's best coach in Archie Miller."

Carmen Carcieri, BustingBrackets.com: Rhode Island also gets the nod here as the preseason favorite, but he wrote of Dayton, "The best asset the Flyers have though is their experience. They are old, and that's fantastic news if you want to win in college basketball."

Mike Rutherford, SBNation.com: He picks Dayton as his A-10 favorite and wrote, "Four of five starters are back for the Flyers, who are looking to make four consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history."

Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook:Rhode Island ranked 25th, but Dayton did not make the preseason top 25.

Gary Parrish, CBSSports.com: He also likes Rhode Island, ranking the Rams 18th. Dayton did not make his list.

Justin Parker, Lake Norman Citizen: His top five in the A-10 are: Rhode Island, Dayton, VCU, Davidson, George Washington.

John O'Connor, Richmond Times Dispatch: He predicts the Flyers will win the A-10 and will be followed by Rhode Island, VCU, Davidson, La Salle, George Washington, Richmond, St. Bonaventure, Fordham, Massachusetts, Saint Joseph's, Duquesne, George Mason and Saint Louis.

Mark Adams, American Sports Network: He listed Smith as one of the top-12 point guards in the nation.

Grant Kelly, A10Talk.com: In A10Talk's list of top 25 A-10 players, they ranked Cooke No. 3Smith No. 9 and Kendall Pollard No. 15.

Jordan Cornette, CampusInsiders.com: The former Notre Dame player predicts Dayton will make the Final Four with Xavier, Duke and Kansas.

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