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Dayton uses Gruden’s pep talk to dominate arch-rival Xavier

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(Dayton’s Kevin Dillard talks about win over Xavier)


Most people who follow sports do not realize that Jon Gruden, the Super Bowl-winning coach is a graduate of the University of Dayton.

Gruden, who most people say looks like the movie doll “Chuckie”, was quarterback for the Dayton Flyers football team in the 1980′s and led the team to a couple of Stagg Bowls.

He is a proud alumnus and watches the Flyers basketball team on ESPN when he can.

He was instrumental in Dayton’s 87-72 win over the Xavier Musketeers on Saturday afternoon at UD Arena.

Gruden, wearing his old Dayton football lettermen’s jacket, was asked by basketball head coach Archie Miller to talk to the players at an 8 a.m. film session and give them a pep talk. He told the players to “go out, play hard and share the ball.” The players listened and were grateful that Gruden came back to talk to the team.

Before a sellout crowd of 13, 435, the Flyers did everything Gruden told them as they blasted the Musketeers.

(courtesy of Dayton athletics)

Junior Matt Kavanaugh scored 20 points while hauling down 9 rebounds, and junior point guard Kevin Dillard, who was selected the Blackburn/McCafferty Trophy, which goes to the game’s MVP, had 16 points and nine assists as the Dayton took control of first place in the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Overall, UD is 14-5, 4-1 while Xavier falls to 13-6, 4-2. The other A-10 top teams have at least two losses.

The Flyers worked the ball around the perimeter in the half-court offense and were able to score at will from 3-point land, getting second and third chances on the offensive rebounds and just basically outhustled the more-publicized Musketeers.

Dayton built up an 18-point lead in the 2nd half, and Xavier could not get it under 11 the rest of the game.

The Flyers frustrated Xavier stars Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons all game and it showed. They missed open shots and layups and could not score at will in previous matchups. Holloway scored 21 and Lyons 20, but most of those points came after the game had long been decided. They were the only Musketeers in double figures scoring.

Kevin Dillard (courtesy of Dayton athletics)

On the other hand, the Flyers had four players in double figures to support Kavanaugh and Dillard. Josh Parker added 16 and Paul Williams scored 13. Dayton also dominated the paint eventhough Xavier has 7-footer Kenny Frease, scoring 28 points and the bench play went to the Flyers, who are deeper, 27-16.

It was obvious that Xavier head coach Chris Mack was upset with his team’s intensity from the game’s outset. The Muskies did not come out at halftime until there was only 2:49 left on the clock.

The next matchup will come in February on the 18th at the Cintas Center where Dayton has never won and has had some nightmarish games. Maybe this might be the year to sweep Xavier.

 

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