Weber State's basketball team concludes its early season road journey this evening when the Wildcats travel to Ohio to face the University of Dayton.
In their previous two games, the 'Cats (1-2) have played on the West Coast (an overtime loss at San Jose State) and an instate clash with Utah State (a 10-point loss at Logan). Tonight's first-time matchup with the Flyers (4-1) marks just the third time in school history that a WSU team has played in the state of Ohio. The Wildcats are 0-2 in their previous two trips to the Buckeye State.
If Weber State hopes to hang with the Flyers — who have already beaten Boston College, Auburn, Arkansas State and Manhattan this season — the Wildcats must make big improvements over last Saturday's performance against the Aggies. Weber was outrebounded 43-30 and shot just 34 percent in the Spectrum, including 24 percent in the second half. The Wildcats, who were tied with Utah State with five minutes remaining before getting outscored 12-2 down the stretch, also shot just 55 percent from the foul line in that loss. WSU led the nation in free-throw shooting last season.
The Flyers are led by senior guard Kevin Dillard, who is averaging 15.2 points and 5.3 assists per game. He was a preseason Atlantic 10 All-Conference first team selection and earned second team All-District honors last season. Another guard, Vee Sanford, adds 13.0 points and 3.6 rebounds per game for Dayton, a private Roman Catholic University with an enrollment of approximately 11,000 students.
The Flyers are coached by Archie Miller, who is in his second season at the school and, at age 34, is the fifth-youngest Division I coach in the country. He came to Dayton after spending two seasons as an assistant coach for his brother, Sean Miller, the Arizona Wildcats' head coach. Prior to that, Miller was an assistant coach to Thad Matta at Ohio State for two seasons and has also spent time as an assistant at North Carolina State and Western Kentucky.
And if the Wildcats thought it was tough playing in the Spectrum at Logan, the environment at the University of Dayton Arena might pose an even more difficult challenge for them. Dayton has had 204 consecutive regular-season home games with an attendance of at least 11,000 fans. And in the past 15 years, 442 of 445 home games have drawn at least 10,000 fans, helping the Flyers rank in the top 30 in the nation in attendance for 15 straight seasons.
"Obviously Dayton is a very good basketball team and will be another extremely difficult test for us," said WSU head coach Randy Rahe. "Playing on the road in a tough environment is good for our team. These games are good tests for us to see where we are as a team."
GAME NOTES: Notable alumni of Dayton include former NFL head coaches Jon Gruden and Chuck Noll, former NBA player Jim Paxon and national award-winning sportscaster Dan Patrick. The nickname Flyers is a reference to the Wright brothers, Dayton natives Orville and Wilbur Wright.
Wildcats on the air
Weber State (1-2) at Dayton (4-1)
Today, 5 p.m. MST
University of Dayton Arena,
Online video: DaytonFlyers.com
TV: none Radio: 106.9 FM
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company