Like them or not, the Dayton Flyers seem to be on their way to lacing up their dancing shoes for the first time since the 2005 season. The Flyers are currently sitting in first place in the Atlantic 10 with a healthy 23-3 record going into this Saturdays game at St. Louis.
They have significant wins over both Marquette, and division rival Xavier on their resume (both still ranked in the top 20), as well as being undefeated at the University of Dayton arena this season.
Dayton Coach Brian Gregory (a former assistant of Tom Izzo's at Michigan State when the Spartans won the National championship), continues to stress to his team the importance of staying focused, noting that being ranked in the top 25 is good, (which the Flyers are for the first time this season #25) but being ranked in the top 25 isn't going to play defense for them.
However, it's the Flyers three losses that continue to both puzzle the Flyer faithful, and add serious steam to Dayton's detractors. The Flyers found themselves looking ahead not too long ago and fell hard to Atlantic Ten cellar dweller Charlotte. The 9 - 15 49ers dominated Dayton in what had to be the Flyers most pathetic performance of the season. The ill timed loss kept Dayton from taking advantage of division foe Xavier's surprise loss to Dusquesne the night before.
The Flyers also opened league play with a stunning loss to the University of Massachusetts that left fans struggling not to think about the late season collapse that rendered the Flyers very NIT worthy last season.
The Flyers only other loss was to Creighton, but unlike most i do not consider this a bad loss. Creighton is closing in on first in the Missouri Valley Conference as we speak so I move to strike the Creighton loss from the dreaded list of "BAD LOSSES" which is the term most connected with the three losses out of the Flyers first 26 games so far.
The key to Dayton's success this year has no doubt been their dominating defense. The Flyers held Xavier to their lowest point total of the season, and Dayton is 9-0 this season in games decided by five points or less.
Dayton definitely does not win pretty. In fact, sometimes they win just plain old ugly, but they win, and in the end winning is the name of the game. So barring a complete collapse within their final games of the season, go right ahead and finish lacing up those shoes Flyers. In March, when you find yourself bustin' a move in the biggest dance around, just remember what you've already learned from the regular season, and what the Flyer fans already know: No matter how ugly, ...Just Win!