As a student at Dayton, when you buy your tickets for the season, you are also given that year's student section t-shirt. On the back of this year's are the words "New Coach. New Era. Same Flyer Faithful.", in reference to our new fearless leader, Archie Miller. In my opinion, it is the best designed shirt we've been given in my time here, so I wore it to today's game vs. the Seahawks.
The game itself was almost unremarkable, as the Flyers came out swinging and by the 8 minute timeout were up to a lead of 24-8. The rout was on, as they say. Kevin Dillard and Chris Johnson were phenomenal, Dillard especially with his quickness and penchant for making flashy moves. By halftime, the lead was 21, and by the halfway point of the second half, the walk-ons were in and Dayton was, for all intents and purposes, in cruise control. The game ended 74-49, a welcome departure from last season where games against teams like Savannah St. were nailbiters. But something else happened on the way to the game that much more meaningful than a 25-point blowout.
On my walk to the arena, a trek which I was making alone today because my friends with whom I usually sit were busy and and the girl who I had invited to use one of their tickets, who happens to be the current object of my affection (no idea if the feeling is mutual) had a meeting today and therefore could not attend, I had a good amount of time to think. Obviously, feelings of excitement that basketball is back in Dayton started everything, but I started reflecting on how I had missed the home opener and I had no idea what to expect from this team. The "missed the home opener" part really stuck with me. If you had told "freshman me" two years ago, I'd be missing any basketball games for anything less than a catastrophe, much less a home opener, I would have told you that you needed psychiatric care. But that just wasn't the case this time.
College basketball is basically my life. Anyone who knows me at all knows it is my dream to coach, and I truly believe I would be miserable doing anything else. But I did miss the first game of the season. I had the opportunity to go down to Lexington, Kentucky the weekend before with my service fraternity and, knowing full well that would mean missing the basketball game. Turns out, I made the right decision. The memories that I have from that weekend are something I will cherish more than any basketball game ever could have made me. When that thought popped into my mind, I realized something. College basketball had been the most important thing in my life for quite a while, but the opportunities provided to me by this organization had made me realize that the people around me are the most important thing in my life.
So although there was an empty seat next to me, I couldn't help but feel a great deal of happiness in how great of a group of people I by which I am surrounded. In between the steals and the superhoops, I had an almost tangible feeling that I was right where I belonged and that I was finally starting to figure it all out. So although my shirt won't say it, my motto for this season has a little bit of a tweak to it. "New Coach. New Era. One Slightly Wiser Flyer Faithful."
at DAYTON 74, NORTH CAROLINA-WILMINGTON 49 11/19/2011
NORTH CAROLINA-WILMINGTON 0-2 (0-0) -- K. Rendleman 5-9 2-5 12; A. Smith 4-13 0-0 10; C. Ponder 3-6 1-2 7; T. Milson 1-6 0-0 3; C. Williams 0-2 0-0 0; K. Simmons 2-9 0-0 5; N. Anderson 1-2 0-0 2; F. Jackson 0-2 0-0 0; D. Morales 0-3 0-0 0; T. Deloach 0-1 0-0 0; M. Wilson 2-3 0-0 4; D. Sherwood 2-2 1-2 6; S. Reybold 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-58 4-9 49. DAYTON 2-1 (0-0) -- K. Dillard 8-14 1-1 18; C. Johnson 6-9 2-2 19; J. Benson 1-5 1-6 3; P. Williams 2-7 0-0 5; M. Kavanaugh 2-6 1-2 5; J. Parker 1-5 2-2 5; L. Fabrizius 3-5 2-2 9; D. Oliver 1-5 1-2 3; A. Gavrilovic 2-6 0-0 4; R. Hill 1-3 0-0 3; M. Asmus 0-1 0-0 0; B. Vonderhaar 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-66 10-17 74.
Three-point goals: UNCW 5-21 (T. Milson 1-5; N. Anderson 0-1; C. Ponder 0-1; D. Sherwood 1-1; K. Simmons 1-7; A. Smith 2-6), UD 10-26 (P. Williams 1-4; J. Parker 1-4; C. Johnson 5-7; L. Fabrizius 1-2; K. Dillard 1-4; R. Hill 1-3; A. Gavrilovic 0-2); Rebounds: UNCW 36 (K. Rendleman 12), UD 40 (M. Kavanaugh 8); Assists: UNCW 11 (T. Milson 5), UD 17 (K. Dillard 3); Total Fouls -- UNCW 19, UD 13; Fouled Out: UNCW-None; UD-None.