UD Head Coach Brian Gregory and the Flyer Faithful cheer as the UD women's basketball team is honored
Photo Gallery - Photos by Erik Schelkun, Elsestar Images
DAYTON, Ohio – The University of Dayton held a celebration Friday night at UD’s Frericks Center to honor the Flyers men’s and women’s basketball teams and their great seasons. An estimated crowd of just under 2,500 came to campus to recognize the men’s basketball team’s 2010 NIT Championship and the women’s basketball team’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Joining the Flyer Faithful and University community in recognizing the Flyers were UD Hall of Famer and former coach Don Donoher and Dayton mayor Gary Leitzell.
Donoher, who played in the NIT as a Flyer guard and coached UD to its 1968 NIT championship said, “There are bigger and better things to come for both of these teams. There is such rich tradition and that tradition has a starting point. For that reason, I wish we could have Coach Tom Blackburn here tonight. You were his kind of team. He would have loved watching this team play. He admired toughness, resiliency and togetherness. The 2010 Flyers define those three things.
“This team had, by far, the toughest path to the NIT title of all the UD teams,” he added. “Tonight we are here to recognize you for the great way you represented the Red and Blue.”
While Donoher's focus was to give a historical perspective to the NIT championship, he also spoke a bit to the future. "In 1967, we went to the Final Four. Then in 1968, after a few bumps in the road we won the NIT. Why can't we switch that around? Win the NIT this year, and go to the Final Four next year."
Leitzell presented the two teams with “blue prints” from the city that recognizes both teams as “Dayton Originals.” He said, “The University of Dayton has been a fabric of this community for many years. The future of this city depends on teamwork and partnership and UD has stepped up on both those fronts.”
It was a Year of Firsts for the Dayton women’s basketball program. The Flyers made their first trip to the NCAA Division I tournament, and captured their first win in the tournament with a last-second come-from-behind win over TCU. Finishing 25-8 on the year, UD also earned its first win over a Top 10 team in the season-opener against Michigan State and was ranked in the Top 25 for the first time in school history.
UD women’s coach Jim Jabir said “This team has so much character. They believe in the principles of the University of Dayton. I’ve never been more proud of a group than I was after we came back to beat TCU.
“This (celebration) is new to us but we like it a lot and we could really get used to it,” he added. “I’m proud of the culture we have built and hopefully, the second round is something we surpass next year.”
The Dayton men’s basketball team finished the season as the 2010 NIT Champions after posting a 25-12 overall record. UD defeated four consecutive BCS programs in its NIT title run and the Class of 2010 tied a program record with 94 victories over a four-year period. The seniors also won more post-season games than any other class at UD in the last 42 seasons.
Flyer men’s coach Brian Gregory said, “We are here tonight to celebrate two tremendous seasons and two tremendous teams. This success is just the beginning for the women’s team. Like Kendel Ross on the women’s side, our seniors have left a legacy.”
To conclude the festivities seniors Marcus Johnson and London Warren unveiled the 2010 NIT Championship trophy, placing it on a table next to the 1962 and 1968 trophies.
“You can’t have something great without understanding those who built the tradition, values and foundation. To have Coach Donoher come back today may be the biggest thrill for me in my seven years coaching here,” said Gregory. “We are all just trying to follow in Coach Tom Blackburn’s footsteps and make him proud. Hopefully, somewhere he is looking down and is very proud tonight.”
Together, the two programs combined for 50 wins and had nine players earn Atlantic 10 post-season awards. All eight seniors who played basketball for Dayton this season – Dan Fox, Luke Hendrick, Kurt Huelsman, Marcus Johnson, Rob Lowery, Mickey Perry, Kendel Ross and London Warren – will receive their degrees on May 2.