CHANDLER (AZ) -- Being an old-timer and one of the alleged ďblue hairsĒ that populate the Arena, I think that I have a good view of what the University of Daytonís menís basketball program has been for the last 50 years. I was there for most of the glory years and certainly there for the bottom of the barrel years. I was a season ticket holder for over 20 years and would fall asleep as a kid with my transistor radio safely hidden under my pillow listening to Tom Hamlin broadcast games against Loyola, DePaul and Louisville.
I have loved everything about the Flyers over the years and I have more UD garb than I care to admit. My favorite time of year is the NCAA Tournament and have even taken off Thursday and Friday of the first week to get to see all of the action. The sad thing is, I rarely get to see my Flyers. All too often I watch Xavier
playing in the Sweet 16 and hope my Flyers make it to the second round of the NIT.
I donít like to admit it, but I might as well start rooting for the Cubs. Every year the Cub fans turn out in droves to watch their team and hope for the best. Every once in a while the Cubs actually do well enough for the gullible fans to think they could be watching a championship club. Yet every year for over a century, the lovable Cubs stub their toe and fall down the ladder to another 3rd, 4th or 5th place finish.
Yet, every year, the fans keep coming back hoping that this would be their year and every year they get ready for winter knowing that their Cubs failed again. Iím afraid that is what we Flyer fans are becoming. Every year we start off thinking that this is the year the Flyers will make a run and every year we make up excuses for why we didnít and Xavier did.
Iím tired of rooting for the Cubs. I want to root for the Yankees. I want to feel the thrill of the NCAA Tournament for something other than how my bracket is doing. I want to feel like a Xavier fan feels every year. Iím jealous and Iím not afraid to admit it.
Every year I convince myself that this is the year that will be different. I have to admit that this was the year that I didnít. I was certain that we would only win 17 games and be lucky to make it to the NIT. Then the Flyers started winning at the beginning of the league season, Archie was going to win national coach of the year and UD was a 9 seed in the Tournament. Once again, I get sucked in just to be disappointed by another fall from grace.
Donít get me wrong, I think that Archie did a good job this year with the hand he was dealt. He had a couple brain farts along the way, but still did the things he needed to do to get a undermanned, under talented team to 20 wins. I have now given him his one year grace period. He has had an opportunity to see what it is like being the man. I expect those brain farts to go away. He will have a fuller bench next year and there should be no excuses for not having the right tools in the tool box.
With talented transfers, a good group of freshman enrolling in the fall and one of the leading candidates for A-10 Player of the Year, this team should be good enough to contend for the league title. Another 9-7 season will not be good enough. Another season sitting on the sidelines when the bracket is revealed will not be good enough. When hired, Miller implied that it would take him two years before we could expect the type of recruits that is needed to be a regular in the Tournament. After seeing Lehigh and Norfolk State knock off 2 seeds and watching Ohio U make it to the Sweet 16 when two weeks ago it didnít look like they could get in, I have no more patience.
The University of Dayton has the tools to succeed. You have to wonder if they had the desire. Would they have fired Brian Gregory
if he would have continued winning 7 or 8 games in the league every year? I doubt it. People were still showing up, they were still making money.
It is time for this program to succeed. Iím tired of hearing the phrase ďGetting to the next level.Ē It is time they get in the Tournament and win games. As Peter Finch yells in the movie Network, ďIím mad as hell and Iím not going to take it anymore.Ē
Itís time to start winning.