Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 1/24/12
In a conference full of good point guards, Dayton's Kevin Dillard may be proving himself to be the most valuable of the group. Dillard has been the key performer for the Flyers from the get-go, leading his team in scoring (12.3 through games of Jan. 21) as well as handing out 111 assists in the first 19 games. "Kev's doing a really nice job for us," coach Archie Miller said. "He's done a really nice job for us from the very first game until obviously when we finished up on (Jan. 21). "I think he has been pretty much the same player that he's been every game. He's getting better. He's getting better in our system, learning the reads. "He's passing the ball extremely well right now and getting guys easy baskets, which is what a point guard is supposed to do. "If there's a point guard in our league that's more valuable to their team than Kevin is to ours, I'll argue that to the death." The transfer from Southern Illinois was a crucial player in Dayton's 87-72 win over Xavier in the battle for the conference lead, scoring 16 points and handing out nine assists while playing 38 minutes. "I see him as a big difference," Xavier coach Chris Mack said when asked what impact Dillard has had on the Flyers. "He dances off ball screens. He gets in the lane. He's exceptional at finding his teammates for layups. "A lot of guys will make the pass if it's open, but he can anticipate someone getting open. He has a great IQ about him when it comes to making his teammates better. "He's as good of a guard as we've played all year." NOTES, QUOTESGruden's pep talk precedes win over rival Xavier --Former NFL coach Jon Gruden, a Dayton alumnus, not only attended the Flyers' win over Xavier on Jan. 21, but he gave the team an impromptu pep talk before the game. Gruden, Class of 1986, told the Flyers he was just going to emphasize three key things. "You gotta be physical," he said. "You know it's going to be a physical game. That doesn't mean you make stupid penalties, stupid fouls, but make sure it's physical. When you go to the rack, when you set a pick, make sure it's a physical basketball game." The second thing, he said, was to finish plays. "Your effort is going to be on display for the world today," he said. "You guys with me on that? So you've got to finish plays. "And the last thing I want to say to you is you've got to make plays." Coach Archie Miller and the players presented Gruden with a jersey before he left the locker room. --Junior C Matt Kavanaugh, who is 6-foot-9, was up against Xavier's 7-foot C Kenny Frease, and there was little doubt who came out on top in the matchup. Kavanaugh scored 20 points, three off his career high set the week before in a win over La Salle, and just missed a double-double with nine rebounds. He was 8-for-9 from the field. Frease had only five points and five rebounds and shot 2-for-8. --Dayton shot an even 50 percent from the floor for the game in the win over Xavier, the first time since a 26-of-45 effort against USC-Upstate on Dec. 11 that the Flyers have shot 50 percent or better from the field. The season high for the Flyers was a 60.9 percent performance (28-for-46) in a win over Alabama on Dec. 7. BY THE NUMBERS: 10-1 -- With the 87-72 win over Xavier on Jan. 21, Dayton won for the 10th time in 11 games when scoring more than 70 points. QUOTE TO NOTE: "That's how we're built. That's how we're going to be built from now until the end of time here with me." -- Coach Archie Miller, on Dayton's balanced scoring for the season with five players averaging better than nine points a game through Jan. 21. STRATEGY AND PERSONNELTHIS WEEK'S GAMES--at Saint Joseph's, Jan. 25KEY MATCHUPS: The Hawks have lost three in a row after stepping out of conference play and losing to Penn in a Big Five game on Jan. 21. G Langston Galloway had 32 points in the loss, his second 30-point effort in his last four games. G Carl Jones sat out the Xavier game with a sprained ankle but played 36 minutes and scored 14 points against Penn. --vs. Rhode Island, Jan. 28KEY MATCHUPS: Freshman F Jonathan Holton has given the Rams a lift with his work on the boards, and junior F Nikola Malesevic has returned to the lineup, scoring 12 points against La Salle in his first game since breaking his hand on Dec. 18. G Andre Malone and G Billy Baron have added scoring punch in the backcourt. FUTURES MARKET: Senior F Chris Johnson, still recovering from a head injury, played 32 minutes against Xavier but scored only five points. He had six rebounds, however, and blocked two shots. His averages had slipped to 10.0 points and 5.5 rebounds a game through Jan. 22, but coach Archie Miller takes the responsibility for that, pointing out that Johnson has given up some of his offensive numbers but has come through on the boards, on defense, and with his leadership. "We couldn't be where we are at without him," Miller said, nothing that Johnson missed the loss to St. Bonaventure, Dayton's only setback in the first five league games. PLAYER NOTES Freshman F Alex Gavrilovic is giving the Flyers valuable time off the bench. He had seven points and two rebounds in the win over Xavier, and he scored 44 points and grabbed 25 rebounds in Dayton's first five conference games. --Senior G Josh Parker scored 16 points off the bench against Xavier, going 5-for-7 from the field (3-for-5 on 3-pointers). He had scored in double figures in three of Dayton's last four games through Jan. 22.
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