The Dayton Flyers were flying high after their Thursday win against Ohio State. Friday, they came back to earth. They insisted they're here on a business trip, nothing more. That game against lordly Syracuse on Saturday? Just business. Vee Sanford set the tone. A day after hitting the shot heard 'round Ohio – "THE University of Dayton" proclaimed the OSU-tweaking headline in the Dayton Daily News – Sanford tried not to talk about the shot at all. Here's how he answered the first question at a Friday news conference on whether his contested runner down the lane was the biggest shot of his life: "It was a very big shot personally, but kind of just getting that out of the way. I want to focus on tomorrow. That's the main thing. As a team, we want to focus on tomorrow. It was a good win, but now it's Syracuse we've got to focus on." Well, OK, but how do you come off a high like that? "You just got to have a business approach, the whole advance mentality," Sanford said. "Enjoy the moment while you can, but it's on to the next. I feel like with the team, we have a business approach to everything, which is helping us focus in on the next game." Sanford's business-like answer set a tone. All the giddiness of turning the state of Ohio on its ear gave way to a New York state of mind: Beating Syracuse in Buffalo. Saturday's doubleheader here features three teams from the old Big East – Syracuse plus the combatants in the other game, Villanova and Connecticut – leaving Dayton of the Atlantic 10 as the outlier. But the Flyers have a Big East connection, too. Sanford transferred to Dayton after two years at Georgetown, Syracuse's biggest rival in the old alliance. "Yeah, it was a big rivalry, Georgetown‑Syracuse," Sanford said. "I'm just looking at it as another game. I'm a Flyer now, and I'm just happy for the opportunity to be playing in this game." Dayton coach Archie Miller called the Atlantic 10 "underrated" and said it has maintained high quality amid the turbulence of shifting conference alignments, calling it "as strong now as it ever was." He said the league deserved its six bids to the tournament, a source of some controversy among power conference snobs. The Flyers made a statement about their place in Ohio on Thursday. On Saturday they get a chance to make a statement about their league amid this so-called Big East reunion. "I think there's a little bit of a chip on your shoulder when you're in the Atlantic 10," Miller said. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim tried not to talk about the Big East angle. "I've only looked at Dayton," he said, "so I can't help you with that one." It's not that he's tired of all the Big East talk, Boeheim said, "I just don't think about it anymore. You've got to move on. It's like you don't ask questions about someone's ex‑wife, do you? There's a good reason for that. You can only get in trouble with answering that question, if you're married again." The Syracuse and Dayton basketball programs have met just twice before – they split in the 1970s – but they nearly met earlier this season. Syracuse beat Baylor to win the EA Sports Maui Invitational in November. It could have been Dayton, which lost to Baylor 67-66 in the semis. Boeheim offered only praise for the Flyers. "We think Dayton's terrific," he said. "We happened to see them play in person in Hawaii three times. So we know how good they are before we ever got" to Buffalo.
For Dayton, NCAA ebullience gives way to business
USA Today | Mar 22