Moments after entering a room at a New York City hotel this past March, Anthony Grant turned around, walked out and tried to collect himself.
When the Dayton men's basketball head coach returned, his players knew Grant, who had guided them through an undefeated Atlantic 10 season to secure a projected No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, had bad news.
The Atlantic 10 tournament at Brooklyn's Barclays Center had been canceled, and the Flyers would soon lose their shot at the school's first national championship after the NCAA tournament also was canceled amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
"He walked in first and then he walked back out," said Trey Landers, a senior who averaged 10.5 points per game during the 2019-2020 season and will represent the Dayton community as a member of Red Scare in The Basketball Tournament (TBT). "You could tell he was kind of emotional. He stood me up in front of everybody and hugged me and he just started crying. It was an emotional time."
As Ryan Mikesell, who also will play for Red Scare, listened to Grant four months ago, he tried to process the sudden ending of a magical season.
"All these assistants were hugging me and stuff and I still didn't want to believe it," said Mikesell, another senior, who averaged 8.5 PPG last season. "[Assistant coach Ricardo Greer] was holding me. I just walked out of the room. I was just so emotional. I couldn't believe it."
Red Scare, a team led by former Dayton standouts, will face Big X, a squad anchored by former Big Ten standouts Nick Ward and Trevon Hughes, on Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN.