Best of 2022: Top Dayton Flyers basketball stories from this year

Dec. 31—Anthony Grant doesn't like to say much about injuries, but that's what fans of the Dayton Flyers want to read about. Two of the most-read stories of the year on in 2022 had to do with injuries suffered by players.

» TOP 10: Most read stories of 2021 — 2020 — 2019 — 2018

As always, roster news also made the list. People want to know who's coming to Dayton, or who's leaving. However, the most-read story centered on a controversial moment during a game at Saint Louis.

Here's a look at the top 10 stories from 2022 about Dayton men's basketball:

1. Flyers dig early hole in loss to Saint Louis (Feb. 5)

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Dayton Flyers guard Malachi Smith had never seen his coach, Anthony Grant, so angry.

In Dayton's 72-61 loss Saturday to Saint Louis at Chaifetz Arena, the ball bounced out of bounds under the basket after a dunk by Saint Louis with 1:38 to play. Smith ran to get it so he could push the ball up the court. The ball rolled to Jordair Jett, a former Saint Louis guard who was inducted into the school's hall of fame at halftime.

Smith tried to get the ball from Jett, who had it between his legs.

"I wanted to go grab it," Smith said, "and he was like, 'Get the (blank) out of my face.' I said, 'Chill.'"

There was jawing at that point between Smith and Jett, and Grant ran from the Dayton bench to express his displeasure. He had to be held back by his players as Jett looked on from the baseline

"You don't go at a young man trying to compete on the court," Grant said. "If you're a fan, you stay in your place. That was weak."

The officials reviewed the incident, and minutes later, security guards escorted Jett out of the stands to loud applause from the Saint Louis fans.

"I was really (upset) a fan would do that, especially a grown man," Smith said.

UPDATE: Dayton and Saint Louis are the top contenders for the A-10 championship this season and play twice in the regular season.

2. Moulaye Sissoko enters the transfer portal (March 24)

Dayton Flyers forward Moulaye Sissoko entered the transfer portal late Wednesday night.

The Twitter account, which posts an update on every player who enters the portal, announced the Sissoko news, and Sissoko and teammate Mustapha Amzil shared the Tweet. As of early Thursday, there were 717 players in the portal, according to the Verbal Commits list.

"Good luck to my brother," Amzil wrote. "Great teammate and person."

UPDATE: Sissoko has not found playing time at North Texas. He's averaging 3.3 minutes per game after playing 7.0 minutes for Dayton last season. North Texas is 10-3.

3. Elijah Weaver enters transfer portal (March 29)

Elijah Weaver became the second member of the Dayton Flyers to enter the transfer portal since the end of the season on Tuesday.

Weaver joined teammate Moulaye Sissoko on the list of transfers kept by, which announces the names of all players who enter the transfer portal. There were 973 players on the list as of Wednesday afternoon.

The departures of Weaver and Sissoko, who made his decision last week, mean two of Dayton's 13 scholarships are open for the 2022-23 season. UD coaches could elect to add a player from the transfer portal or someone from the 2022 class or leave one or both scholarships open, adding flexibility for recruiting in the future.

UPDATE: Weaver attended Dayton's game against Wyoming in Chicago in December and hugged Grant after the game. He's averaging a career-best 10.9 points per game. Chicago State is 3-13.

4. Anthony Grant wants to raise awareness about mental health issues (June 7)

The University of Dayton released a statement on the behalf of head men's basketball coach Anthony Grant on Tuesday, four days after his daughter Jayda Grant, 20, was laid to rest.

"On behalf of my entire family, I want to express our heartfelt appreciation and gratitude for all your prayers, love, kindness, and words of encouragement following the passing of our daughter, sister, and family member, Jayda Danielle Grant," Grant said. "Jayda battled with mental health issues over the past two years and was in therapy and treatment in the weeks and months prior to her death.

"As we grieve our beloved Jayda, please know that our faith and your prayers sustain us and give us strength. We encourage all of you to be advocates for your personal mental health and the health of those you love.

"At the appropriate time, my wife (Chris) and I plan to advocate for more comprehensive mental health care and to do all we can to increase awareness around these issues. Thank you and God Bless."

In Jayda's obituary, the Grants asked for donations to National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in lieu of flowers.

5. Flyers first team left out of NCAA tournament field (March 13)

The Dayton Flyers were much closer to making the NCAA tournament as an at-large team than any of the experts thought even after a 68-64 loss Saturday to Richmond in the Atlantic 10 Conference semifinals.

On the Selection Sunday show on CBS, Dayton (23-10) was listed as the first team left out of the 68-team field.

Tom Burnett, of the selection committee, said Richmond's victory against Davidson on Sunday in the A-10 championship game knocked Dayton out of the field.

Seth Davis, of CBS, asked Burnett specifically about Dayton.

"Is it fair to say that Dayton was in the field before that happened," Davis said, "and what was it about Dayton's resume that really impressed the committee, because all of us amateur bracketologists out there didn't give the Flyers as much respect as you guys did?

"I think our committee's been tracking on Dayton throughout the year," Burnett said, "certainly over the last few weeks, and yes, with Richmond winning the A-10 tournament today, it did bump Dayton to the first four out list. Our committee has really liked Dayton and that conference certainly throughout the year and certainly very deserving of the consideration. Unfortunately (now) on the first four out list."

6. Malachi Smith injury costs Dayton flyers loss to Richmond (March 12)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The basketball gods dealt the Dayton Flyers another cruel blow.

Two years after the pandemic ended Dayton's NCAA tournament dreams, an injury may have prevented the Flyers from playing in March Madness for the first time since 2017. There's no guarantee No. 2 seed Dayton would have beaten Richmond with Malachi Smith for the whole game on Saturday or knocked off No. 1 seed Davidson on Sunday, but they stood little chance without their freshman point guard, who injured his ankle on the final play of the first half and did not return to the game.

No. 6 seed Richmond rallied from a 15-point deficit to beat Dayton 68-64 in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament at Capital One Arena, likely ending Dayton's slim chances of earning a NCAA at-large berth and extending an A-10 tournament championship drought that has seen UD fail to capture the tournament trophy every year since 2003.

After the game, Dayton coach Anthony Grant and forwards DaRon Holmes II and Toumani Camara talked at the postgame press conference about the loss of the game but also the loss of their spark plug, an A-10 all-rookie selection who was one of Dayton's breakout stars this season.

"He's disappointed," Grant said. "Certainly, it's a big loss."

UPDATE: Smith suffered two more ankle injuries in the offseason, the second of which caused him to miss most of the preseason. He then returned to action for four games but injured his ankle again.

7. Grant: Smith, Kobe Elvis 'out for foreseeable future:' (Nov. 28)

Dayton Flyers guards Malachi Smith and Kobe Elvis will be sidelined for "the foreseeable future," coach Anthony Grant said Monday night.

Grant talked to the voice of the Dayton Flyers, Larry Hansgen, on Flyer Insider on WHIO Radio in his first interview since Dayton's 79-75 loss Friday to Brigham Young in the seventh-place game of the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Elvis appeared to hurt his knee on a drive to the basket with 6:49 to play in the second half and left the game. In the final seconds of the second half, Smith turned his left ankle on a drive to the basket in a tie game and was carried to the locker room. It was his fourth game back since returning from a right ankle injury suffered in October.

UPDATE: As of Dec. 31, Smith and Elvis have missed six straight games, but Grant expects them to return at some point this season.

8. Dr. Stephen Levitt endows head men's basketball coaching position (June 22)

Dr. Stephen Levitt has missed two home games at UD Arena in the last 45 years: one the day after his mom died and the other because he had to renew his medical license. He owns 50 season tickets and never has trouble giving them away to friends. He comes to games hours early, greeting coaches and players as they walk to the court.

Levitt ranks among the biggest fans of the Dayton Flyers men's basketball program — and also the most generous. For years, he hosted a summer party for the program at his house in Kettering. In 2014, UD unveiled the Dr. Stephen B. Levitt Wall of Recognition on the south concourse of UD Arena, honoring benefactors who have given $100,000 or more to UD.

Levitt's latest donation is his biggest yet, though the exact amount will remain confidential. The University of Dayton announced Levitt has created a multi-million dollar endowment to fund the men's basketball head coaching position. The news was revealed Wednesday in an event, with more than 400 people in attendance, that also celebrated Levitt's 80th birthday at The Steam Plant in Dayton.

9. Flyers will play at Toledo in first round of NIT (March 13)

Hours after learning they were the first team left out of the NCAA tournament Sunday, the Dayton Flyers received a No. 1 seed in the National Invitation Tournament.

Dayton (23-10) can't play at home this week because of the First Four and will play at Toledo (26-7) in the first round at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The game will air on ESPN+.

Asked Monday about the disappointment of being left out of the NCAA tournament, Dayton Athletic Director Neil Sullivan said, "I'd say it's always a gut punch. I don't care if you're the first team out or the 10th team. Our goal is we want to be playing in March and advancing in the NCAA tournament. From my perspective, a miss is a miss regardless."

UPDATE: Dayton beat Toledo but lost in overtime at Vanderbilt in the second round. It would have played Xavier at home in the third round. Xavier beat Vanderbilt and went on to win the NIT.

10. Mike Sharavjamts adds to depth at point guard (July 14)

Fans of the Dayton Flyers debated all spring whether the coaches would add another point guard to the 2022-23 roster.

Dayton's depth at the position took a hit when Lynn Greer III transferred to Saint Joseph's in the middle of the season and Elijah Weaver left the program after the season, transferring to Chicago State.

That left the returning starter, Malachi Smith, and Kobe Elvis, who took over Smith's spot in the two NIT games when Smith was sidelined by an ankle injury, as the only two returning point guards on the roster, though Elvis doesn't play the position when Smith's in the game. Joining the mix, however, is 6-foot-8 freshman Mike Sharavjamts.

Sharavjamts arrived on campus on June 15. He's one of the 11 scholarship players participating in summer practices. Richard Amaefule, who redshirted last season, has been sidelined by an injury. Sharavjamts' teammates have had enough time now to get a sense of what he can do.

"He can do it all," Elvis said. "I've already seen him play a little bit of the point. I've seen him show us how how good of a passer he really is."

UPDATE: Sharavjamts began the season in the starting lineup and took over at point guard when Elvis and Smith suffered injuries.