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October 15, 2009
An at-large bid to the NCAA tournament and a first-round upset of West Virginia has Dayton thinking it could to do what it hasn't done in school history - win the A-10 regular-season title. Members of the A-10 since 1996, the Flyers have plenty of reason for optimism: They return four starters and 10 of the top 11 scorers. To be the best in the league, Dayton needs to beat the best - namely Xavier. Dayton has not defeated the Musketeers away from University of Dayton Arena since 1981. They also need to be better on the road in league play after going 3-5 last season.
Chris Wright led Dayton in scoring and rebounding last season.
Junior forward Chris Wright is a big-timer. The Flyers were headed to an NCAA berth during his freshman season before an ankle injury ended his year; the Flyers faded down the stretch. He came back strong last season and led the Flyers in scoring (13.3) and rebounding (6.6), and is a top candidate for league player of the year this season.
Senior Kurt Huelsman isn't flashy, but he's a dependable shot-blocker and rebounder. Sophomore Chris Johnson could be a breakout candidate after playing part of last season on a bad leg. There are a number of other big bodies that the coaching staff can mix-and-match, depending on matchups.
Dayton has enviable depth at point guard with London Warren and Rob Lowery, who returns after missing the final 10 games last season with a knee injury. They combined for 238 assists last season, and Warren was the Flyers' top defensive player. Marcus Johnson is an active guard who averaged 11.8 points and played solid defense. As a whole, the group needs to shoot better. The Flyers ranked 12th in the league in field-goal percentage (42.1 percent) and 11th from beyond the arc (32.8).
Xavier's personnel losses combined with the returning nucleus in Dayton makes the Flyers the league favorite. Dayton has great depth and plays aggressive, in-your face defense, but the Flyers must become more efficient on offense.
Preseason rankings were compiled by basketball writers David Fox, Mike Huguenin, Jason King and Steve Megargee.