Oct. 13, 2005
Last year, Dayton once again produced the Atlantic 10's best arena atmosphere by topping the attendance charts. For this season, the Flyer Faithful will see some new faces on the floor and on the bench for Brian Gregory's Flyers. Gregory and his staff bring two frontline players who may be making an immediate impact in the paint as freshmen in Charles Little and Desmond Adedeji. And Gregory's two additions to his coaching staff - Bob Beyer and Reggie Rankin - have already begun contributing to the program.
After finishing eighth as a team in the A-10 in defensive rebounding and without any individual players on the conference's top 20 rebounding list last season, the Flyers are excited about the frontcourt of the future. Desmond Adedeji
, a 6-9 center from Maryland, and Charles Little
, a 6-6 forward from Tennessee who can also play on the wing, both averaged in double digits in rebounding last year as high school seniors. While Adedeji will be asked to provide size up front, Little's best asset is his athleticism.
"The coaches have spent a lot of time with me, individually, trying to get me to bring my skill level up to my athleticism and make me a better player overall," Little said. "On a personal level, I just want to come in and contribute anyway I can."
A 2005 Class AAA Mr. Basketball Finalist in Tennessee, it was the atmosphere of the UD-Xavier game that convinced Little to join the Flyers, turning down scholarship offers from Mississippi, Tennessee, Houston, Penn State, and Boston College to attend Dayton.
"It was impressive just watching. I can only imagine that environment when you're actually playing in front of 13,000 people. I'm looking forward to it," he added. "I'm eager to get out there and ready to play. I know that if we play to our potential, we're one of the best teams in the conference. Our goal is to make the [NCAA] Tournament and then make some noise."
Adedeji is one of seven players from his high school roster to be playing at the next level. He averaged 12 points and 11 rebounds per game at DeMatha High School and understands the need to improve at the college level.
"I learned from the coaches early that it's a lot of hard work and dedication if you want to be good at this level," Adedeji said. "To whom much is given, much is expected. So I know the coaches expect more out of me, they expect me to learn quickly to get up to speed with the rest of the guys and contribute to this team. I'm definitely up for that."
At 6-foot-9 and 270 pounds, Adedeji provides a physical presence for the Flyers in the paint. And he knows the presence a good home crowd like the Flyer Faithful can provide.
"I'm looking forward to stepping on the court for our first game at the Arena. Everybody told me about the fans and all about the excitement of Dayton Basketball. I'm really hyped about that."
Little and Adedeji will be joined on the sidelines by a couple of new and experienced assistant coaches. Bob Beyer, 43, returns to college basketball this season after spending the 2004-2005 campaign working for the NBA's Toronto Raptors. Beyer got his start at Alfred University. His first head coaching position was with Siena, and from there he joined Northwestern's staff in 1997. Beyer coached under Bob Knight at Texas Tech from 2001-2003 before moving on to the NBA.
"It's exciting to be reunited with Coach Gregory at UD," Beyer says. "This program is poised to make a strong run towards an Atlantic 10 Championship. The team has a high level of energy and enthusiasm, and they want to keep getting better. That's a credit to BG and the quality of players - and the quality of each as a person - that we have in this Dayton program."
Also new to the sidelines is Reggie Rankin. Rankin, 38, will be replacing Dave Wojcik who left UD for Tulsa University. A former four-year letterman at Ohio University, Rankin comes to Dayton after five seasons with the University of Nebraska. He got his start at Bowling Green, and has also been on the coaching staff at Boston University, Wyoming, Ohio, and Georgia.
Rankin is looking forward to his stint with the Flyers and helping to continue what Gregory has already started with the program.
"After five months here at Dayton, I have enjoyed working with and getting to know the players and embracing Coach Gregory's family atmosphere. That starts with the staff and it carries on to the players and also to the community. Upon returning to Ohio, the reception I've received from the community and on the recruiting trail has been great. Now I'm looking forward to preparing for a great year of Flyer basketball."