No. 11 Dayton’s program in a good spot heading into next season

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The run came to an end on Saturday night, as No. 11 Dayton ran into top-seeded Florida, who knocked off the Flyers 62-52 while advancing to their first Final Four since 2007.

Dayton never really threatened the Gators, but they kept the score close enough that gamblers had their evening made — or ruined — by a meaningless jumper from Dyshawn Pierre with 19 seconds left. Given how well Florida is playing these days, there are worse things that can be said about the Flyers, especially when you consider the fact that this loss took place in the Elite 8.

That’s not the way that the Flyers wanted to bow out of this tournament. Even Cinderella has their sights set on the Final four when they’re only a game away, which should tell you about how successful this tournament run was for Dayton.

The question now becomes the future of this program, and while they’ll lose Devin Oliver, Vee Sanford and Matt Kavanaugh, the good news is that, for now, Dayton will return the most important part of their program: Archie Miller.

The younger brother of Arizona head coach Sean Miller, the son of a well-known high school coach in Pennsylvania, a product of N.C. State and a former Thad Matta staffer, Archie has the pedigree of a coach destined to be a star. It was only a matter of time until he was going to have his name pop up in every coaching search in the country. A run to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament simply sped up that process, but Dayton put a stop to that movement with a vengeance, locking Miller into a contract extension last Monday.

Along with Miller, the Flyers will return Pierre, their leading scorer, and Sibert, who may actually be their most talented offensive weapon. Throw in sophomore Scoochie Smith and incoming freshmen Darrell Davis and Steve McElvene, and Dayton will have a nice blend of quality experience and talented youngsters. In other words, the direction that this program is heading is a positive one.

Will they be able to replicate the success they had this season anytime soon?

Who knows.

They can probably earn a bid to the tournament next season, but that’s no guarantee that wins over programs like Ohio State, Syracuse and Stanford will happen again.

The bottom line is this: the Flyers will have talent and be well-coached for at least one more year, and as we learned this season, that’s enough to put together a run to the Elite 8.

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.