Team preview: Dayton
Blue Ribbon Yearbook previews the 2006-07 college basketball season, exclusively on Insider.
(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)
Dayton coach Brian Gregory wants the ball in Brian Roberts' hands as much as humanly possible this year.
He just doesn't want it there as a point guard.
The Flyers already went down that road last season. And although the move proved to be a decent fit for the 6-2 junior (16.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.5 apg), who earned All-Atlantic 10 second-team and team MVP honors, it proved to be a terrible one for the team, as evidenced by its 14-17 record.
Gregory was forced to move Roberts from his natural wing position to point guard because of a lack of production from his upperclassmen. He knew the move would have a negative impact on the team.
"We thought we had a pretty good chance [heading into the season]," Gregory said. "But that happens and it hurts us, because it bumps everybody over one spot.
"It was a big thing."
Gregory would rather not be forced into making such a move this year, and he doesn't think he will be with the addition of a pair of point guards, Andres Sandoval, a transfer from Santa Fe Community College in Florida, and freshman London Warren.
Although the 6-2 Warren brings a nice resume with him from William Raines High in Jacksonville, Fla., where he averaged 21.5 points and 7.5 assists, the 6-4 Sandoval has some good stats, too, and something even more valuable -- A-10 experience.
Dayton fans may recognize Sandoval from his one season with Richmond. He started 19 games 2004-2005, averaging 6.1 points and 2.5 for the Spiders, including a five-point, two-assist performance against the Flyers. Sandoval appeared to be part of a bright future for Richmond. But coach Jerry Wainwright left to take the DePaul job, and Sandoval was right behind him, choosing to attend Santa Fe instead of immediately transferring to another Division I school.
At Sante Fe he averaged nine assists, drawing interest from Florida, Purdue, Texas A&M and DePaul before deciding on Dayton.
"Sandoval has played in this league and has had success in it," Gregory said. "During the second half of the A-10 season his freshman year, he was as good as any freshman guard in the league.
"He's going to have the ball in his hands quite a bit."
In addition to his preternatural ability to find the open man, Sandoval knows how to use his large frame. He averaged more than three rebounds per game for the Spiders and led the team in steals.
"I could see him being our second- or third-leading defensive rebounder," Gregory said. "We'll be able to fast break better with a guard handling rebounding."
If Sandoval can nail down the point, Roberts should have an even bigger year than his coming-out party last season. Sandoval's move to point will have an immediate impact on Roberts' three-point shooting. That is to say, there will be more of it. Roberts, who has shot threes at a 42-percent clip so far in his career, has the athletic ability to create his own shot, but playing on the wing will allow him to get better looks.
A lot was placed on Roberts' shoulders last season, and he responded. In addition to running the offense, Roberts was sometimes his team's only scoring threat. Because of that, Gregory thinks there is a tendency to assume Roberts' development is complete, when it has only just begun.
"He turned into one of the elite players in our league," Gregory said. "But his biggest thing is he's got to get better at consistency."