Providence is next up in Dayton's basketball-a-thon
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Win an NCAA Tournament game. Celebrate. Get on a bus. Prepare for the next game - the fifth in eight days.
From Brooklyn to Columbus with a pit stop at home, the Dayton Flyers have been college basketball's busiest team.
''We don't get tired,'' Dayton guard Scoochie Smith said Thursday, about 19 hours after the Flyers rallied to beat Boise State in the First Four. ''Can't afford to get tired.''
The next game in Dayton's basketball-a-thon is against sixth-seeded Providence and Big East player of the year Chris Dunn on Friday at Nationwide Arena.
The 11th-seeded Flyers got to Columbus around 1 a.m. Thursday after making the 80-mile bus trip from Dayton on I-70.
''It was rough,'' said senior Jordan Sibert, the Ohio State transfer who hit a key 3-pointer late against the Broncos. ''Just leaving the game and trying to get on a bus and come right up here right after the game. But we did a good job just sticking together and making sure that we enjoyed the moment last night, but as soon as we got back, we tried to get rested up as much as possible. Now we're just moving on to the next game.''
The next games have been piling up for the Flyers, who reached the final of the Atlantic 10 championship in New York last week, wrapping up with a loss to VCU on Sunday.
That's a lot of ball, especially for a team with only seven players currently on scholarship.
''We've lost a lot of practice availability,'' coach Archie Miller said. ''We've lost the ability to do that in the last 10-12 days because of all the games. It's more of a physical thing. And getting ourselves ready to go physically is the biggest thing, because mentally, we're ready to go.''
The Friars are in the NCAAs for the second straight season under coach Ed Cooley. They lasted only one game last season, but it was one of the best of the tournament. Providence let a lead slip away against North Carolina and lost by two as an 11 seed.
Now the Friars are on the other side of the 6-11 matchup, but basically playing a road game.
Dayton getting a home game to start the tournament and then playing so close to home as an 11 seed has been the source of much debate since Selection Sunday, but Providence doesn't seem to mind.
''We're actually excited about it,'' Cooley said. ''We're here to compete the best we can, and not so much worry about the crowd.''
Some things to know as Dayton happily tries to lengthen what has already been a long week.
Providence star LaDontae Henton, from Lansing, Michigan, had signed with Dayton out of high school, but when coach Brian Gregory left the Flyers for Georgia Tech, Henton had second thoughts. Miller agreed to let him break his commitment and find a new place to play.
''I'm a firm believer in everything happens for a reason,'' Henton said. ''It's been a right fit ever since I came here. And I think it's one of the best decisions I made in my life to come to Providence College, and everything is working out for the best.''
Henton has 2,041 points and 1,043 rebounds in his career, making him the second player in school history to reach both 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. The 6-foot-6 forward was the Big East's leading scorer this season at 20.1 points per game.
Despite not having a player taller than 6-6 on the roster, Dayton has managed to hold its own on the boards.
The Flyers have only been outrebounded by about one per game (32.6 rebounds allowed to 31.4 gained), though Boise State outrebounded them 33-25.
Freshmen forward Ben Bentil became a starter for Providence in late December when Cooley decided junior Tyler Harris would give the Friars some needed experience off the bench. Bentil has surged late in the season.
He had 21 points and 10 rebounds in the second-to-last regular-season game against Seton Hall and then had a double-double in each of the Friars' two Big East Tournament games.
''I still think Tyler is our third option, if you want to call it an option,'' Cooley said. ''And Ben is just emerging in front of ours eyes every single day. And the more he slows down, the more efficient he's becoming. He's not thinking. He's playing.''
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP