For a minute I forgot what game I was at Wednesday.
The crowd at the University of Dayton Arena was as loud as it’s ever been every time the home team scored or made a defensive stop.
But the home team was not UD. It was Wright State, playing in the First Four of the NCAA Tournament and picking up its first win in the “Big Dance” in four tries.
As expected, the arena was full of fans wearing the green and gold of WSU. But no doubt there were a lot of Flyer fans cheering on the Raiders as well. At one point late in the game another reporter looked at the WSU Guardian reporters and said “This is nuts” as fans other than those rooting for Bryant were cheering “Let’s go Raiders.”
The players noticed it too.
“Obviously that was a really cool feeling,” Grant Basile said of hearing the cheers for WSU.
Coach Scott Nagy also felt the vibe.
“I don’t think since I’ve been here we’ve played in that kind of atmosphere with that many people cheering for us,” he said.
If the fan bases can get together to create that kind of atmosphere on national television (well, anyone who has TruTV), it’s not unreasonable to think the two schools should get back on the court together as well.
Yes. It’s time.
Bring back the Gem City Jam. It’s been nearly 25 years and that’s long enough. Wright State has seemed willing to do it.
Dayton, it seems, hasn’t.
Previous reasons include strength of schedule and money, as in the amount UD brings in with every home game.
It can’t be about the opponent.
Alabama State (313), Austin Peay (288), Lipscomb (269), and UMass-Lowell (248) all ranked below WSU (191) in NET rankings (358 teams), which is what the NCAA Tournament selection committee uses instead of RPI.
UD played them all and lost to all but Alabama State.
It’s can’t be about lost revenue. The Flyers are willing to go on the road to play in early season tournaments instead of bringing in some other “buy games” so it’s not likely UD will go bankrupt by playing at the Nutter Center every other season.
But even more importantly, the Miami Valley needs this game.
It’s been a rough stretch. We’ve had a couple devastating tornadoes, a mass shooting in the Oregon District, a massive water shortage due to a leak, and financial issues at WSU that led to sports being cut. And of course, COVID-19 has made things suck too.
The game will for sure fill both arenas. Plenty of money could be raised for charities. That’s a good thing.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.