Thursday December 21, 2006

Reaching Lofty Heights On and Off the Court

Flyers' point guard and business major Brian Roberts is on his way to keeping UD student-athletes among the nation's best in graduation rates. Now, he's heading into a week during which he hopes to put his team among the nation's best on the court.

University of Dayton point guard Brian Roberts is doing his part to keep the Flyers among the nation's elite in the classroom. Roberts can help put UD basketball in the same category on the court with wins against No. 7 Pittsburgh (8 p.m. Saturday) and No. 2 North Carolina (3 p.m. Dec. 31).

"It's a tremendous opportunity for our team, program and school," said Roberts, a marketing major who is the only Flyer hoopster ever named all-Atlantic 10 and academic all-Atlantic 10 in the same year. "We know we can compete, but we have to show it in those games. So far, we've done a pretty good job of being consistent and earning our record."

The Flyers (10-1), which received votes in this week's USA Today/ESPN and Associated Press polls, should climb the national rankings with a win in either game.

Such lofty goals are familiar for Roberts and his business school classmates. UD's School of Business Administration is nationally ranked in four categories.

Plus, 96 percent of the student-athletes who entered UD between 1996 and 1999 completed their degree - comparable to Georgetown, Boston College, Stanford, Northwestern, Notre Dame and Duke - according to the NCAA's latest Graduation Success Rate Report.

"That's an impressive group to be part of academically," Roberts said. "I knew, coming to UD, that it is a good academic school."

Roberts said he chose marketing because it combines business and psychology. He said he uses lessons from both on the floor.

"Sometimes, I may be a little too analytical, but I think things through and don't make hasty decisions. (In basketball) it helps not to panic," said Roberts, whom ESPN analyst Andy Katz listed as one of his five players to watch in his Dec. 11 column. "In business, you learn about dealing with teams, being an effective manager and influencing groups."

Roberts currently is among the national leaders in three-point field goal and free throw percentage. He also ranks among the Atlantic 10 Conference's top 10 in scoring, field goal percentage, assists and minutes played per game entering this week.