Monday March 16, 2009

Time to Dance

The Dayton Flyers celebrate with fans as the team lands an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Alumni invited to pre-game breakfast/pep rally in Minneapolis.

When Dayton’s name came up on the big board during the tournament seeding announcements Sunday night, players jumped out of their chairs, fans hopped and hollered, and Flyer cheerleaders rained a shower of balls and T-shirts down on the Frericks Center crowd.

The Flyers (26-7) are an 11-seed heading to Minneapolis. They will tip off against the West Virginia Mountaineers (23-11) at approximately 3 p.m. Friday, March 20.

But if those three facts — seed, location, opponent — were a game-show question, most of us at Frericks last night would’ve walked away penniless. A giddy coach Brian Gregory interrupted his “thank you, fans” remarks to ask where the team was headed. A moment later, guard London Warren did the same thing.

Warren is a fierce defender, but he was having a hard time defending himself from his own tears. Other players had damp eyes, high-fives, big hugs and smooth dance moves as they celebrated, hugged each other and fans, posed for pictures, and looked forward to another game.

The moment culminated a spectacular season. After winning 20 straight home games — just one short of the school record — the Flyers finished the season unbeaten at home for the first time since the UD Arena opened in 1969. The squad's wins are the most recorded in a regular season.

Alumni are invited to "get Flyered up" with the pep band and cheerleaders at a pre-game breakfast at 9:30 a.m. Friday, March, 20, at the McNamara Alumni Center on the East Bank of the University of Minnesota campus (200 Oak St. SE).

Cost is $15 for advance registration or $20 at the door. Call the alumni relations office at 1-888-UD ALUMS (1-888-832-5867) to register. Alumni also can register online on the University of Dayton's alumni Web site. For game ticket information, call 1-800-GOPHER.