DAYTON — For the past five or six years, Dayton basketball coach Jason Santos has had legitimate big men.
This year, the cupboard is essentially bare. The Dust Devils, who open te season today at 1 p.m. at home against Wooster, don’t have a player over 6-foot-2 on its roster. Ty Pearson and Blake Blocker are both 6-2.
“I’ve always had at least one big guy,” said Santos, whose team is coming off a 12-10 season. “I had Bernardo (Macias) the last three years and before that I had Timo Ply. This year we’re pretty small. It is probably one of my smallest teams I’ve had.”
Santos does return seven players — 5-11 Julio Meza (2.7 points per game), 5-11 Dallon Mendoza (1.6), the 6-2 Pearson (1.5), 6-0 Jon Joyner (5.1), 5-10 Marcos Saylor (2.3), 6-0 Davis Winebarger (3.5) and the 6-2 Blocker (3.4 in 9 games). Up from the JV squad are 5-11 Jacksn Walker, 5-10 Josh Riders, 5-11 Dylan Munroe, 6-foot Marcos Leon and 6-1 Ian Hopper.
Small teams usually means playing up tempo, and that’s exactly what Santos would like to do.
“We’re going to try and run as much as we can,” Santos said. “Some of the kids aren’t that fast.
“We’re athletic in the sense that almost all the kids play anoher sport, but basketball isn’t their main sport. They are more interested in football or baseball. I only have a couple of diehard basketball players. Blocker plays (in Reno) and Jackson and Josh only play basketball.”
Dayton did scrimmage at Whittell and did OK accoding to Santos.
“We had five little scrimmages,” Santos said. “The first two we looked real good, but the last three I think we got tired.”
Santos will be expecting most of his points from Blocker, Winebarger, Joyner and Meza.
“Blocker I think will be our leading scorer,” Santos said. “Davis ended up last year scoring in double digits. I hope he can pick up where he left off last year. Hopefully he can average double figures.
“Joiner drew a lot of smaller defenders last year because we had (Austin) Fletcher and (Bernardo) Macias. He should be able to score a lot in the paint. I’m expecting Julio to do a little more offensively. He’s always been a defensive guy, somebody I put on the top guard on the other team. His jump shot looks better. He shot well from the perimeter. I’m hoping he can score more than he did last year and average 8 to 10.”
Santos said the Northern 1A is loaded again with Elko and Lowry expected to battle for the top spot again.
“Spring Creek only lost a couple of players and Sparks only lost one player so they will be pretty good. Fallon is big and athletic and Truckee lost just a couple of players. It’s going to be tough.”
Dayton will not host its own tournament because it was unable to get enough teams. The Dust Devils are playing in Truckee’s tournament.