'My mo­ment' has ar­rived for Crosby

Big­ger lift sought from point guard with Fly­ers need­ing to re­place Smith.

Dayton Daily News - - SPORTS - Con­tact this re­porter at 937-244-7400 or email David.Jablon­ski@cox­inc.com.

By David Jablon­ski Staff Writer

DAY­TON — John Crosby drops bits of wis­dom on Twit­ter ev­ery cou­ple of weeks with a unique style. Ev­ery word in his sen­tences starts with a cap­i­tal let­ter. Put them all to­gether over the months, and a pic­ture emerges of Crosby’s mind­set as he en­ters his ju­nior sea­son with the Day­ton Fly­ers.

June 8: “Rid­ing Through My Old Neigh­bor­hood Made Me Re­al­ize How Much I Grew Up!”

June 17: “Born To Lose But Still Some How Found A Way To Win.”

Aug. 25: “The World In A Rush & Im Just Over Here Be­ing Pa­tient Wait­ing On My Mo­ment!”

That mo­ment has ar­rived. Crosby had his chances in his first two sea­sons to earn more play­ing time. On

a whole, he strug­gled, com­mit­ting al­most as many turnovers (59) as as­sists (69) as a backup point guard be­hind Scoochie Smith.

How­ever, Crosby did show flashes at the end of last sea­son, even as his min­utes fluc­tu­ated, of be­ing ca­pa­ble of step­ping into the start­ing role. At the mid­point of his col­lege ca­reer, af­ter de­cid­ing to trans­fer from Day­ton in the spring and then chang­ing his mind, he’s con­fi­dent he can do just that.

If the Fly­ers are go­ing to have any chance of con­tend­ing for a third straight At­lantic 10 cham­pi­onship or play­ing in the NCAA Tour­na­ment for a fifth straight sea­son, they’ll need him to be their most-im­proved player.

“I think ev­ery day my ap­proach was to get bet­ter and fo­cus on the small things,” Crosby said Mon­day be­fore prac­tice. “I learned through the sea­son. It took me a lit­tle while, but when I got it, I got it. To­ward the end of the sea­son, I started play­ing bet­ter bas­ket­ball and turned it over less. I think this sea­son I’m go­ing to go through some ups and downs maybe, but I’m go­ing to get bet­ter from it. By the end of the sea­son, you’re go­ing to see the best John Crosby you’ve seen, and it’s go­ing to be like that so on and so forth for the rest of my ca­reer.”

Crosby com­mit­ted two turnovers in the last seven games of the 2016-17 sea­son. He played 54 min­utes in those, in­clud­ing five min­utes in Day­ton’s two post­sea­son games. In the seven games prior to that, he com­mit­ted 14 turnovers in 83 min­utes.

Crosby’s best per­for­mance also came in those fi­nal seven games. He had 12 points in 12 min­utes on 4-of-5 shoot­ing in an 83-70 vic­tory over Ge­orge Ma­son on Feb. 21 at UD Arena. That’s the Crosby the Fly­ers will need when the sea­son be­gins Nov. 10 against Ball State.

Crosby’s quick­ness makes him a good fit for new coach An­thony Grant’s up-tempo sys­tem. Play­ing un­der con­trol at the same time and mak­ing good de­ci­sions with the ball will be the key.

“For John and for all the guys, this is a new sys­tem, new ter­mi­nol­ogy, a new way of do­ing things,” Grant said. “I’ve been re­ally im­pressed with ev­ery guy on our team in their abil­ity to pick things up.

“For John specif­i­cally, his job is to be able to run our team at that point guard spot both of­fen­sively and de­fen­sively and set the tone for how we want to play. He’s done a good job in be­ing coach­able in terms of lis­ten­ing to things that my­self and my staff are telling him in terms of the things he needs to do on a con­sis­tent ba­sis to ac­com­plish the things he wants to ac­com­plish and help our team get to where it’s try­ing to get to.”

Crosby has ap­peared in 63 of 64 games the last two sea­sons, but if he starts the opener, it will be his first start. Smith never missed a game in four sea­sons.

Now Day­ton has a ros­ter with 10 schol­ar­ship play­ers. Half of those play­ers have never ap­peared in a col­le­giate game. The backup point guard is Jalen Crutcher, a fresh­man from Mem­phis. Se­nior Dar­rell Davis has ex­pe­ri­ence at that po­si­tion as well

The grad­u­a­tion of Smith and his fel­low se­niors — Charles Cooke, Kyle Davis and Ken­dall Pol­lard — opened the door for Crosby and others, and he said they have em­braced the op­por­tu­nity.

“We’ve just been try­ing to build trust with each other,” Crosby said. “Dur­ing the off­sea­son, we did a lot of team-build­ing things that will help us with gain­ing trust. I think we’re in a good spot right now head­ing into the sea­son and get­ting ready for the scrimmage we have in about two weeks. I feel con­fi­dent in the team we have and the coach­ing staff we’ve got.”

Day­ton has not an­nounced de­tails about that “se­cret scrimmage.” It can’t pub­li­cize the scrimmage, per NCAA rules. In re­cent sea­sons, the Fly­ers have scrim­maged Pur­due and Mar­quette.

With no Red and Blue Game this sea­son, fans won’t be able to see the new-look Fly­ers un­til Nov. 4 in an ex­hi­bi­tion game against Ohio Do­mini­can. The sea­son of­fi­cially be­gins Nov. 10 with a home game against Ball State. That’s when Crosby and his team­mates be­gin the tall task of liv­ing up to the stan­dards set by the last se­nior class, which set a school record with 102 vic­to­ries in the last four sea­sons.

“You’re a com­peti­tor, so you want to do bet­ter than those guys,” Crosby said. “Ev­ery day I take it as a chal­lenge to fo­cus on the lit­tle things. Be­ing around them, I re­al­ize how im­por­tant the small things are, the de­tails are. Those guys took it very se­ri­ous. That’s why those guys were so ready for those games and why they were so suc­cess­ful when they played. I learned a lot from them.

“With this new group and new staff, I take the small things se­ri­ous, lock­ing in and fo­cus­ing on the day and not wor­ry­ing about the sea­son. It’s just get­ting through ev­ery day and try­ing to get bet­ter ev­ery day and be­com­ing the best per­son you can be­come and the best team you can be­come. In the long run, it will work out.”


John Crosby has strug­gled in his first two sea­sons and even con­sid­ered trans­fer­ring, but he looked bet­ter at the end of 2016-17.

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