The man who will attempt to keep Dayton atop the Atlantic 10 pecking order is a former Flyers player with a mixed track record as a head coach.
Dayton announced the hire of former VCU and Alabama coach Anthony Grant on Thursday, ending a week-long search for a replacement for Archie Miller.
“Anthony Grant is a proven winner with the highest integrity,” Dayton athletic director Neil Sullivan said in a statement. “He has successful experience in coaching, recruiting and playing basketball at an elite level. I welcome Anthony to our staff and look forward to partnering with him as we continue to aggressively pursue graduating student-athletes, winning conference championships and advancing in the NCAA Tournament. He is absolutely the right coach.”
An assistant coach under Billy Donovan at Florida from 1996 to 2006, Grant helped recruit many of the players who helped lead the Gators to back-to-back national titles in 2006 and 2007. He took over at VCU after the first of those two national titles, leading the Rams to three straight CAA titles and a pair of NCAA tournament bids.
At VCU, Grant developed lightly recruited Eric Maynor and Larry Sanders Jr. into eventual NBA players. He and his staff also recruited many of the players who would lead the Rams to the Final Four under Shaka Smart in 2011.
By then, Grant was at Alabama, where he lasted six years but did not enjoy the same success he did at VCU. Grant took the Crimson Tide to the NIT three times but only made the NCAA tournament once, a forgettable 2012 cameo appearance that ended with an opening-round loss to Creighton.
Despite a 19-loss 2013-14 season and the ballyhooed arrival of Bruce Pearl at rival Auburn, Alabama athletic director Bill Battle penned a heartfelt blog post expressing support for Grant. Wrote Battle, “This is a program that is not adrift, and is not devoid of leadership and talent. I believe this is a program that has better days ahead.”
Better days did not arrive quickly enough to save Grant. Alabama finished a mediocre 8-10 in the SEC the following year and the Crimson Tide cut Grant loose.
Grant is hoping for a better ending at his alma mater, but living up to the standard Miller set will not be easy.
Dayton made the NCAA tournament each of the past four seasons, captured at least a share of the Atlantic 10 title the past two years and reached the Elite Eight in 2014. The Flyers graduate their three leading scorers off this year’s team, guards Scoochie Smith and Charles Cooke and forward Kendall Pollard.
“I am honored and humbled to be the head coach at the University of Dayton,” Grant said in a statement. “It’s a great responsibility to take over at an institution that is so well-respected. Anyone you talk to in college basketball would say our program is a successful one, but the potential is here for so much more.”
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