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GameDay means game on for the most faithful fans in the land

GameDay means game on for the most faithful fans in the land

Gita Balakrishnan March 07, 2020

Campus was buzzing with pride and excitement Saturday morning as students, alumni and fans lined up in the hundreds to watch ESPN’s College GameDay show air live in Frericks Center on a hallowed Fieldhouse basketball court now home to Flyers volleyball. Doors did not open until 9:30 a.m., but the Flyer Faithful began forming around the building as early as 5 a.m.

By 9 a.m., the student lines snaked past the chapel, and chants of “UD Flyers” were heard as far back as the Humanities Building.

Senior accounting major Morgan Jewett was one of the first students on campus, arriving at 5 a.m.

“I’m so excited to be here and be a part of this,” she said. “Just seeing campus like this so early in the morning, to know that ESPN is on our campus, makes me so happy. Right after this, we are headed straight to the Arena to camp out before the men’s game.”

Jewett’s anticipation and general feeling that she was part of a historic UD moment was shared by many students, most of whom didn’t mind the below freezing early-morning temperatures.

“We are all cold, but it doesn’t even matter,” Jewett said. “The crazy part is, all these chants and laughing and singing, it has not slowed down at all. I think it’s going to get even louder as the day goes on.”

It was not just current students who braved the cold to watch College GameDay. Alumni from across the state made the trip to campus.

Columbus resident John Zuccaro ’57 said he couldn’t remember a time since he was a student that UD basketball has been this successful.

“I have continued to follow the team and am a ticket season holder,” said Zuccaro, who attended UD during the 1955–56 season when the men’s team was ranked No. 2 nationally, the team’s highest ranking. “I’m just really enjoying all this excitement.”

As the ESPN program kicked off, the roars of students and fans inside could be heard even from the parking lot outside. With music blaring, the Pride of Dayton marching band hyped the crowd with UD favorites and signs promoting UD’s basketball program. The energy was electric.

College GameDay, a weekly pre-game show broadcast by ESPN, analyzed Saturday’s games and speculated on which teams will be part of the NCAA tournament, come Selection Sunday, and which teams will go far. “Everybody can lose, but not everybody can win,” co-host Jay Bilas told his fellow hosts. “But Dayton is one of the nine teams that can win this thing.”

Dayton goes into the final game of the regular season tonight against George Washington with an overall record of 28-2 and a conference record of 17-0. It is senior night.

While College GameDay was broadcasting from Frericks, the women’s basketball team was winning its semifinal game of the Atlantic 10 women’s championship tournament, held in UD Arena. The Flyers beat Saint Louis 58-50. The team is 24-8 overall and 15-1 in conference play. They play at noon Sunday in the finals at UD Arena.

It truly is a wonderful time to be a Flyer fan.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said UD soccer student-athlete Morgan Henderson. “Honestly, being a Flyer means so much more. Being a Flyer means to hustle, to be proud and show love when anyone in our athletics program does well. We are all just so happy.”