The first collegiate basketball team began play in Dayton during the 1903-04 season. Then known as St. Mary's Institute, the school's early teams were informally nicknamed "The Saints" by local sportswriters and competed against colleges, high schools, and club teams throughout the Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and New York region.1 In 1920 the school changed its name to the University of Dayton and its sports teams gradually became known as the Flyers. World War II brought a two year hiatus to the basketball program between 1943 and 1945. In 1947, Tom Blackburn succeeded James Carter as the school's first full-time head basketball coach. His leadership established Dayton as a national basketball power, winning the National Invitational Tournament in 1962, reaching the NIT finals six times during the 1950s and early 1960s, and securing a #2 AP ranking for most of the 1955-1956 season. In 1950, the Flyers constructed the University of Dayton Fieldhouse for their home games. Don Donoher took over as head coach when Blackburn died due to cancer in 1964. The 24-season Donoher era was one of Dayton's finest, producing eight NCAA tournament invitations and a trip to the NCAA finals in 1967. The UD Arena became the Flyer's home court at the start of the 1969-70 season.
The Flyers continued to enjoy success in the 1970s and 1980s, reaching the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in 1974 and Elite Eight in 1984. The team remained an NCAA independent until the 1987-88 season when the school began play in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference. The Flyers won the MCC conference tournament in 1990, advancing to the NCAA tournament second round. The Flyers moved to the Great Midwest Conference in 1993, but produced a dismal 1-23 conference record over their two seasons of league play. In 1995 the Flyers accepted an invitation to join the Atlantic Ten Conference where they remain today.
On April 9, 2003, the University of Dayton announced Brian Gregory would become the 18th head basketball coach for the Flyers. Gregory enjoyed immediate success with his new team, guiding the senior laden Flyers to a 24-9 record and a berth in the NCAA Tournament in his inaugural season.2 Gregory has compiled a 75-49 record with the Flyers through four seasons. The 2006-07 team finished the season 19-12 with wins over NCAA tournament bound Louisville, Creighton, Holy Crossdisambiguation needed, Miami, and George Washington.3
The Flyers opened the 2007-08 campaign with a 14-1 record and wins over 12th-ranked Louisville, 6th-ranked Pittsburgh and 22nd-ranked Rhode Island. On December 31 the team was voted into both Top 25 polls for the first time since 2003. The team reached as high as 14th in the AP Poll and 18th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. However injuries to Chris Wright and Charles Little derailed Dayton's season. The Flyers finished 9-10 in conference play, but 23-11 overall and were able to reach the quarterfinals of the NIT.