Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Trenton Twins Spell Double Trouble For Division III FDU-Florham Opponents

By Rob Knox

@robknox1

FDU-Florham junior guards Kyra and Kara Dayon are a pair of fun-loving twins who like to laugh, play basketball, watch “The Jamie Foxx Show” and eat seafood.

The Geminis from Trenton, N.J., are extremely close and having a blast contributing to the success of 18-0 and ninth-ranked FDU-Florham women’s basketball team.

Since they are roommates, Kara witnesses a sarcastic side of Kyra on occasion, especially if Kara moved one of Kyra’s belongings out of place. Kyra, who is older by one minute, is particular about how she arranges objects in her room. Kyra knows exactly how she folded her clothes and stacked books on her desk.

“She’s the mean one,” Kara said recently. “Here’s a good example. If I move something, she’ll yell, but then she’ll say ‘I am sorry, I didn’t think that’s where it was supposed to be.’ I love her because she’s always there for me. She gets in my head and keeps me motivated.

"Tonight I didn’t score (against Eastern), but she was right there to tell me that my defense was good and she said at least you’re getting stops.”

The Dayon sisters have an unbreakable bond.

They are the second set of fraternal twin sisters in their family. Their older sisters, Cora and Coral are twins as well and they played at Trenton Central High School.

Kyra and Kara deepened those footsteps and raised the bar of success during their careers at Trenton Central by leading the Tornadoes to numerous playoff appearances and four winning seasons.

“We are always around each other,” Kyra said. “There’s not a day that doesn’t go by that I can get mad at her or tell her to get out of my face. I don’t know, I just love being around her and it doesn’t get boring.”

The Dayons have also kept their fans entertained as they have helped lift the FDU-Florham program to unimaginable heights during a memorable beginning to this season.

Currently, the Devils are off to their best start in school history. They have their sights on goals higher than just qualifying for the NCAA Division III tournament for the second straight season.

Averaging 15.8 points per game, 8.0 rebounds, 3.4 steals and 3.1 assists per game, Kyra is a ruthless scorer who combines textbook fundamentals with mesmerizing flair.

One of the most exciting players in the nation, Kyra has a feathery jump shot along with a smorgasbord of offensive moves that make whenever she has the ball a must-see event. She can bang down low with bigger and stronger defenders, jump out the gym, break ankles of slower defenders, shoot over mesmerized opponents and get her teammates great looks anytime she wants to.

A fourth-team All-American following her sophomore season, Kyra has reached double figures 16 times this season and posted five double-doubles.

She has scored at least 20 points four times this year following her 24-point effort against Wilkes in a 70-59 win last Saturday. She had 10 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in a 72-54 win over Delaware Valley on Wednesday night. That performance upped her career point total to 1,208.

Kara has cat-like quickness and often resembles a human handcuff because of her ability to play lock-down defense. She averages 8.8 points per game, 3.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.5 steals. Kara hit for a season-high 20 points against Manhattanville two weeks ago. Kara Dayon had 16 points and seven boards against the Aggies on Wednesday night.

Beneath Kara and Kyra’s affable veneers is the fierceness of a lion.

Kyra, who enjoys watching Rajon Rondo, had her choice of schools as she has the game to make an impact on the Division II and mid-major Division I level, but two reasons she ended up at FDU-Florham was the opportunity to continue playing with her sister, Kara, and because of head women’s basketball coach Marc Mitchell.

“They are fantastic kids,” Mitchell said. “They bring balance to our practices and they make me laugh which is hard to do. They’re just great for our program. In the recruiting process one of the first things I said to her brother (Clifford Williams) that if they come to FDU, they will change our entire program and they have.”

The twin connection was never more evident than during a basketball showcase at FDU-Teaneck, the summer before their senior year at high school.

On one court and under the watchful eye of FDU-Florham assistant coach Jessica Cavaco, Kara was devouring the competition. On another court with Mitchell observing, Kyra was dominating.

When the two coaches got together to compare notes, they were both raving about Kara and Kyra without knowing they were twin sisters in the beginning.

From there, one or both of them were fixtures in the stands in Tornado Alley, the affectionate name for Trenton Central’s gym.

Mitchell still mixes up the Dayon twins even though they are usually distinguishable by their hairstyles and bright fluorescent sneakers. Kyra wears her hair down while Kara wears her hair in a stylish bun. Mitchell affectionately refers to them by their uniform numbers “15” and “14.”

Not only did Mitchell get the Dayon sisters from Trenton Central, he also got Quaneshia Harrison and Robin Peoples from that same team. Just a quick thought, maybe the iconic neon-lighted sign on the Route 1 bridge across the Delaware River, should have been rewritten: “Trenton Makes FDU-Florham Takes.”

The Dayons were three-sport standouts at Trenton Central High and spent most of their time growing up in New Jersey’s capital city by playing in several sport leagues and in the gym with their older brother, who was an assistant coach for Trenton Central.

They were always at games and in the summer, their brother, who the Dayons consider most influential in beginning their careers, would teach them the fundamentals of the game like shooting, dribbling and more.

The gym was a safe haven as they helped the Dayons avoid falling prey to trappings of Trenton, an inner-city in which hoop dreams deflate and the young often die too soon.

“We moved to Trenton when we were 5,” Kyra said. “My mother taught us a lot of what not to do and always stressed to us watch who you hang around. That helped us be different from everybody else. We’re very blessed. Trenton is a tough city, but we did a lot of activities like playing soccer, flag football and softball when we were younger.”

Meanwhile, the Devils appear to have all the ingredients to play deep into March. They are experienced, talented, balanced, athletic, quick, and aggressive on defense. There aren’t many holes in this year’s FDU-Florham squad.

In addition to the Dayons, sophomore Schalette Brown, a transfer from Montclair State, is a double-double machine. Brown has six double-doubles this season and averages 11.1 points per game along with 9.1 rebounds per outing. Junior Leigh-Ann Lively averages 8.2 points and has made 27 3-pointers. Senior guard Jaleesa Lewis, a strong floor general averaging 7.6 points per game, had a team-high 17 points in the win over Delaware Valley. Harris is rock under the basket and on defense.

Kyra might be the centerpiece of the Devils with her unique and extraordinary ability, but she is thrilled to be just one of the players on the team and blessed to be able to share her college experience with Kara.

The Devils have been tested in two of their last three games. Against an improving Eastern squad last Thursday, the Devils were pushed for the first time this year. They led Eastern by two points with 10 minutes remaining. A few 3-point baskets and steals later, FDU-Florham was ahead by 16 points on its way to a not-as-comfortable-as-it-looked, 76-58 win.

Against Delaware Valley, the Devils trailed at halftime, 31-28, for the first time this season. The Aggies were also up two with just over 10 minutes to go in the contest, the latest a team has held a led over the Devils. However, FDU-Florham went on a blistering run at the end, scoring 22 of the game's final 24 points to pull away to the win.

The Devils were thankful for the recent challenges.

“It was definitely intense, but we need these types of games to go into the tournament,” Kyra said. “A game like this will help us in postseason because we know it won’t be easy and we have to know what to do in close games so they we don’t get all hectic and all out of control.”

The Dayons are cherishing every moment together in the navy blue-and-burgundy. Both ladies are majoring in computer science. Kyra wants to use her degree to be a support specialist and assist people with software issues.

Kara’s aspiration is to be a computer technician. When it was suggested that they open their own computer business, their faces lit up like a Christmas tree.

They may be gifted when it comes to the rudiments of the game, but it’s their character, selflessness, pleasant attitude and ability to bring smiles to others that make them special.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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