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Excellence in pursuing excellence
William F. Reed
December 25, 1978
Dayton's Jim Paxson seeks perfection, but would settle for some recognition
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December 25, 1978

Excellence In Pursuing Excellence

Dayton's Jim Paxson seeks perfection, but would settle for some recognition

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Paxson was a godsend to Donoher. Over the past decade or so, coaching at Dayton has become harder and harder. The Flyers get virtually no television exposure outside their home city, and their budget can't begin to compare with those of the Kentuckys and UCLAs. Donoher generally must make do with players whom the major powers either have overlooked or deemed not good enough. "It was critical that Jim come to Dayton," Donoher says. "He's carried our program for four years."

The senior Paxson has occasionally been critical of Donoher for failing to recruit the big man needed to make Dayton a national power. "If we had a good center," says the father, "it would make Jim a better player." However, few good big men have been interested in Dayton; some of those who did come did not stay. So Paxson has excelled in obscurity. During his career, Dayton has neither played in the NCAAs nor appeared on national television. The Flyers may well do both this year, which is important to Paxson's future because tournaments and television mean a lot when it comes to recognition—and a pro contract.

Jim's brother John is one of the country's better high school guards. In attempting to recruit him, coaches like Notre Dame's Digger Phelps are stressing Dayton's inability to provide Jim with national recognition. Last winter, as a junior, John led Alter to the Ohio AAA championship. He is five inches shorter than Jim, but is at least as sound in fundamentals. He has all but eliminated Dayton, and is leaning toward Notre Dame, Duke or North Carolina.

"In our area, Notre Dame and Marquette are the main independents, so they get all the national TV," says Jim. "That's what Notre Dame is using on John. Their subs are better known than I am. It will be John's decision, though. I think he's always wanted to go away. I think it's much tougher to follow a brother than a father."

Paxson says his studies and social life are important to him, but basketball is his passion. When he's not playing it, he thinks and talks about it. Last summer he ran and lifted weights to build up his strength and stamina. He also worked as a counselor at basketball camps in the East, testing his ability and honing his skills against top players from around the country.

Even though his personal statistics are excellent and Dayton is 5 and 2 after beating Cal Poly-Pomona, Miami of Ohio and Baldwin-Wallace last week, this season has been another frustrating one for Paxson. Dayton's new—and taller than usual—players have been slow to adapt to his sharp passes and to Donoher's motion offense. Paxson also has been nagged by a cold and a pulled Achilles. But he is still hustling after the perfect game with as much diligence as ever. He won't get it, of course, but he'd be willing to settle for a trip to the NCAAs and a chance to play on national TV.

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