Wednesday, November 28, 2007

You Don't See That Every Day

I am nothing if not a diehard UD basketball fan. I am probably many other things, including unjustly and overly critical -- whether it be of a coach whose X's and O's need serious work or of a senior point guard who is nothing short of abysmal -- but I am, at heart, a Flyers fan.

With that in mind, I traveled to the city of Middletown, Ohio, (really nice this time of year, by the way) tonight to watch the Flyers take on the Miami Redhawks. Why Middletown, Ohio? The rationale, I guess, was that I figured that was the furthest point south which would receive local Dayton TV stations. Oh, Mike Hartsock, how I've missed ye. On further review, it probably would have been just as wise to drive all the way to Oxford and catch the game in person. Then again, why would I spend (waste) hard earned money to attend a game in that godforsaken excuse for a basketball arena?

Anyway, the Flyers started out in typical "We're the Flyers and we blow ass in any and every road game" fashion. Miami led 20-2 to start the game and 30-9 at one point. UD fought back, though, and cut the deficit to 33-18 at the half with some dorky looking white kid accounting for 25 of the Hawks 33. For those of you who are new to the game, letting one player outscore your entire team for a half ... usually not a good sign.

The start of the second half brought much of the same, and -- with about ten minutes left down by 15 or so points -- my buddy and I were seriously considering closing up shop, calling it a night and parting ways. But being the faithful Flyers fans that we are, we stayed for the duration.

And it's a damn good thing we did because something pretty ridiculous happened. Rather than roll over and play dead like your typical overmatched and overwhelmed Dayton team on the road, this team fought back. Oh, it wasn't pretty. Not even close. But the Flyers clawed and scraped and did other things you do when you're losing and you need to come back and win ugly.

Miami went on a ridiculous field goal drought and, suddenly, the Flyers were within single digits. Then the Redhawks employed the ingenious Stop Playing Defense and Trade your Easy Baskets for our Free Throws strategy. This strategy, though severely flawed, can work if the team employing it makes all of said free throws. But the Hawks -- they of the fundamentally sound, sweet shooting, slow white guy -- missed key free throws at the most crucial of moments. And Brian Roberts continued to torch the Miami D to the tune of 12 points in the final 1:04.

The play of the game came when Jimmy Binnie hit a ridiculous fade-away, off-balance three with 23 seconds left. This also marked the first point since the opening tip which I thought, "Holy shit, we actually have a chance to win this thing." Roberts hit a deuce with about :16 on the clock to keep us within a point and then Michael Bramos -- the one who torched us for 25 first half points -- missed one of two free throws. Down 62-60, the Flyers never let anyone but Roberts touch the ball. Nor should they have as B-Rob drained a triple with 4.2 seconds left. This was, no joke, one of those times when every single mo-fo in the gym knows who's getting the ball and who's taking that last shot. Yet the Redhawks inexplicably allowed B-Rob to get off a semi-clean look, and let me tell you ... it was an absolute no-doubter. From the time the ball left his hand, it had nowhere to go but the bottom of the net.

Miami missed its desperation heave and the Flyers escaped with (stole, snatched, lucked out???) a road W against a not-half-bad Miami team.

I seem to have buried the lede a little bit; nonetheless, Brian Roberts is a god among men. And UD's victory tonight will spare the rest of you poor saps from my inevitable "Good Christ, when are we going to fire Brian Gregory?" rant for at least two weeks time.

Until then, enjoy the 4-1 start.

Go Flyers.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

So...

I feel I've done myself a disservice. I've let work get in the way of watching the Flyers and sadly, have missed all four games. I've missed Chris Wright making a splash, Brian Roberts being awesome and a team putting together a pretty decent start. If anybody wants to tell me what else I missed, please do so.

In the meantime, I'll get my priorities in order.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Seriously Kids, Let's Get the Ball Rolling

So the Flyers squeak out a win in the first game of the season, with Brian Roberts exploding for 30+ points and Chris Wright going for a double-double, and nobody has posted about it yet? That's terrible. What is wrong with you people (myself included)?

Well, I'll get the ball rolling. While it probably wasn't a great debut for the Flyers this season (a four point win over East Tennessee State), I'm of the mindset that at this point in the year, a win is a win. After watching my other team (the beloved UK Wildcats) go down to a small-time school (Congrats to Gardner Webb), I'm just happy when any team can win a game it's supposed to win. (If you feel like making fun of my Wildcats, I don't really want to hear it. It's going to be a long year for them).

Anyhow, so the Flyers are 1-0. That's a positive. But then tonight, I read an article on CBS Sportsline about the third postseason tournament that is being added (which is a dumb idea). Gary Parrish agrees with me that it's a dumb idea, but here is how he summed it up:

"When the press release arrived via e-mail it came with an attached link of a mock bracket. Presumably, it was supposed to show me what I had missed, that had there been a third postseason tournament last March I would've been lucky enough to see Dayton and Akron face off. But honestly, it just made me laugh. "

So I'm not a real big fan of the knock on UD, but at the same time, I have to agree with him. Who in the hell cares about a game between UD and Akron in March, especially this past year? Certain teams deserve to be in the postseason, and certain teams don't.

Here's hoping that when we reach March, we don't even have to worry about UD playing in the College Basketball Invitational. Let's pray that they have the NCAA tournament wrapped up instead.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Adventure Begins...

It's finally here. I've been waiting for months for Flyer Basketball to get started. To celebrate I've decided to do a running diary for the Flyers' final exhibition game. It'll be a good time for me and it will help me avoid doing any work. I apologize in advance for both the content and the style. I'm going to write it and post it. No revision, no correction. Enjoy.

6:58 First, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Good Lord for CSTV’s online streaming video broadcasts of Flyer home games. Thanks to them, I get to see Dayton play the school with what has to be the most confusing name in all of college athletics: the California (Pennsylvania) Vulcans. I don’t even know where to start with all that.

7:04 Starting lineup time. Jimmie Binnie: his hair is longer than it’s ever been. I didn’t see the game against Findlay, but it appears that Binnie was a defensive liability. Marcus Johnson: What can you say? Good luck to him. Kurt Huelsman: this guy has the whitest name in basketball. Brian Roberts: it’s not a stretch to say that our season depends on what this guy does. Chris Wright: 20 points in his debut. Let’s hope he keeps it up.

7:07 Dayton wins the tip and Binnie puts in a three. I apologize for making fun of you, Jimmie.

7:08 The Vulcans come right back with a three-pointer of their own. Findlay went 16-32 from three-point land on Thursday. I don’t want to see any of that nonsense tonight.

7:11 It’s 7-5 California at the first timeout. I’m glad that some things never change. I can still hear Larry and Bucky’s voices over the commercials during timeouts. Between that and the camera work, there’s no way I’ll forget what an amateur effort this is. I shouldn’t complain. I get to watch a Dayton exhibition in Louisville, Ky.

7:16 Brian Roberts. Open three. All day.

7:19 Apparently Tennessee beat CalPenn by 60 on Friday. That doesn’t have any bearing on this game and I certainly don’t think we can win by a margin anywhere near that. I’m just commenting on what the best team in the SEC did.

7:22 Chris Wright has earned Dayton its third offensive foul of the game. Wright is a freakish athlete; he’ll be even better once he figures out that, in college, people will be trying to stop him from scoring.

7:25 Dayton is having some trouble dealing with the Vulcan zone defense. How could anyone compete? That defense is a death grip. Nerdy Vulcan joke No. 1.

7:29 Bucky: “He’s a transfer from Maryland-Eastern Shore. You know where that is?” Larry: “Eastern shore of Maryland I’d guess.” Ask a dumb question, get a dumb answer.

7:32 I probably should be reading. I’m supposed to be in law school. I’d rather watch Devon Searcy swat a Vulcan shot any day.

7:43 Dayton 31 - Cal. (Pa.) 24 Halftime. Charles Little dunked following a Jimmie Binnie steal to end the half. Nice.

7:44 The Bud Light “Real Men of Genius” is picking on former football players now doing commentary by suggesting that “The best way to win is to score more points” is not a perfectly reasonable thing to say. How can you come at John Madden in a commercial?

7:48 We’ve played an entire half of basketball and I have nothing to comment on because I’m too stunned by the fact that Bucky has yet to refer to London Warren as the Jacksonville Jet.

7:49 Carl Nichols from WHIO TV has just asked if beating California-Pennsylvania counts as two wins. And, if so, can we schedule more games against teams like this? Like I said earlier: ask a dumb question, get a dumb answer. Yes, it does count as two. We simply need to schedule a game against CaliforniaPennsylvania’s Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference rival, Indiana, Pennsylvania. That game has to be challenge to call… “Hello Vulcan fans, and welcome to the annual California-Pennsylvania-Indiana-Pennsylvania rivalry contest!”

7:54 The first half was complex. The Flyers showed real promise at times. They also showed a penchant for tossing up threes at inopportune moments and running over defensive players that were set in position.

7:59 Start of second half. In looking at Cal-U-Penn’s Web site during the half, I discovered that the school’s fastest-growing club sport is the 26-member equestrian team.
8:02 THERE IT IS!! Atta boy, Larry. A London Warren rebound resulted in the first Jacksonville Jet reference of the night. You know, for a second there, I thought it would never come.

8:05 I just noticed the new floor for the first time. It’s very simple… and red. At the same moment, Larry suggested that I warm up the bus and head to Tank’s Bar and Grill. Believe me, I would if I could.

8:13 One of the Vulcan players just fouled Devin Searcy, who is from Romulus, Mich. Everyone knows Vulcans and Romulans don’t get along. Nerdy Vulcan joke No. 2.

8:14 The Vulcans are double-teaming Roberts every chance they get. The Flyers’ best hope at some good victories this year is to figure out how to get Roberts out of those trap situations. With him playing the point, that won’t be easy.

8:17 That’s another offensive foul. I don’t know how many that is, but I’ve had more than enough of them. If this weren’t an exhibition, I’d be furious.

8:20 Thiago Cordiero puts in back-to-back buckets, getting his first Division I block in between. Cordiero led the nation in blocks at the junior college level last year. It was the first good thing I’d seen on defense in well over five minutes. Who would’ve thought a 6-9 Brazilian defensive specialist would be exactly what the Flyers needed tonight?

8:23 Gregory’s trying something different: Huelsman, Cordiero and Wright playing together in the frontcourt. We’ve been playing fairly small all night. They generate a defensive stop their first moments on the floor. London then turns the ball over before we get a chance to see what they do.

8:26 Okay. My computer just screamed at me. That’s not a joke or the start of a story. I don’t know what program did it or why, but I just heard a blood-curtling scream come through the speakers as if Norman Bates was running around in there wearing his mom-suit.

8:30 Flyers up 14 with 6 minutes to go. Excellent. The game will be over in time for Heroes. It’s one of the better shows in the creative desert that is network television. Besides, there is a 100 percent chance that it will be better than my other option: watching two AFC North teams try not to put America to sleep on Monday Night Football.

8:36 Either my computer is making weird noises again or Larry just yawned on the air. Can’t say I blame him. Every potentially awesome play is destroyed by an offensive foul and the shooting isn’t very good. As I typed that, Bucky affirmed my assessment by calling the game “boring.”

8:43 It’s tough to watch at this point. I just want to go to sleep. We’re going to need to play better on Saturday if we’re going to start the season with a win. Plus, Bucky just gave Anheuser-Busch some free advertising: “You ought to head on down to Tank’s and have a nice, cold Bud Light. That’s what I’m gonna do.”

8:47 Game over. Dayton wins 62-49. I’d love to say more about this game and talk about what I saw that makes me think Saturday might not go all that well, but we’ll have to save that for a day when I didn’t wish I was a million other places. Good night, Flyer Fanatics.