The Tenth of January, 1981.
That was the last time Dayton beat Xavier in Cincinnati. The Flyers won 74-72. Mike Kanieski was the MVP. He would win it again a month later when the Flyers capped a sweep of the Musketeers with a 73-64 victory at UD Arena.
Those were the days. Probably. I wouldn't know. I was but a twinkle in my father's eye. In my lifetime, Dayton has not beaten Xavier in Cincinnati. I believe that for the first 18 years of my life, I cared little about this. I was not a Dayton fan by birth and probably would have been preoccupied anyway with hot wheels and baseball cards and legos. But I left those things behind me once I
graduated high school got out of kindergarten, and soon enough, I was set for my college years at the University of Dayton.
Suddenly, I cared, but with the way things continued to go in Cincinnati, it would have been easy to regret the decision to care. The four trips to Xavier in my four years at Dayton were marked by sadness and a burning hatred for David West. It hasn't gotten any better since I've graduated.
So here we are again, a day away from another trip to Cincinnati. Perhaps it is best not to dwell on the past. The players probably won't. But for some deep philosophical reason other than the fact that I wanted to post something today but had no ideas, we must remember. We must remember and we must learn.
So, the learning:
The Best Player in the Game May Strap His Team to His Back
Xavier 85, Dayton 77
Feb. 8, 2003
The Proof: David West was simply ridiculous. He finished the game with 47 points and 18 rebounds, spoiling a big effort from a Dayton team that was 16-3 coming into the game. The Flyers opened the game by jumping to a 26-11 first-half lead. It looked for sure like it would finally be the year. But West put the Musketeers on his back. Nobody could guard him, and it didn't much matter if they tried. “It was a whale of an effort by West,” said Dayton head coach Oliver Purnell.
The Lesson: The Dayton-Xavier game has always been ripe for a player in relative obscurity to step up, but just as often, the great players will deliver, especially when they're head and shoulders above the rest. West was, and this year, Brian Roberts assumes that role. If he wants to score 47 points, I would be fine with that.
Things Can Get Out of Hand Quickly
Xavier 67, Dayton 60
Feb. 21, 2004
The Proof: Dayton managed to keep this game close down the stretch, but if they hadn't let things get so out of control, they might have done more than keep it close. In one second-half stretch, Xavier scored on 10 of 11 trips, pushing its lead to 17. Keith Waleskowski sparked a late comeback but it wasn't enough.
The Lesson: The stretch that doomed the Flyers was typical of that particular group's trips to Xavier. As confident as they were, as much as they believed they could do it, they couldn't avoid one mini-collapse per game. And with the Cintas Center crowd going wild, those mini-collapses always seemed to turn into something bigger.
An Awkward Big Man Who Sometimes Sucks May Suddenly Become Awesome
Xavier 74, Dayton 65
March 5, 2005
The Proof: Will Caudle. Do you remember him? No offense to him, but he was not a great player. One day in March 2005, though, he practically became David West Lite, dominating the paint against a young Dayton team. Also, at one point, Caudle scored inside and did the most ridiculous celebration dance I had ever seen, full of shaking arms and a shaking head. Will Caudle. He will coddle you. It's a play on words.
The Lesson: I could totally see this happening this year. Paging Thiago Cordeiro.
Brian Roberts Cannot Do It All By Himself
Xavier 60, Dayton 55
January 28, 2006
The Proof: Brian Roberts led all scorers with 20 points and also took 14 more shots than anybody on the team. If not for three three-pointers in the final minute from Jimmy Binnie, Roberts would have been the only Flyer in double figures. Either way, it wasn't a good recipe. UD was never really in this game.
The Lesson: Yes, I hinted at a BRob explosion above and I mentioned a few posts back that he can carry this team, but the fact of the matter is, if nobody else steps up, the Flyers will be facing a serious uphill battle. I think Roberts will still set the tone and pave the way with his confidence, but somebody has to help.
What The Hell Happened?
Xavier 83, Dayton 67
January 27, 2007
The Proof: Sometimes, it just doesn't work. The Flyers led this game by a point at halftime but it didn't really feel like their game. Xavier's 12-0 run to start the second half made the score reflect that. Dayton barely mounted a charge from there.
The Lesson: Plenty of games take on that "What The Hell Happened?" quality, but for whatever reason, it seems like Xavier games really bring it out. Things start going wrong before you can pinpoint why, and pretty soon, it's over.
So that's it. The memories should be fresher now. The lessons are most likely worthless. Something different is bound to happen.
But at least you've been reminded of Will Caudle. If the Flyers win, I ask all of you to do his dance.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
The Tenth of January, 1981.