Friday, February 29, 2008

So There's a Game Saturday

I wish the Dayton Flyers had played a game Friday, because I'm pretty sure Leap Day would have turned this whole thing around. As noted by daytonflyers.com, UD walk-ons Dan Fox and Logan Nourse were both born on Leap Day 1988. The cosmic implications of this are jarring. I guarantee if the Flyers had played, the two of them would have somehow convinced BG to give them minutes then would have dropped 29 points each.

But alas. The Flyers play on Saturday.

With everybody jumping on the BG bandwagon, it seems like the Flyers barely have a season going on. What? Secaur's post was supposed to be sarcastic? I had no idea.

Anyway. The Flyers travel to New York Saturday to take in Fordham in a game that actually means quite a lot. Just not in the good way. At this point, I'd take two middle-of-the-pack teams playing a game that doesn't matter much. Instead, we have two teams fighting for their conference tourney lives, with a lot hinging on this game. I still can't believe that Dayton is one of those teams, but here we are.

It's been a long time since the Flyers visited Fordham, all the way back to the A-10 opener in 2005-06. They lost by 10 that time.

To avoid a similar result this time, the Flyers will have to contend with a Fordham team that, like everybody else in the conference, has its good days and its bad days. The last few weeks, it looked like the Rams were making headway. In a four-game stretch, they won three and lost the fourth in overtime. But Wednesday night, they lost at home to La Salle. I guess there's no shame in that, what with La Salle being in a tie for second place (seriously?), but it was still the kind of loss that stings.

The Rams are led (still) by Bryant Dunston, who averages 15.8 points per game. I think he's been leading this team for what, eight years? At 6-8, 252 and with the ability to do more than post up, Dunston is a tough match-up for the Flyers. Fordham also is getting a big year from senior guard Marcus Stout, who is just behind Dunston with 15.5 points per game.

At this point, though, the Flyers probably need to be worrying more about themselves. So much has snowballed so quickly, that it's hard to even grasp everything that's wrong. UD simply has to play better, in pretty much every facet of the game. If they don't . . . yikes.

That's all I've got. Go Flyers.

The Race for the 12 Seed

First, the A-10 current standings (no effort was made to determine tiebreakers this week, since that will all change with each team still having 2-3 games left).

1. Xavier 12-1
T2. St. Joe's 8-5
T2. Richmond 8-5
T2. Temple 8-5
T2. LaSalle 8-5
6. UMass 7-6
7. St. Louis 7-7
T8. Duquesne 6-7
T8. Charlotte 6-7
10. Rhode Island 6-8
T11. Dayton 5-8
T11. Fordham 5-8
T11. George Washington 5-8
14. St. Bonaventure 1-12

Here's what I know for sure about the A-10 tournament in Atlantic City:
-Xavier will be the #1 seed
-St. Bonaventure will not be participating

Other than that, the seeds from 2 through 12 are pretty much wide open with 2-3 games to play. So without further ado, a look ahead at the A-10 matchups this weekend.

Rhode Island @ LaSalle, Saturday, 2 PM
-Rhode Island is suprisingly fighting for it's A-10 tournament life, sitting just a half game ahead of the 3-way tie for 10th
-LaSalle is surprisingly fighting for a top 4 seed and a first round bye
-Neither team has hopes of the NCAA tournament without winning the A-10 in my opinion (Sorry Rhody)

St. Bonaventure @ St. Louis, Saturday, 2 PM
-SBU is done
-SLU has an outside shot of a top 4 seed, and needs to take care of business at home

Dayton @ Fordham, Saturday, 7 PM
-Whoever thought this would be a big game for the 12th seed in the A-1o about 2 months ago please raise your hand
-Winner will be in prime position, especially when you consider that the first tiebreaker is head-to-head competition
-For what it's worth, UD will be @ SBU and vs. St. Joe's after this game, while Fordham will tangle @ Richmond and vs. SBU. Assuming both teams beat SBU, this battle could get real interesting

UMass @ Richmond, Saturday, 7 PM
-Both teams are above .500 in conference play, so this leans more towards a seeding game. Richmond is in slightly better shape, and a win here would be huge towards getting that first round bye
-UMass has at-large hopes even without winning the conference, and they need this win to boost the RPI a bit

George Washington @ Xavier, Saturday, 7 PM
-GW had a huge mid-week win against Rhode Island to put itself in a 3-way tie with Fordham and Dayton
-Xavier has the #1 seed wrapped up, and with Drew Lavender nursing an injury, his playing time might get cut
-Certainly X doesn't want to lose this game to screw up a shot at an NCAA 2-seed, but at the same time, they really have nothing to play for in terms of the regular season/A-10 tourney
-GW holds the head-to-head over Dayton, but loses it to Fordham, so they will be watching the scoreboard and rooting for the Rams to beat UD

Duquesne @ Charlotte, Sunday, 2 PM
-Both are 6-7, neither wants to be 6-8. Big game for seeding, and for giving one team a bit of breathing room in the final two games

Temple @ St. Joe's, Sunday, 7 PM
-Both are 8-5, both want a first round bye
-St. Joe's has at-large hopes, Temple does not
-A loss at home at this point of the season could do some serious damage to the Hawks' NCAA hopes

Alright, we'll check back in after the weekend and evaluate things again. Have a good weekend everyone. Go Flyers.

Chris Wright Update

The Dayton Daily News is reporting that Chris Wright may not return this season.

(Actually, they're reporting that he won't be back until the A-10 tournament and since the Flyers might not make the A-10 tournament, that Chris Wright might not return this season. I understand the conclusion, but in my book, if you say that Chris Wright might not play again this season, that means he's out regardless of how far the Flyers go.)

But anyway: Chris Wright may not return this season. Fantastic.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

On the BG Bandwagon

There has probably been no bigger Brian Gregory detractor on this blog -- if not on the entire planet -- than me. Uncreative Commuter is close but, with all due respect, I have to give myself the nod on this one. I've been extremely critical of BG for the last two seasons, if not longer.

Here's the thing, though: Somewhere along the way, my attitude changed. I did a complete 180 and now -- believe it or not -- I'm back on the BG Bandwagon. Not only do I believe that Gregory should not be on the hot seat, I think Dayton's head coach deserves a contract extension. BG is an up-and-comer in the coaching ranks, folks, and UD would do itself a big favor by locking him up for the foreseeable future. I present to you the following seven reasons that I have gone from BG basher to BG backer.

1) Going to the postseason is not that important. Look, I know a lot of schools use making it to and winning games in the postseason as a sort of measuring stick for the program. Not at Dayton. That shit is flat overrated. No postseason for three straight seasons? Fuck it. We're on the NIT bubble in '08, bitches, so watch out.

2) If the season ended in December, UD would be awesome. BG got the Flyers off to a 10-1 start a year ago and an even more impressive 14-1 start this season. That's 24-2 in the early part of the season. Forget the fact that his teams proceeded to go a combined 12-19 the rest of the way. Forget the fact that Brian Gregory-coached teams regress as the season goes along. Forget that he's in the midst of orchestrating the biggest single-season collapse in the history of the program. Minute details. Hell, if the NCAA Tournament was played on New Year's Day, UD probably would've been in the Final Four.

3) Brian Roberts isn't that good. Sure, this seems crazy. You might say, "Hey, B-Rob is one of the top 15 players in the history of Dayton basketball!" Others might have him rated in the top ten all-time. Last I checked, Roberts had an outside shot of finishing his career as one of the top five scorers in Dayton basketball history. To me, that is all rubbish. Rubbish, I say! B-Rob's not that good. And just because a coach has one of the best players ever to attend that school and can only go to one NIT with him (we hope) doesn't mean Brian Gregory isn't doing a good job. Think of how improved the team will be without Roberts next season.

4) Winning on the road is difficult. I generally find that things that are hard to do are simply not worth doing. Shit that takes so much effort and skill at one's craft (like winning road games for BG, or finding a woman who can stand your presence for more than a two-week time period for me) just doesn't seem that important. If I'm cool with not being able to pick up chicks, there's no reason BG and Dayton should worry about not being able to win road games. For the record, the team has won four road games in conference in the last three seasons. Yes, that's a whopping four in three fucking seasons in A10 play. Look, I'm not saying my retarded cousin and a monkey could coach the Flyers to wins over the dregs of the A10 at home, but with the home crowd and atmosphere provided by UD Arena .... well, wait. I guess that is what I'm trying to say. My retarded cousin and a monkey could coach the Flyers to victory against the Richmonds, GWs, Duquesnes and St. Bonaventures of the world in UD Arena. Good coaches get their team to win key conference road games.

5) Making in-game adjustments: also overrated. For me, if you coach the team up in practice, break down film and have a solid game plan coming in, you're fine. Coaching during the game itself is for pussies. If you fall behind, don't adjust your game plan. Don't come up with new tactics or strategies to alter what is going on. No no, simply put in different players to do the same things that haven't been working. Is the other team double-teaming Brian Roberts on the high ball screen? Don't stop running that play; that would be asinine. What you gotta do is put in a different player to set that exact same ball screen. London Warren and Charles Little couldn't hit water from a fucking boat and teams are just daring them to take jump shots? Don't design something to get the ball in closer to the hoop. Duh. Put in Jimmy Binnie who's afraid to shoot and Andres Sandoval who thinks he's fucking Kobe to brick open treys.

Moreover, if you happen to be ahead at half time, you need not even talk to your team at the break. If the thought crosses your mind that the other team might try something different in the second half, and you might prepare your team for changes/adjustments, stifle that thought. Fight the urge to do any actual coaching. Just pretend the other team is not going to change anything and will proceed to let you win the game.

Less enlightened fans (the aforementioned BG bashers of which I was once a part) might talk about Brian Gregory's inability to implement an effective press break. To that I say, he has only had five years. He's still honing the perfect system to break the full-court pressure. Others point to his insistence on playing man-to-man defense on inbounds plays underneath Dayton's basket. They say this has brought on countless easy lay-ups by the opposition and even led to the wide open three-pointer which sent the La Salle game into overtime. To that I say, what's a zone defense?

5b) Not only are in-game adjustments for pussies, so are in-season adjustments. BG detractors have been telling me that UMass "figured out" the Flyers. They say, "Oh, UMass double- and even triple-teamed Brian Roberts. They played zone and changed defenses extremely often. The Flyers were unable to figure out how to attack, and UMass forced UD's role players to step up and beat them." I'm actually willing to grant this bit of criticism. Whether you're a player, a coach or that dude who does that crazy dance at halftime, sometimes you have an off night. Gregory had an off night against UMass; I just don't know what you want him to do about it. Learn from it for future games? Ha! Now you're just talkin' crazy.

So BG has had since January 16th to come up with a counter to the crazy, "take Roberts out of the game" defenses. I say Gregory has better things to do. Plus, it's easier just to hope teams don't employ that strategy ... like in the Temple and La Salle games. (Apparently, those teams don't have access to previous game films.)

6) You say regress, I say peak too early. I touched on this up in #2, but a lot of Gregory detractors are saying his teams regress as the season goes along. They point to the fact that BG has a pretty high winning percentage overall, but he actually has a losing record in February and March. These geeks and losers (because, let's face it, that's what people who break down win/loss records are) think winning in the last two months of the season is important. They say it's an integral part of making the postseason and actually winning some games once you get there. When this happens, I just put my fingers in my ears and go "La la la la la" at a really high volume. That always shuts 'em up. So what if a Gregory-coached team peaks in December, pisses down its leg and proceeds to go on a slide of epic proportions?

7) Recruiting is all that matters in college basketball. Chris Wright is an amazing player and is probably the most highly touted recruit in UD's history. Josh Benson is, by all acounts, an excellent high school big man. He is a Dayton-area recruit as well and looks to make an impact right away when he becomes a Flyer next season. On this very day, Juwan Staten -- who is allegedly the best point guard in his class in the state of Ohio -- has made a verbal commitment to spend his college years at the great U of D.

What you do with these players is of no matter or consequence. Forget the fact that Jimmy Binnie has gotten better in no facet of his game over a four-year period at Dayton. Forget that Charles Little essentially the same player he was when he came into college and that any positives he brings on the offensive end can be neutralized simply by fouling him and sending him to the free throw stripe. Forget that none of the guards Brian Gregory brings in can, you know, actually make a jump shot (London Warren, Mickey Perry and even a guy I like, Marcus Johnson).

I, for one, am willing to sit through two more years of not playing in the postseason because this Staten kid is "the real deal." Too bad if he attends UD, he'll probably be as a good of a basketball player his senior year in high school as he'll ever be.

7) There's actually more, but I'm tired. I had to leave my computer after reason three to go throw up. I have more things on my list such as: the fact that Dayton is so far in Xavier's rear view mirror that it's embarrassing, that UD has the resources and facilities to be the dominant team in the A10 and one the top five non-BCS schools in all of college basketball but is currently treading water in 11th place in the conference, and that BG's lone postseason appearance was with Oliver Purnell's players ... but like I said, I'm tired. And I don't wanna be sick again. So I'm wrapping this up.

I embrace mediocrity along with my fellow BG apologists supporters. Let's keep him around as long as humanly possible. Winning isn't everything, don't you know?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

One voice of support...

I feel that I have to respond to this massive amount of negativity that has been posted in the last couple of days.
Am I pissed about the huge collapse our beloved Flyers have undergone? I absolutely am. This last 6 weeks has been a very depressing stretch of basketball that leaves me disappointed and frustrated seemingly every couple of days. But lets not forgot how the season started before injuries threw the whole season off track. It wasn't that long ago that Frank Iguodala Lives and I had a phone conversation following the Pitt victory that included the phrase "Please tell me I'm not dreaming!!" The first 12 games of the season couldn't have gone much better and everyone on this site was talking about a possible 3 or 4 seed. The collapse that followed sucked, but unlike what Uncreative Commuter claims injuries played a major factor for two reasons:
1. Chris Wright WOULD make the team rebound better and make free throws. He was averaging 6 boards a game and was an absolute freak physically that teams had to constantly be worried about when game planning for UD. He also was shooting 81% from the line...I think that's pretty good and I don't see any way that you can say that percentage wouldn't help this team. Also, I dare anyone to tell me that Wright wasn't going to do anything but improve over the course of the conference season and that would have made life much easier on Roberts and company.
2. Losing Wright and Little in such a short stretch led to Dayton losing a couple of close games that they otherwise would probably have pulled out. Losing close games can have a huge impact on a team's psyche and players can quickly lose the confidence they had gained from their clutch wins just the previous month. You can lose your confidence as a team much quicker than you can gain it back and this team has clearly struggled with their confidence in close games. I will definitely concede that the confidence factor is something that Gregory should be able to change but this is a pretty important factor that people seem to be forgetting.
Finally, I have to respond to the comment about the team not practicing free throws. We can probably all shoot 70% from the line when we are messing around with our buddies, but try putting say 50 bucks on whether you can make 7 of 10...it suddenly becomes much more difficult. Now try adding in 13,000 people watching and it becomes very difficult to make free throws. Don't get me wrong the free throw troubles are EXTREMELY frustrating, but I don't think you can say they aren't practicing. There is no aspect of the game that is more difficult mentally than shooting free throws. You are all by yourself at the line and suddenly you have to time to think and get into your own head. The mental aspect of free throws is just as, if not more, important than your form or release. As a coach I can tell you that there is no way (that I or any coach I know has found) to practice free throws that comes close to simulating a game situation. No matter how much you practice free throws a player has to develop the confidence and mental toughness to make free throws in game situations.
Ok so that post was a whole lot longer than I anticipated, but I felt there had to be one voice defending this Flyer team. Something tells me a deep run in the A-10 tourney and a NCAA berth would change just about everyone's tune...not that I'm predicting that...Just hoping!!
I might be the only one left supporting Gregory and it might ultimately prove to be a bad decision, but I'm not ready to call it quits on him, this team or the large amounts of talent he brings in every year (just wait till you see Josh Benson dominating the paint in three years). In the mean time I will support our Flyers and Coach Gregory.

Monday, February 25, 2008

What They Are Saying Part 2

Well I decided to check back in on our friends at the national websites to see if any of them still had the Flyers in the Big Dance.

The Good News -- One of them did.

The Bad News -- That one has not been updated since the 20th, thus it was not considering the losses to LaSalle and Xavier.

Okay, so we all agree that right now the Flyers aren't in the NCAA field. So let's check back in with the A-10 Standings as of Monday (and this is going to be a twice a week feature until we get some things sorted out):

1. Xavier 12-1
2. St. Joseph's 8-4
3. Richmond 7-5
4. Temple 7-5
5. La Salle 7-5
6. UMass 7-6
7. Charlotte 6-6
8. Rhode Island 6-7
9. Duquesne 6-7
10. St. Louis 6-7
11. Fordham 5-7
12. Dayton 5-8
13. George Washington 4-8
14. St. Bonaventure 1-11

As you can see, outside of the #1 seed, the A-10 Tournament is up for grabs. Eleven teams are within three games of each other, with only three or four games remaining in the regular season. Dayton doesn't play again until Saturday when they have a HUGE game at Fordham. In the meantime, here are some previews of the A-10 games during the week (I'll update again Friday to discuss the weekend games):

Wednesday:

Richmond @ St. Bonaventure -- A must win for the Bonnies to keep their slim postseason hopes alive. A loss would leave them 3 games behind GW with 3 to play, and GW holds the tiebreaker thus officially eliminating SBU. Richmond needs to take care of business to help stay in the top 4 to get a first round A-10 bye.

Charlotte @ Temple -- Big matchup in the middle of the pack. The only thing really on the line here is seeding for the A-10 tournament, as both teams look pretty strong right now. Temple, like Richmond is trying to stay in the top 4.

Rhode Island @ George Washington -- Rhode Island can't slip up here if it wants any chance of an at-large bid to the NCAA. GW is fighting for it's A-10 tourney life, and a win here would actually put them ahead of Dayton in the standings for the 12th and final spot (thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker).

LaSalle @ Fordham -- Believe it or not, LaSalle is fighting for a top 4 spot in the A-10 tourney, which would be huge for them, since they have no NCAA hopes without winning the conference. Fordham is in a battle with Dayton and a few others to make the A-10 tourney, and a win here would be a big boost.

Thursday:

St. Louis @ St. Joe's -- St. Joe's is on the bubble, with most people thinking they are in the NCAAs as of right now. A loss to St. Louis would cripple that chance, so this is a must-win for the Hawks. St. Louis is probably still good for the A-10 tourney even with a loss here, but a win would cement that positioning.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Beaten Down


I can't say I'm surprised by what happened. Maybe I was surprised it wasn't worse. Like Secaur, I'm beaten down. I'm tired. Tired of UD teams fading down the stretch. Tired of not even seeing Xavier in the distance anymore because we're so far behind.

I'm just fed up. I'm sick of hearing how things would have been different if Chris Wright had played most of the A-10 season. Guess what? No, it probably wouldn't. They'd still be fading. They would have a slightly better record but they'd still be stumbling towards the finish. Chris Wright isn't going to make them play smarter, rebound better or make free throws.

I was on the fence with Gregory with this being his "make or break" year. It's been clearly a break. He seems to be a good recruiter, but it's time to admit he's not a good motivator or coach. The Flyers have been listless on the road and the fact that they have no basketball IQ is the biggest indictment I can think of. Does anyone really think next year will be any better? Take away Roberts, and what do you have?

It's going to be a long time before UD gets better.

Ugh. I'm just depressed. I was going to say, "Hey, at least baseball season starts soon!" Then I remembered I'm a Reds fan. Shit.

UD is to Xavier as:
• the Washington Generals are to the Harlem Globetrotters
• Michigan football is to Ohio State football
• Hillary Clinton is to Barack Obama (topical humor – right here at PB&B!)
• Logic is to Brian Gregory apologists
• David West is to manhood

Fuck Xavier?

Wow guys, this has been the least inspired lead up to a UD-Xavier game that I can ever remember. I guess that's what happens, though, when a team kicks you in the sac and crushes your spirit with its bare hands (metaphorically speaking, of course).

In fact, I've been to 11 consecutive UD-XU regular season games. That streak will come to an end today.

I started at UD in the fall of 2002 and have attended both the home and away games for the Flyers vs. X each year since (two games each in '03, '04, '05, '06, and '07). I went to the first game this year, a 26-point blowout loss at the Cintas Center. I also attended the Atlantic 10 Tournament final at UD Arena which the Flyers lost. Having missed last season's A10 Tourney matchup in Atlantic City, that means I've been to 12 of the last 13 meetings overall. It should be noted that UD has won but three of these contests.

So like I said, that streak comes to an end this afternoon. I am crushed, I am deflated and I am other synonyms for those words. That's what happens when you get your hopes up too high, I suppose. Putting this much energy and emotion into a freaking basketball team is downright silly ... but I do it. And I'm sure I'll do it again next year, and the year after and so on.

But I can't do it this afternoon. I'm just not up for watching the team I hate probably more than any other in all of sports beat us again. On our home floor, to boot.

So Fuck Xavier. And Go Flyers! And all that jazz ... but I'm too beaten down and deflated to put a full-fledged effort into it. Sorry fellas.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Standings Update

GW upset Richmond, so the Colonials are now just a game back of the Flyers with 4 to play for each team. Remember, GW has the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Fordham beat Temple. They are now tied with Dayton for 11th place.

How sad is it that this is the most important thing that we are concerned about right now?

( Post updated Saturday, 6:24 PM to reflect Fordham/Temple final)

Friday, February 22, 2008

I Admit It..I'm a Bracketbusters Fan

This weekend, is one of my favorite February weekends in sports. I know, sports and February are traditionally a down time. Super Bowl is over, March Madness hasn't quite kicked in and Spring Training has not become quite relevant. But even still..I can get excited for the last weekend in February, for two reasons:

1) One can hone their bracket skills during the World Match Play Championship. Yes I admit I've joined a Match Play Bracket Pool..pretty much anything that has a bracket I would join..including US Open Tennis, Pool Championships (hint: take either Jeanette Lee or Allison Fisher) and 3rd and 4th Grade Wrestling tournaments. Aside from my apparent bracket gambling problem..the other thing that excites me is..

BRACKETBUSTERS!!

I realize this is a contrived scheme by ESPN, but I admit I like the concept and watch as much as I can..including tonight's Davidson-Winthrop matchup.

A little background info on Bracketbusters. The idea behind it is to give teams in mid-major conferences one last chance to boost the RPI to potentially help at-large NCAA cases. Basically each team is at the whim of the "Bracketbusters Committee" in which they match better teams against better teams (ex. Drake v. Butler ) and worse teams vs. worse teams (Sisters of the Poor v. Flint Tropics). The other caveat that this event brings is that next season, whichever team was on the road, will now have a home game against that very opponent from the previous Bracketbuster during their normal non-conference schedule.

Now what does this have to do with the Atlantic-10?? Well during the first installation of this, the A-10 was approached to be included and the A-10 politely declined, stating that they were not a mid-major. Well that's sort of correct..financially, the Atlantic-10 spends the most from their athletic budgets on basketball, out of the "basketball-only" conferences. But in the past few years, you would be hard pressed to consider the A-10 more than a mid-major. In the past three seasons, the A-10 has routinely been a 2 bid conference..and that's only because the favorite and only team that would deserve at large considerations, was knocked out of the conference tournament.. So you see it's not a 2 bid conference based on merit, but on the manipulation of the system.

My real question is..why wouldn't the A-10 decide to hook up this event? I only see benefits for the league:

1) Boost the RPI - yes I know this year the league on it's own is doing fine RPI wise, but this out of the ordinary than typical Atlantic-10 years. Wouldn't it be nice to get a borderline team one more game to push them off the bubble and into the tournament? Of course they first need to WIN the game..but still

2) TV Exposure - How many Atlantic-10 games are really on ESPN? Aside from the Thursday night game and the seemingly every other Saturday game, there's not too much national exposure..and no CSTV does not count (or CBS College Sports, whatever the new identity crisis name of the channel is). This gives another chance for the Atlantic-10 to promote themselves, which in turn would help with name recognition and in turn could help with recruiting. I know..your argument back will be..but recruits will automatically pile Dayton into mid-major category and therefore the better players would likely turn away from that. I completely disagree thanks to the scholarship restrictions the NCAA has in place that affects every college. More kids want to play right away than wait 2 years sitting on the bench before they start.

3) Scheduling - This is like preaching to the choir. We always complain about Dayton's schedule about how none of the so-called "BCS conferences" want to schedule Dayton because it's a lose-lose for them. Case in point, I think we can say we won't see Louisville or Pitt on the schedule within the next 20 years. By participating in Bracketbusters, the Atlantic-10 is already getting themselves a home and home. It also rewards the better teams in the conference because they likely will be playing a quality opponent for 2 years.

So I plead to the Atlantic-10..get off your high horse and join the Bracketbusters (insert theme music here)

They Are Who We Thought They Were!

..and we let them off the hook.

As you can see for yourself in Secaur's live blog (or if you tortured yourself and listened/watched the game) you can see why we are all physically ill after this loss to LaSalle. So much so, I even took a sick day today..ok that part is a coincidence, since there's a decent amount of snow on the ground here on the East Coast.

Unfortunately, Dennis Green's words ring too true of last night's game (sadly no Coors Light comes with the statement). Twice, Dayton had this game seemingly locked up..only to find new levels of losing.

I'm not sure whether to be mad, feel frustrated, or feel sorry for this team. Clearly there were 2 different Dayton Flyer basketball teams this year. Wright and Wright-less.

The Chris Wright portion of the season showed us a team that many of us here on the blog have never seen. Straight out of Flint, Michigan..the Flyers looked like a clone of those good Michigan State teams..you know what I'm talking about, those teams that featured Mateen Cleaves.

Dayton had a guard who could score, an athletic wingman and a powerful 6th man off the bench. Now..this team is but a shadow of its former self...like the puppy who lost his way.

We as fans are not the only ones disappointed from last night..just read this quote from Brian Gregory:

"It's a bitter pill to swallow, but in all honesty, we didn't deserve to win this game. We've deserved to win a lot of games, but this wasn't one of them. What's disappointing is how we have had opportunities to cement wins in close games and we have not taken advantage of those opportunities."

The Flyers have played WAY too many close games this season. Games that shouldn't have been close. Sure some of them went UD's way...Akron, Miami of Ohio to name a few. But like in anything, the law of averages seems to win out. Games against GW, Duquesne and of course last night's debacle.

Can this team still get an NCAA tournament bid..Yes. But so can every team who plays in a conference tournament. If Dayton is completely healthy come A-10 tournament time..it is not out of the realm of possibilities for them to run the table. But let's make sure the Flyers set themselves a place at the table first. Sunday it's Xavier followed by Fordham.

(Side note: I just bought tickets to the Fordham game and got seats 3 rows from behind the bench for $10 a piece..thank you Fordham for only having a 3,000 seat gym)

These last four games are an opportunity to not only win a couple of games..which they MUST do, but a chance to refine the offense and get this team focused for a run. The NIT is a realistic goal..an anti-climactic end to this season, but realistic. Even if that doesn't work out, there's still the inaugural College Basketball Invitational.. (yes because we REALLY need 3 postseason tournaments in college basketball).

LaSalle may have been let off the hook, but the next 4 games will truly tell us if this team has hung up on this season.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Forget the NCAA, or NIT, what about the A-10 tourney?

I hate to be the one to bring this up, but do you realize that the Flyers as of this very moment rank 11th in the Atlantic 10. In fact, as of 9:30 PM Thursday, February 21st, here are the A-10 standings...

1. Xavier 11-1
2. St. Joseph's 7-4
3. Richmond 7-4
4. Temple 7-4
5. La Salle 6-5
6. Rhode Island 6-6
7. UMass 6-6
8. Duquesne 6-6
9. St. Louis 6-6
10. Charlotte 5-6
11. Dayton 5-7
12. Fordham 4-7
13. George Washington 3-8
14. St. Bonaventure 1-10

Now, keep in mind, only the top 12 teams make the A-10 tournament. For the sake of argument, let's forget about the teams that have already reached 6 wins, and focus on the sub-.500 teams (Charlotte, UD, Fordham, GW, SBU), how they have fared against each other, and some scenarios of their remaining schedules...

Charlotte
Currently: 5-6, 10th place
Record vs. Other Bottom Feeders: 2-2 (beat Fordham and SBU, lost to UD and Fordham)
Remaining Schedule: vs. SLU, @ Temple, vs. Duquesne, vs. GW, @ URI
Scenarios: At best 4-1, most likely 3-2, but need to win at home

Dayton
Currently: 5-7, 11th place
Record vs. Other Bottom Feeders: 1-1 (beat Charlotte, lost to GW)
Remaining Schedule: vs. Xavier, @ Fordham, @ St. Bonaventure, vs. St. Joe's
Scenarios: At best 3-1, most likely 2-2, but if can't win on road, could be 0-4.

Fordham
Currently: 4-7, 12th place
Record vs. Other Bottom Feeders: 2-1 (beat GW and Charlotte, lost to Charlotte)
Remaining Schedule: @ Temple, vs. La Salle, vs. Dayton, @ Richmond, vs. St. Bonaventure
Scenarios: At best 5-0, most likely either 3-2 or 2-3, but big games at home vs. UD and SBU

George Washington
Currently: 3-8, 13th place
Record vs. Other Bottom Feeders: 2-1 (beat UD and SBU, lost to FU)
Remaining Schedule: vs. Richmond, vs. Rhode Island, @ Xavier, @ Charlotte, vs. UMass
Scenarios: At best 3-2, most likely 1-4, easily the toughest remaining schedule.

St. Bonaventure
Currently: 1-10, 14th place
Record vs. Other Bottom Feeders: 0-2 (lost to GW and Charlotte)
Remaining Schedule: @ UMass, vs. Richmond, @ SLU, vs. Dayton, @ Fordham
Scenarios: At best 4-1, most likely 0-5, it would really take a miracle.

As for how this all relates to Dayton:

SBU is probably dead, but they could hurt UD in the head-to-head matchup.

Charlotte is virtually a lock at this point and can help UD by beating GW. UD holds the tiebreaker here though.

If Fordham can pull off some road victories, they have the Flyers at home and could gain the head-to-head advantage.

GW has an absolute bitch of a schedule, and this is a good thing for Dayton. They'd have to play out of their minds at this point.

So while yes, chances are still very good for the Flyers to make the A-10 tournament, both home games are against tough opponents and both road games are against teams fighting for their postseason lives.

Remember when we were debating a top 5 seed in the NCAAs? Now we are debating a 10, 11, or 12 seed in the A-10 tournament. I feel sick.

Dayton - La Salle Live Blog

The masses have cried out for it (and by masses, I do mean two people), so I'm here to deliver. It's time to crank 'dat live blog. Incidentally, internet phenom and our newest friend here at the blog has another video out. It's no Crank 'Dat Louisville, but then again sequels never top the original.

By the way, anybody know a good way to abbreviate La Salle? I'm not typing that or 'the Explorers' 25 times tonight. LU? LSU? Back with the live blog in about an hour.

7:00 p.m. - I'm back and not a minute too soon. For the record, I don't really like the way we match up with a team like La Suck. Plus, it's a road game so who knows? Hopefully the Flyers can figure out a way to win this one. Lord knows we need it.

7:06 - Okay so not to jinx it, but I have video for this game. Go to channelsurfing.net/watch-la-salle.html. This La Salle play-by-play guy is far too excited and is screaming at the top of lungs, but I'm not one to complain.

7:11 - Holy shit, Roberts is down. Get up. Oh god, this does not look good at all.

7:14 - Looks like he might be alright. B-Rob had to go to the bench, but it's probably not as bad as it looked when he first went down. Sorry to panic.

By the way, this may be the sloppiest game of basketball I've ever seen. It seems like the teams have combined for about 17 turnovers so far. Flyers down 7-4 at the first timeout, London Warren has all four points.

7:19 - B-Rob is back in and looks to be moving okay. Once again, there is streaming video of this game online. Check the 7:06 update for the link.

The La Salle announcer just called one of their players "the Shermanator." American Pie reference. Wow.

7:24 - So you know how I said I'm not one to complain earlier? That isn't true at all; I actually have several. The first is that this play-by-play guy is literally screaming at the top of his lungs on every positive Explorers play. Like a guy will hit a short jumper in the lane and he acts like the Giants won the pennant or something. It's out of control.

My second complaint is the camera work. This broadcast is making WHIO-TV look like a group of seasoned professionals. They keep switching to a camera angle directly under the basket which makes it impossible to see if a shot was made or not. They even dissolved to a new camera when a Flyer was in the act of shooting a couple possessions ago.

Our offense is brutally bad. We've had turnovers, offensive and loose ball fouls and general inept play. La Salle up 14-8.

7:27 - Roberts with a sick no-look dish to Binnie for the easy lay-in. UD within a deuce and La Salle's coach takes an unnecessary 30-second timeout.

7:30 - B-Rob hits a stepback J to tie it. Then an Explorer misses a dunk Frank Iguodala style that ends up in the first row. Our ball.

Can any commenters get me a turnovers stat? The La Salle broadcast team tells me there have been a lot but haven't mentioned any specifics.

7:39 - Wow, a lot going on in this little stretch not the least of which is this La Salle crew quickly becoming my favorite broadcasters in the country. After that missed dunk, the play-by-play guy described it as an attempted "thunder slam." He went on to say the slam was "too posterizing and not enough technique." Oooohhh, so that's why he missed it.

Then a ticky-tack handcheck foul on the Explorers, and the color guy went into a classic rant. Apparently the ref who called it is the same guy who made the bad call at the end of the Georgetown-Villanova game a couple weeks ago. The call wasn't that bad but I'm loving his "he must have thought it was the end of the game" dig. These announcers are great.

London got a breakaway off a steal and threw down a nasty dunk with ease. That kid can get off the floor. That ignites a 7-0 run and the Flyers are up 21-15.

7:41 - London is everywhere. He is scoring, rebounding and assisting. He dished a sweet no-look to a trailing Binnie for an easy two, then he dropped a dime to Roberts for a wide open three. UD went on an 18-3 run to take a nine-point lead.

A La Salle bucket has the score at 26-19 with 2:28 left in the first half.

7:50 - Last possession of the half and the best we can get is a fallaway three by B-Rob. It's off the mark.

My criticisms aside, the Flyers really weathered the turnovers and the sluggish start to put together a nice first half. After not scoring for the first 4:00+ of this game, UD takes a 30-21 lead into the locker room.

That said, La Suck is one of the worst basketball teams I've ever seen. They are atrocious. No reason for the Flyers not to smell blood in the second half and go for the kill. This is one of those games where you need to get up by 20 and rest your starters for the last 5-7 minutes.

8:05 - After an Explorers foul, the play-by-play guys lets out a "Come on!" Awesome. It takes a lot to make Larry Hansgen look impartial and objective.

8:08 - B-Rob is just abusing La Salle defenders. This is disgusting. He's got seven quick points already this half and looks poised to take this game over.

8:10 - I'm deaf from hearing this dude scream "DAR-NELL HAR-RIS!!!" Someone tell him he is not doubling as the arena's PA announcer tonight. Unbelievable.

B-Rob answers a La Salle three with one of his own. No need to guard him this half, La Suck. Really, you'll be fine. Roberts has ten this half, not sure how many on the game. UD up 11 with 16:05 to go.

8:15 - I've got gametracker up and running, so I now have stats. B-Rob has 19 points on the game and UD has 13 assists to seven turnovers. Considering the Flyers were last in the league in A:TO ratio coming into this game, I'll take it.

Roberts gets another wide open look and splashes a three. He's up to 22 points but the Explorers answer with a triple of their own.

8:18 - DAR-NELL HAR-RIS!!! has 17 points of his own including five made threes. I take back everything I wrote up top; this broadcast team is now my least favorite ever.

8:19 - The Explorers are on an 8-0 run to get back within four. This game is far from over. 12:39 left in the second half.

8:22 - Sandoval with back-to-back drives to the hole and he scored both times. His play has been surprisingly not sucky the last half-dozen games or so. The Sand Man has ten, and London is playing well with ten points and five assists.

Some guy named Mbala (no relation to Mbang) dunks to get La Salle within eight at 57-49.

8:29 - Not to get off on a rant, but how is it that some teams the Flyers play still don't double team B-Rob? Have they seen every game UD has lost? If you double him and throw junk defenses at the Flyers all night long, they are extremely beatable. Yet for whatever reason, Temple and La Salle have played straight man-to-man and have singled him virtually all game.

Umm, what the hell Flyers? La Salle got on another little run to cut UD's lead to one. Huelsman scores inside and the good guys are up three at the under 8:00 timeout.

8:33 - Binnie makes a heckuva save to give the Flyers an extra possession. It leads to a Sandoval three to double the lead.

The La Salle color guy chimes in with this on A-Sand: "Where is this guy coming from? 13 today?" We're as surprised as you are, guy. We really are.

8:36 - Kurt airballs a free throw. Always a crowd favorite. Flyers up 63-56.

La Salle dude: "I think it's obvious the Flyers have the killer instinct." This marks the first time this phrase has ever been uttered during a UD road game.

8:40 - Speaking of sentences you'll never hear again, Andres just hit a dagger. Long two and he buried to extend the lead to seven.

Eh, I blame myself for that. As soon as I praise the kid, he throws up a fadeaway three. Airball.

8:43 - As usual, we can't inbound the ball against another team's press. Flyers forced to take a timeout up 65-60 with 1:56 left.

8:45 - Seriously, there are junior high school girls' basketball teams with a better press break than the Flyers run. You've only had five seasons to install an effective press offense, BG. It's cool though. Binnie gets trapped and the Explorers force a turnover.

Luckily, they can't capitalize and turn it right back over. London returns the favor with a charge. Then on the other end, LW grabs a defensive board but is immediately stripped. A La Salle lay-up cuts UD's lead to three.

8:47 - Roberts can't score in the lane, so the Explorers get the ball back in a one possession game. Again, it's worth mentioning that La Salle is one of the most god-awful teams I've ever seen play. They don't even get a shot up before turning it over. UD timeout up by three with 24.9 to play.

8:49 - In the least surprising turn of events ever, Sandoval misses the front end of a one-and-one. La Salle with yet another chance down just three.

Have I mentioned the Explorers are not very good at the game of basketball? A line drive three-pointer hits the backboard only. La Salle gets on the floor for the loose ball and calls a timeout. Still a three-point game with 9.0 left.

8:50 - "The Shermanator" hits a three from the corner. He was wide open due to putrid Flyers defense on the inbounds play. Clutch shot nonetheless. Tie game and timeout UD with 6.0 to go.

8:52 - Roberts lost control of the ball while dribbling up the floor. Jesus Christ. Jimmy Binnie throws up a 30-footer at the horn and it's way off. Overtime. Fuck me.

8:59 - The La Salle color guy tells us that Diaz "couldn't hit a bull in the rear end with a snow shovel." Can't say I was previously familiar with that little proverb.

The Explorers hit a three to start overtime and go up 68-65. It's their first lead of the game since 15-14 in the first half.

B-Rob answers, of course, because he's B-Rob. Sandoval misses another key front end. Two Explorers give them a 70-68 lead.

9:01 - HUGE three from Jimmy Binnie. Sandoval scores in transition to put UD up three. But Paul Johnson answers with a three to tie it back up. Fuck Paul Johnson. I don't know who this guy is, and I already hate him.

Tie game so you go to...? Brian Roberts scores on the drive. After a missed free throw, B-Rob buries an open three. Ouch, La Salle. That probably stings. Brian Roberts winning basketball games is a fun thing to watch. 78-73 UD with 52.8 left in OT.

9:09 - DAR-NELL HAR-RIS!!! says not so fast, Secaur. He hits a three from deep. UD up two.

B-Rob bricks the front end of a one-and-one. That's three missed front ends in a row for the Flyers. And Harris hits yet another three. I feel like I just got punched in the stomach.

Roberts' runner is off the mark. Mbala gets fouled on the rebound with 3.9 seconds left and makes both. B-Rob's last-second three no good. We lose 81-78.

Guess that's what I get for counting my chickens ... and all that. Ugh, what a terrible fucking loss. Are we on the NIT bubble yet?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bracketology, etc.

Notes written while composing "Crank 'Dat Dayton."

So . . . bracketelogy? Did we win a game I didn't know about? Because the most recent edition, which was updated on Monday, has the Flyers in the field as an 11 seed. I'll be honest. I didn't even see this until today. I didn't even want to look at bracketology because I just assumed the Flyers were out. I thought I'd be better served searching for NIT bracketology. And yet, there we are. I'm not sure what changed, but at least in Joe Lunardi's eyes, the Flyers apparently haven't fallen as far as some of us thought.

On a related note, something to consider when reading bracketology. It is a weekly feature, and I think it's actually updated more frequently than that this time of year. That means that it doesn't start from zero. Much like polls, it depends partly on the previous installment. I'm sure Lunardi does all he can to make it less dependent, but by nature, it's going to be that way to a certain extent. And that's completely different than the actual tournament selection process. The committee doesn't get together every week and come up with a bracket. They certainly look at what happens from week-to-week, but it's not so contingent on that. At the end of the season, they're looking more at a body of work. Whether that's good or bad for the Flyers, I don't know, but I thought I'd throw it out there.

There will be no preview for the La Salle game. I'm not one to mess with karma. There will be some sort of pregame something, but it will not be a preview.

Even at 5-6 in the conference, the Flyers are just two games out of second place, which is kind of incredible. Xavier's going to run away with first place, but it sure looks like everything else is up for grabs. It's reasonable to say that 11 teams have a shot at second place.

Speaking of Xavier, I went to the Rhode Island-Xavier game on Monday night and cheered against the Musketeers. It didn't help much. They held off a late extend-the-game-with-fouls charge by URI for the win, and they looked pretty impressive doing it. I think they're a legitimate top 10 team, and it's not just because of their body of work -- it's also the way they play. Somehow, they're always in complete control, a quality that, as a Dayton fan, I envy greatly. The Flyers are never in control.

And now a few non-basketball notes:

UD quarterback Kevin Hoyng plans on trying to make it in the NFL as a free safety. According to the article, Hoyng was timed last summer in the 40-yard dash at 4.45, which means he's certainly got the speed. I'd also think playing quarterback in college would help out in the football IQ department. I'm not sure if Dayton has had an NFL player in the modern era, so it would be pretty cool if Hoyng catches on somewhere. Best of luck to him.

The UD baseball program has had some great years recently, but hasn't really moved into the upper echelon of college baseball. But at least one player will do that this summer. Junior pitcher Quinn Haselhorst is slated to pitch in the Cape Cod Baseball League, the most prestigious summer collegiate league in the country. I actually know quite a bit about the league because my family used to take vacations there and we would always go to games. It's big-time baseball. Some games, you'll see 10 or 15 scouts, and just about everybody who plays in the league will get drafted. So it's a pretty big deal for Haselhorst, who's currently listed on the roster of the Orleans Cardinals. Also a pretty big deal for Dayton. I don't ever remember a Flyer playing in the Cape League.

Stonemill's Other Favorite Team

Ever wonder what Stonemill does with his free time up there in Rhode Island? Clearly, he is a diehard Flyers fan -- passionate enough to follow the team through thick and thin, take time out of his busy day to post on this blog, and even catch UD in action live when they travel to his new home state. But I'll bet you didn't know about one of his other hobbies. He's a hardcore Louisville Cardinals fan and, apparently when he's not blogging about the Flyers, he's recording youtube videos about his other favorite team. Crank that Louisville, Stonemill.



P.S. Anyone up for a live blog of tomorrow night's LaSalle game? No TV or video stream that I know of, so it could be an interesting one. Is the live blog bad luck or just the game previews? I've never been one to be overly superstitious, so if you fools will read it, I'm game. Let me know what you think.

-KS

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Dan Fox: Awesome

The man pictured on the right is UD walk-on Dan Fox. Until I pulled up that picture on daytonflyers.com, I would not have been able to pick Dan Fox out of a lineup.

But, without even stepping on the floor, Fox may have made a pretty big impact on the Flyers' season.

If you haven't already, you should read this article by Tom Archdeacon. It's the story of Fox's decision to address the team and give his thoughts on what has changed and what needs to change again.

Judging from what's revealead in the article, I'd say Fox was spot-on.

There's this:

"I told them we need to bounce back on the next possession each time because when we play with that passion, we're one of the top teams in the nation, an NCAA tournament team."

And also this:

"I told [Brian Roberts] how at Louisville, he'd made a great play and came down the court clenching his fists and yelling, and that picture appeared in every paper in the country. I told him right then he'd set the tone, and I knew we weren't going to lose. I told him I hadn't seen that lately and we need to get back to that."

I think many Flyer fans would agree with most everything Fox said, and that shouldn't be surprising. Walk-ons have a unique perspective. They're on the team and doing everything the big-time players do, but they're far enough away from the action that they can see it from a different point of view. Essentially, they're insiders with an outsider's vantage point.

That can be a valuable perspective. Sometimes when you're deeply invested in something, you're less aware of what's really going on. You get caught up in it. Fox is caught up in it, too, but he can step out of it at the same time. That's why I think it's great that he spoke up.

I hope the rest of the Flyers remember what he said.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Nothing Left to Lose

Apologies for the lack of posts the last few days. It seems this blog operates best when there are thousands of things to examine and analyze, thousands of meanings to find.

Incidentally, the Dayton Flyers seem to be the opposite.

The game the Flyers played against Temple on Saturday was the game they needed to play the week before at George Washington and a few days before against Duquesne.

But maybe they couldn’t have played that game without the two before. So much drama and must-win cries surrounded this team, it almost seemed like they felt the weight of it and struggled with it. That’s not a good thing, of course. You like a team that responds under pressure, not one that wilts in the face of it.

Somehow, though, this seemed different. The Flyers had been untouchable. In the midst of injury problems and the feeling-out of new roles, they became far from untouchable. Their confidence was shaken, and all the while, as they saw their own goals slipping away, they held on as tightly as they possibly could.

And, at least as a partial result, they played some bad basketball.

The losses to George Washington and Duquesne epitomized the bad basketball. There were good spurts, but in general, the Flyers didn’t make the plays to get victories, the plays that they’d made throughout the first 14 games of the season.

So their goals slipped further, far enough that they had little to hold onto.

Maybe that Temple game was proof that, if this team’s going to make a run, losing their grip was exactly the way it had to start.

Brian Gregory explains: "You talk about is this a win you can build on, is this a crushing loss? Every game is one game. All we did today was for 40 minutes play better than a very good team.”

I’m sure that BG has preached this one-game-at-a-time mentality throughout the season, but I’m not convinced the Flyers completely bought into it. Maybe early on, yes, but once success came, how could they avoid thinking about what each and every game might mean?

And that kind of thinking was trouble. The worse things went, the worse the team played. And the worse the team played, the more worried they became about their future. It was a vicious circle.

The losses, as devastating as they were, at least took the Flyers out of that circle. Because an at-large bid suddenly felt so far away, I’m guessing the worrying ceased. The Flyers played Temple like they had nothing to lose.

That’s exactly the way they have to play from here on out, and I’m not sure playing that way would have been possible without the losses. I’m not saying the losses were a good thing. Any time you lose your grip on an sure-thing at-large bid, it’s not a good thing.

But had the Flyers gotten victories over GW and Duquesne, they’d still be locked in that vicious circle, constantly wondering what the next game means. They wouldn’t be loose for the stretch run; they’d be tighter than ever. And I honestly believe that at some point in the final few games, they would stumble and lose their grip then.

By losing it now, they’ve at least given themselves a chance to finish strong.

And with the pressure off, they may have given themselves a better chance.

We’ll see what happens Thursday.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Insert Preview Here

The last time I didn't do a preview, the Flyers actually won, so in an effort to restore some good karma, we're going without a preview today as well.

Actually, the real reason is I don't have time.

Actually, the real, real reason is this: I'm absolutely deflated.

Before Wednesday's loss to Duquesne, it felt like the Flyers were in a battle. It was an uphill battle, but that made it all the more compelling. They were fighting for their lives every single game.

Now, I think the consensus is that an at-large bid disappeared with the loss to the Dukes. The only fight now is for a good seed in the A-10 tournament. Analysis and opinion aside, that's flat-out disappointing. This season had lost a lot of its luster but you knew it still had the potential to be there. Now, there's just a much different feel. Something is missing.

The season isn't over by any means. The Flyers could still finish extremely strong, add in a win over Xavier, make a deep run in the A-10 tournament and steal an at-large bid. But the other deflating thing is the Flyers have been playing so poorly and so uninspired, that a run like that hardly seems possible.

As UD fans, we all hope it is possible. It's up to the Flyers to make it happen. It begins today with Temple. The Owls are a dangerous team. If the Flyers are resigned to their fate, they're not going to win. If they're dwelling on Wednesday's loss, they're not going to win.

And if, like the rest of us, they're wondering where the magic went, they're not going to win, either.

They've just got to fight to get it back.

That's a fight we could all get behind.

Go Flyers.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Even Jayson Stark reads us

On the front page of ESPN this afternoon, there's a story for Baseball Spring Training (which is starting to look better and better after last night's game), by Jayson Stark..a reputable writer.

The first words to begin the article say:

"And Now For Something Completely Different"

..could Jayson Stark be influenced by Peanut Butter & A Blanket???
(not that we stole did it out of honor for Monty Python)

Speaking of popularity, along with "Fuck Xavier", we are the number 1 search on Google for "Jerry Wainwright + Huckleberry Hound"

And to think how proud our parents must be..

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Dayton-Duquesne Live Blog

6:28 p.m. - In the building, fools ... and on the real press row to boot. I'll be back at tip time for the live blog.

6:48 - Looks like Binnie, Huelsman, Sandoval, Johnson and B-Rob -- the normal, Chris Wright-less starting line-up for the Flyers.

First question: What does Charles Little have to do to get a start over Binnie? My guess is play better defense and be less prone to early foul trouble.

Second question: Anybody else worried about the throwback unis the Flyers are going with tonight? UD is 12-0 in the regular home whites and 0-1 in the powder blues. If we lose tonight, throwbacks and alternate color jerseys should be banned for all eternity.

7:11 - Huelsman just abused a Duquesne big man. Marcus Johnson follows up with an and-1. That's how I like to start. 5-0 Flyers.

7:15 - Binnie hit a nice J but then committed an awful turnover on a 3-on-2 situation. Two Dukes free throws and it's a 7-6 game.

7:17 - DU big man Kieron Achara just got hit in the face with a pass. That pretty much made my night already. A Sand Man three puts UD up 14-6 at the first timeout.

If you're the Flyers, you can't let Duquesne set up their press. It's given us a bit of trouble in the early going and, seeing as its his fifth season, Brian Gregory has yet to design an effective press break.

7:23 - Marcus Johnson is ballin' tonight. Seven points already on three really nice plays around the rim. The Dukes are getting some decent looks but can't buy a three.

London Warren just makes stuff happen. It isn't always good but it's usually entertaining. Crazy play instigated by LW leads to a Binnie lay-up. Duquesne hits a three but it's 18-9 Flyers.

7:30 - Flyers getting beat to too many rebounds and loose balls right now. This Italian looking ref is whistle happy tonight. Eight total fouls and he's probably called six of them.

Random thought but DU has a guard named Reggie Jackson. Do you think they call him Mr. October?

7:32 - Two pretty lay-ups by Little, but it's all for naught. The Dukes hit a three and convert an and-1 to cut the lead to five. I don't even wanna know how many offensive boards Duquesne has right now.

7:39 - Aaron Jackson buries a three but Thiago responds with a lay-up for the Flyers. 26-22. UD has scored pretty much at will tonight, but the Dukes are getting an open three any time they want it. If they start hitting, this game could end up in the high 80s or 90s.

LW glasses some dude's lay-up attempt. Little hits 1-2 free throws on the other end to put UD up five again.

7:41 - B-Rob on the board for the first time tonight with just 5:25 left in the first half. I don't like this trend of it taking him a long time to get in the scoring column, but at least he knocked down a trey.

7:47 - Mickey Perry is to the Flyers as Ryan Cabrera is to us. It's like I remember hearing some good things about him and having some pretty solid expectations, but he's turned out to be the invisible man. He's been out there on the floor tonight but he just hasn't done anything. Kinda like Cabrera is listed on the right side of the page, but he's never posted anything. (That's right, I'm calling you out Ryan Cabrera. Post something good for me to read.)

Sandoval with a tough board inside and a stickback. Gary Tucker answers with a three-ball on the other end; these Dukes are pretty feisty. B-Rob scores on a runner. 35-30, good guys.

7:52 - Broadcasting Fool writes:
Secaur, not sure if you are looking at these comments or not, but I'm pretty sure that B-Rob had points before his 3. I think he had an early 2 (at least according to Larry and Bucky he did), the 3 gave him 5, then the runner off the glass now gives him 7 at the under-4 timeout.

And he's right; I'm a jackass ... but my point stands. Two points after 14 minutes of play is no good.

Right on cue, the man in question hits a corner three to give UD a nine point lead. He now has ten for the game, which makes me happy. BUT, Duquesne remains feisty. A Tucker three and a hoop inside cuts the lead to 39-34. Flyers take a timeout with 32.8 seconds left in the half.

7:55 - Dayton holds for one shot but B-Rob turns it over, and we've got a five point game at the half.

8:08 - Looking at the numbers, Duquesne has eight offensive rebounds which is too many but it seemed like a lot more. The Flyers are out-rebounding the Dukes 17-16. DU is 4-15 from three. Like I said, if they start knocking some down, watch out.

The Flyers are lights out tonight, and DU's (lack of) defense has a lot to do with that. UD is shooting 64% from the field and 75% (3-4) from three. They're a very Dayton-like 4-9 from the foul line. Just like this team to shoot those numbers from the field and then convert only 44% from the line.

B-Rob is 4-7 from the floor and has made both of this threes. Perhaps criticizing him for only scoring two points in the first 14:00 was a little harsh. I only expect him to score 30 a night and never to miss a shot. Is that asking too much?

8:16 - A flurry of action to start the second half. Huelsman got his weak shit packed, but B-Rob calmly buries a 27-footer as the shot clock expires to bail him out. Nasty.

Thiago has really outplayed Kurt H. tonight. Kurt's still my boy, but T is making a case for some more minutes.

Don't look now, but Duquesne has started the half on an 8-3 run to tie the ball game. 42 apiece with 15:27 to go.

8:19 - From Stonemill:
Cabrera really bought into the latter part of my contribute as much or as little as you want email. Maybe BG sent Mickey Perry the same email?

For whatever reason, picturing BG sending out an email to one of his players has me cracking up.

B-Rob with a nice take to give him 15 on the night. MJ pins a DU shot against the glass on the other end. How sweet is it to have guards who are athletic enough to do that stuff? 45-42 UD.

8:22 - The UD Arena crowd is somewhat less than pleased with the officiating tonight. I am somewhat less than pleased with the Flyers atrocious free throw shooting. Thiago misses two and this is just getting ridiculous.

Random note: the guys sitting behind me know the first name of all three referees. Gotta like fans who do their homework.

8:26 - I always love when the ref at half court calls a goaltend. The dude a foot away from the hoop saw nothing, but whatever.

The Dukes grab the lead briefly at 46-45, but Huelsman finally goes strong to the goal. Flyers back up one at the under 12:00 timeout.

8:32 - Little gets a nasty dunk to put UD up by one. B-Rob follows with a hesitation move that is an absolute thing of beauty. He's scored 17 tonight and Little's added eight points.

But a would-be turnover turns into an incidental alley-oop. Then the Flyers turn the ball over against the press AGAIN. The Dukes get a bunny to go back ahead 52-51. Timeout Flyers.

8:38 - Aaron "don't call me Reggie" Jackson hits a three to give DU its largest lead of the night. He has a quiet 17 points (if that's possible) to lead the Dukes. MJ rebounds a Little airball and puts it back in. On the next possession, Johnson skies about a foot above the rim and basically gets clotheslined trying to corral the board. No call. It's 55-53 bad guys with 5:16 to play.

8:40 - This has turned out to be a helluva ball game. My opinion on that will likely change if UD does not come away with a W. Key stats in this one are free throw shooting (5-15?!?) and turnovers (UD 16- Duq 6).

8:42 - Need a hoop to tie it up and who else? It's B-Rob with 19. Duquesne scores way too easily -- a wide open lay-up off the inbounds play. We struggle to inbound the ball against the press as usual. 57-55 Dukes with 3:54 left.

8:46 - Shawn James hits a three and it's not looking good. But Roberts responds with a HUGE trey. Back to within two.

Holy crap. James has ice water in his veins. That's back-to-back threes. Duquesne up 63-58 and a UD timeout.

8:50 - Little hits one free throw. The Dukes have the ball after a timeout up by four with 1:05 remaining.

8:53 - Yikes. Roberts airballs a three with 38.8 to go. Holy shit. All hope was lost until Johnson comes up with an unbelievable block ... and a must-have driving lay-up. Down 63-61 with 21.4 left. Marcus has 11 points and 12 boards in this one.

9:01 - Wow. Just wow. An unbelievable finish ... and not in the good way. Duquesne's inept press break makes the Flyers look competent. They ran two sets, one of which involved two players running into one another and one falling down, and failed to get the ball inbounds both times.

After back-to-back timeouts, the Dukes finally get the ball in only to throw a long outlet pass. Too long, in fact. It went out of bounds to give UD new life.

But UD couldn't take advantage. Roberts killed his dribble unfortunately, and a contested Sandoval three hit the front iron. Game over. 63-61 loss at home against Duquesne. Have to win the A10 Tournament to have any shot of going to the dance now...

Good night and thanks for playing along at home.

-KS

Duquesne Preview

DUQUESNE DUKES (15-7, 5-4)

Head Coach: Ron Everhart (second season)

Game Time: 7 p.m.

Location: UD Arena

Television: WHIO/Online Streaming at daytonflyers.com

All-Time Series: UD leads 40-16

Last Meeting: In one of those “UD Can’t Win on the Road” games, Duquesne beat the Flyers 93-89 last year in Pittsburgh.

George Washington’s Best Win: 102-88 over St. Joseph’s on Feb. 6. Really the only good team the Dukes have beaten, even though they’ve looked very good in some near misses.

A-10 So Far

Win – Fordham, George Washington, St. Bonaventure, St. Joes, at La Salle

Losses – at Rhode Island, at Fordham, at UMass, at St. Bonaventure

Probable Starting Lineup

G Aaron Jackson – Jr. – 6’4 180 – 9.5 PPG
G Reggie Jackson – Sr. – 5’11 170 – 8.2 PPG
G Gary Tucker – Sr. – 6’1 185 – 9.1 PPG
F Kieron Achara – Sr. – 6’10 240 – 11.1 PPG
F Damian Saunders – Fr. – 6’7 205 – 7.5 PPG

*Note: Much like GW, the Dukes have switched things up lately, so this may not be right.

What a Win Would Mean

At this point, every game is huge. The Flyers have to win just to hold serve.

What a Loss Would Mean

A home loss after a bad road loss with rumblings already starting that the Flyers are in trouble? Not good at all.

Breakdown

I said a few months ago after watching the Duquesne-Rhode Island game on TV that I thought the Dukes were scary, and that I was glad the Flyers would be getting them at home.

Both statements ring even truer now.

The Dukes have shown some chinks in their armor, but they’re still scary, especially the way the Flyers have been playing. Duquesne will make the Flyers run, and it’s going to be tough to keep up.

The good news, is I’m still very glad UD is playing Duquesne at home.

Check out that conference record. Four wins at home, four losses on the road. The one outlier was a road win against La Salle. Other than that, the Dukes have been woeful in conference road games.

That’s the biggest thing the Flyers have going for them tonight. If they can start off strong and get the crowd involved, the Dukes may wilt.

If they don’t, look out.

The Dukes are among the deepest teams in the league, and their ability to force the tempo is pretty impressive. They’ve scored fewer than 70 points once in conference play. Twice, they’ve scored over 100.

A pair of transfers – guard Kojo Mensah and center Shawn James – lead the way. Mensah is a tough-as-nails penetrator who can drill the outside shot, too. He averages 13.6 points. James, probably the most athletic big man in the conference, leads the team with 14.7 points a game, but his biggest contributions come at the defensive end. He has 88 blocks on the season for a ridiculous average of four per game. He’s one of the best in the nation and he’ll control the paint as long as he’s in there.

That duo is bolstered by a deep supporting cast that has six players averaging more than seven points per game. Kieron Achara averages 11.1 per game and had 21 on Saturday against La Salle.

The best way to beat the Dukes is to slow them down. In their four conference losses, they’ve averaged 72 points per game. In five wins, that average is 90.

But it’s easier said than done for anyone to slow down the Dukes, though, and for a Dayton team that never dictates tempo, it’s probably going to be downright impossible.

I’d expect this game to be much like the Rhode Island home game and the UMass game. The Flyers will have to play fast and the biggest key will be defending in transition and making shots. In that Rhody game, the Flyers did that. Against UMass, not so much.

And we all know how different the results were.

Prediction

Dayton 84, Duquesne 78 – I always pick the Flyers if you haven’t noticed, but I do think the fact that this one is at home will make a sizeable difference.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What's it gonna take?

That's the question on the mind of pretty much every Flyers fan these days. What's it gonna take for Dayton to get into the NCAA Tournament? At the time of this post, the Flyers sit at 16-6 (4-5 A10), 15th in the RPI, and 22nd in strength of schedule with seven regular season games to play. Let's break it down:

  • 6-1 down the stretch gets us an at-large bid. No doubt about it, it's a lock. According to RPI Forecast, a 22-7 overall record projects to a final RPI of 17.5. No way anyone in their right mind leaves the Flyers out if that's the case.
  • If we go 5-2 in the final seven, the situation gets a little more dicey. That puts us at 21-8 with a projected RPI of 25.3. That's still really good, but the 9-7 conference record worries me. The A10 is on an uptick this year but not so much so that you can afford to finish barely above .500 in it. My instincts: 21-8 with a loss in the first round of the A10 tourney doesn't do it. Two wins in the A10 tourney (to get to 23-9 overall) and there's no way to leave the Flyers out. 21-8 and 1-1 in Atlantic City and I have no clue. You're at the mercy of the selection committee at that point.
  • Finish 4-3 and what do you win? Well, the opportunity to sleep in your own bed if nothing else as hosting a first round game in the NIT seems awfully likely. A .500 record in conference play forces Dayton to win the A10 tourney if it wants to be dancing this season.

So that's my take on the "state of the Flyers" as of 2/12. In related news, I'm going to attempt a live blog (or running diary, if you prefer) from inside UD Arena tomorrow night. Weather permitting, I'm making the drive up from Cincy. While I won't have the best broadcast team in all of college hoops to mock, I will bring you all the juicy details you're dying to know (such as what food they're serving in the media room). So tune in while you're listening to/watching the game, read the live blog and leave me comments.

Plus, I'm pretty sure this is a violation of NCAA regulations, so that's a major bonus. Breaking the law, bitches. We're pretty bad ass here at peanut butter & a blanket.

See you tomorrow but until then, watch this and yearn for the days when we will see it again.

And Now for Something Completely Different..

I have been MIA, AWOL for the last couple of weeks but figured it was time for me to chime in on our beloved Flyers.

If you have read my posts before, I typically am a "glass is half-full" kind of guy. We can reference that (oh my god Frank Iguodala Lives! is using actual references..what's up with that?) with my post last year in supporting Brian Gregory as well as this year with the claim that the Atlantic 10 is stronger

With that said, I certainly think the Atlantic-10 is stronger which I think gives Dayton a lot of leeway in their recent struggles, especially since you combine that with the absences of Charles Little and Chris Wright. In fact, there's been a precedent set by a team with almost a similar record making the NCAA tournament from the Atlantic-10. The 2003-2004 Richmond Spiders.


That's right the same Spiders that were led by the present coach of DePaul, Jerry Wainwright.

Off-topic: Does anybody else think that Jerry Wainwright looks like the cartoon character Huckleberry Hound? More importantly does anyone know who Huckleberry Hound is? If not, see below:






(Don't ask why I think this..anyways I digress)


The Spiders had a marquee win at #3 Kansas that year and finished the season 20-13 with a record of 10-6 in the A-10. The received an 11 seed and promptly crapped the bed, losing to Providence. The Spiders that year were relatively healthy, their star players not injured and still were able to make the tournament with that record, during again, a strong A-10 year.


So you see, it's not nearly crazy to think the Flyers can and will make the NCAA tournament..except:


THE FLYERS WILL NOT MAKE THE NCAA TOURNAMENT!!


There I said it..and I can, I'm an alumni. I truly want to believe that above statement is untrue, I really do..but as I say this, I'm quietly ordering my NIT program.


I know you're saying, but why Frank, you're always the calming voice when the bandwagon is almost tipped and we have to forge the river..oh wait, forging the river and wagons was Oregon Trail..sorry.


UD lacks a certain something...not scoring, because they can do that (especially if they would not run the "let's only set ballscreens for Brian Roberts and than run the weave" offense.) They're not lacking the players, even with Chris Wright out, this is a very good team that is in the top tier of the A-10. Hmm..what could they be lacking..could it be...


THE KILLER INSTINCT


..and see you thought I was going to say Satan (a la Church Lady from SNL). The Flyers just do not have it. What is the killer instict you ask? It's the ability to rise to that level to put a team away, especially an inferior opponent. Duke has the killer instinct (i.e. blowing out NC State in the 2nd half after being down 9 at the break). Clemson does not (blowing a HUGE lead at North Carolina and still losing in 2OT's).


Sidebar: What's with Dayton coaches and no killer instinct? Oliver Purnell didn't and still doesn't have it? Maybe that's our gimmick, you know, Princeton has their offense, Syracuse has their 2-3 zone, Tennessee has their run and gun offense and half naked painted coaches..we lack Killer Instinct.


Case in point, the George Washington game. There Dayton was, after chipping away, with a 4 point lead at one juncture of the game. The good teams find the extra gear and put that away, the others..well you know what happens.


Last sidebar: What is with George Washington beating Dayton at the buzzer, they did it to the Flyers back in '04 during the Pops Mensah-Bonsu era.



I truly want to believe this team will pull out an NCAA bid, but if you want my glass is half-full comment here it is:


Dayton will make it to the Final Four..


Of the NIT (which they legitimately could)


For now, hopefully the Flyers find that killer instinct. If not, they could always install the clock from last night's Tennessee-Rutgers women's game to help them out in close situations.

Monday, February 11, 2008

What They Are Saying

Okay, so I have no idea what to call this entry, but I figure at this point in the season, it's definitely worth it to check in weekly with the various "national media" websites, and see where they have the Flyers in terms of positioning for the NCAA tournament.

In no particular order...

ESPN.com Bubble Watch (as of Monday, February 11th) http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/bubblewatch

Flyers are in the "work left to do" column. Here's what is said about them:

"Dayton [16-6 (4-5), RPI: 16, SOS: 19] Despite still-imposing computer numbers, the Flyers need to be bumped down a notch this week after a final-seconds 3 beat them at GW. Yes, they handled Charlotte midweek, and yes, they should get a lot of consideration for Chris Wright's absence, assuming he can return soon and the Flyers start winning again when he does. But they are entering dangerous league-standings territory, and it might be hard for the committee to overlook what could be a sixth- or seventh-place finish. Dayton had two outstanding nonconference wins -- at Louisville and versus Pitt -- and had several other solid nonleague wins. Another very interesting situation to watch, since this clearly was an NCAA team after 15 games, before the injury bug struck."

ESPN Bracketology (as of Monday, February 11th) http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/bracketology

Flyers still in, as a 10 seed playing Marquette in Little Rock

CBS Sportsline Projecting the Seeds (as of Thursday, February 7th) http://www.sportsline.com/collegebasketball/story/10623771

Dayton as a 9 seed, but again this doesn't include the horrific loss to GW.

CNNSI.com Bubble Watch (as of Monday, February 11th) http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/stewart_mandel/02/11/bubble.watch/index.html

Dayton as a 9 seed, playing Arkansas.

Stewart Mandel also has this to say about the A-10:

"The Atlantic 10, which has four entrants in this week's field, could ultimately wind up with as many as five bids or as few as two. Xavier (20-4) appears to be the only lock. Dayton (16-6), which beat Pittsburgh and Louisville early on, looked that way at one point but has lost five-of-seven while playing without second-leading scorer Chris Wright. The committee takes injuries into account, however, and Wright is expected to return before the tourney.

Meanwhile, Rhode Island (20-4) remains in good shape despite losing at UMass last week. The Minutemen (15-8) are in as of now, but sit just 4-5 in the conference. And while St. Joe's (15-7) is tied for second with Rhode Island following a last-second loss at Xavier on Sunday, the Hawks -- whose sole quality wins came in a sweep of UMass -- simply don't have the résumé yet."

FoxSports.com Breaking the Bracket (Updated through games on February 7th) http://msn.foxsports.com/cbk/story/7773102/Breaking-the-Bracket:-An-early-look

Flyers as a 10 seed, playing Ole Miss in Birmingham.

I will do my best to post links to these sites when they are updated. I am going to be out of town for a few days this weekend, so if I don't get to it sooner, look for an update next Monday.

This hurts me more than it hurts you


I swear to god I will post this every single time. You hear that Pitino? Huggins? Weber and Pearl? Even you, Purnell. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go back and label each of these posts with an "ugly suit" tag.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

AGGHAGHAGHHHHHAGGGHAHHHHHHH

I didn't have a good title for this post, so I just decided to do my best to imitate the sound the Flyers are making down the stretch. As of about 5 minutes ago, Dayton just lost to George Washington, a profoundly unforgivable defeat. The Flyers are now 16-6, and 4-5 in the A-10.

So that begs the question, if you were on the NCAA Selection Committee, as of this moment would you put the Flyers in the Big Dance?

Positives:
-Still a strong RPI (although it will take a serious hit losing to GW, whose RPI was 254 coming into this game).
-Wins at Louisville, vs. Pitt, and vs. Rhode Island (all in the top 50 RPI)
-A 6-4 record vs. Top 100 RPI teams
-Many of the losses came without some of the top players (Little and Wright)

Negatives:
-Losses at GW and Richmond, both with RPIs over 100
-Have lost 5 of their past 7 games
-Sub .500 conference record

I know we are all Dayton fans here, so the inclination would be to say "Yes, I put them in." However, you have to think like a committee member here, and my thought is that after tonight's defeat, the Flyers are on the outside looking in. A few solid wins could change that, but as of this moment, I don't think they get in.

Your thoughts?

George Washington Preview

GEORGE WASHINGTON COLONIALS (5-13, 1-7)

Head Coach: Karl Hobbs (seventh season)

Game Time: 7 p.m.

Location: Smith Center, Washington, D.C.

Television: CSTV

All-Time Series: GW leads 13-8

Last Meeting: Dayton knocked off the A-10 leading Colonials 84-69 on Jan. 31, 2007

George Washington’s Best Win: St. Louis? They did hold the Billikens to 20 points.

A-10 So Far

Win – St. Louis

Losses – at Fordham, Xavier, at Rhode Island, at Duquesne, St. Joe’s, at Temple, La Salle

Probable Starting Lineup

G Maureece Rice – Sr. – 6’1 224 – 11.1 PPG
G Xavier Alexander– Fr. – 6’6 215 – 3.9 PPG
F Rob Diggs – Jr. – 6’8 202 – 13.1 PPG
F Wynton Witherspoon – Jr. – 6’7 197 – 11.7 PPG
F Hermann Opoku – So. – 6’9 225 – 0.8 PPG

*Note: The Colonials have used a different starting lineup in each of the last three games, so who knows? This is the lineup from their most recent game.

What a Win Would Mean

A two-game winning streak, something the Flyers haven’t had in quite some time. It would also prove that UD hasn’t reverted back into “Holy Shit! This isn’t UD Arena! We’re gonna lose!” mode, which they had gotten over earlier this season. They’ve since lost three straight on the road.

What a Loss Would Mean

After a pretty solid win over Charlotte, a loss would hurt bad. The remaining games are classified into winnable and not so winnable. This one is about as winnable as it gets, which puts it into the “Can’t Lose” category.

Breakdown

What the hell happened to George Washington? The Colonials have been an A-10 heavyweight the last few years and the way Karl Hobbs was building the program, you figured they’d stay in the upper echelon for a long time to come. Instead, they’ve fallen way off the map this season. If not for St. Louis scoring an NCAA record for fewest points, the Colonials might be winless in the A-10.

Strangely enough, there are no real glaring weaknesses on the stat sheet. They don’t shoot the ball particularly well, but other than that, they don’t have the look of a team that’s 5-13.

That’s where they are, though, and their last loss might be considered rock bottom. They were blown out at home by La Salle in a game that left everybody shaking their heads. Coach Karl Hobbs had this to say: "We came out real flat, while La Salle came out with energy and ready to play. And we just never recovered. We never got our footing after that."

And, on the topic of making the A-10 tournament, he had this to say: “"I'm not that concerned about that. I'm more concerned about getting the team to play at a certain level...If we can do that, we'll have a realistic shot. But that's not something we can talk about until we're playing at a high level."

So you can be pretty sure GW spent the three days since the La Salle loss focusing on playing at a higher level and on not coming out flat. That means the Flyers could potentially be in for a dogfight because for as much as the Colonials have struggled, they’re still dangerous. Two weeks ago, they lost by just two points to St. Joe’s and if not for a few missed opportunities, they might have pulled the upset.

Junior Rob Diggs has become the go-to guy for the Colonials, but a lot still hinges on senior guard Maureece Rice. When he was held scoreless against La Salle, it was the first time that’s happened since his freshman year. It’s probably not a coincidence that the Colonials were blown out in that game.

Like most George Washington teams of recent years, this one has its share of athletes, from Damian Hollis to Wynton Witherspoon, Cheyenne Moore and Xavier Alexander. They’re all tall, lanky, and pretty much interchangeable. The problem for the Colonials is that pretty much everybody is short on experience. Rice is the only senior playing more than five minutes a game, and that lack of experience has hurt the Colonials in close games.

Dayton, meanwhile, has excelled in late-game situations, so that could end up being a big advantage. I’m guessing another one will be the Flyers’ inside game. The Colonials really don’t have a true center other than 6’10 Joseph Katuka, who plays only 10 minutes per game. Kurt Huelsman needs to capitalize on that.

As for other match-ups, style of play, defense, etc., it’s tough to gauge how things will go. I get the feeling that this GW team has confounded its fans and its coaches throughout the season. It’s not easy to say what you’ll get on a given night.

Prediction

Dayton 68, George Washington 61 – The way things are going, I can’t imaging anything being easy ever again. This one will be a grind, but the Flyers will pull away in the second half.