Thursday, March 27, 2008

Ouch

There's really no joke or comment here. I just thought this photo was interesting.

A few notes my own...

Very disappointing way to end the season. I was fairly optimistic after the first half, but this team couldn't shoot to save its life in the second half and when you combine that with very weak defense any team is in a lot of trouble. On to the notes...

  • As Uncreative Commuter said the atmosphere was great before the game and during the first half. I was there with a friend who is an ohio state fan and he commented that he's never heard an opposing team's cheers during a buckeye game before. The fans were pumped before the start and with the back and forth first half the intensity level picked up. I know my voice is a little weak today. You couldn't have asked for a much better college basketball atmosphere. I'm hoping that this atmosphere and great fan turnout (a sellout) will lead to a home and home series with the buckeyes. It makes no sense for these teams not too play. I'm hoping osu will step up and accept a home and home (but I doubt they will risk coming to UD Arena)...
  • One thing I was very impressed with was watching London Warren defend jamar butler. I know butler finished with 12 points, but about part way through the second half he was stuck on three. butler ran Warren through a variety of screens and Warren always seemed to stick right with him. I've never really thought of Warren as a lock down defender but maybe he can develop into that...
  • One pleasant surprise was the play of Devin Searcy in the first half. I've never been impressed with him all season, but he played a monster first half after Huelsman picked up his second foul. He defended koufos and hunter well and even added 4 points. (I could have sworn he had at least one block but he didn't get credit for any). I'm hoping this is a sign that he will be able to contribute important minutes next year...
  • While the primary reason UD lost was their terrible shooting in the second half, I was very disappointed in their defense throughout the game. It seemed that as a general rule when osu ran a screen and roll, the Flyers did a terrible job of rotating their weakside defender over to take away the post rolling. Overall, the help side defense was pretty pathetic last night. The buckeyes played very well last night (and have been for a good two weeks now), but a decent defensive team could have held them to at least under 50% from the field. I've never thought of this team as a good defensive team I didn't think they were this bad...
  • I will NOT miss Jimmie Binnie or Andres Sandoval. I've never been a big fan of theirs and if Binnie isn't hitting the three and Sandoval is on the court this Dayton team was in trouble. It's almost (and only almost) worth having Roberts graduate to get rid of these two. Addition by subtraction...
  • One thing I noticed again last night and have seen a number of times this season is one of my new favorite players Stephen Thomas. The guy barely gets on the court and lost minutes once Mickey Perry started to find his footing, but if you watch, Thomas is the first guy up to meet a player when they are taken out of the game. When someone hits a big shot you almost have to hold the guy back from coming onto the court. He comes across as being a true team player who doesn't care about his minutes and just wants to see the team win. In today's game where everyone complains if they aren't starting I've enjoyed watching Thomas rooting on his teammates. Hopefully he can continue to improve and be an energy guy off the bench next season to spell London Warren...
  • Finally, I would like to thanks Brian Roberts for everything he did over the last few seasons. It sounds like Stonemill is planning to post a much more eloquent look at Roberts career than anything I can write, but I wanted to throw my own thanks to Roberts out there. It pained me last night to watch Roberts walk through the line of coaches and teammates for the last time and I can't imagine seeing the Flyers on the court with out #2 on the floor. Thank you Brian Roberts and you will be missed...

Back From The Game

First, a couple of notes:
• The atmosphere was great. Tons of UD fans and the Flyers chants were sometimes louder than the OSU ones.
• Chris Wright is the real deal. I was happy to finally get to see him in person.
• Ohio State is probably better than UD. Kosta Koufos is really good. I told my coworkers that I was putting the over/under on his points tonight vs. Huelsman/Binnie at 20, and I took the over.

But it's fitting that UD's season ended tonight at Ohio State, a place where "nice guy" John Cooper was fired. Cooper had a nice overall record and got OSU to a few good bowls, but he couldn't beat Michigan and the Buckeyes usually struggled in the postseason.

To me, Brian Gregory is John Cooper. Gregory is a nice guy with a nice overall record at UD. But the man cannot coach/motivate. He can't get it done against Xavier, and I just got home from watching his Flyers once again play well in the first half only to come out in the second flat and uninspired. I'm just sick of it honestly. It's a broken record.

The game's result aside, I had a good time. Here are some photos I took:

I really did have great seats. It was in Section 131, in the first row of "real" seats (not folding chairs) on the aisle. I couldn't have had better seats I think. And there were many UD fans nearby.

One of my coworkers was nice enough to bring me UD's regular season and postseason media guides prior to the game. That Adam's a nice guy. As you can also see, I went with the navy blue hat, which was kinda tight on my Barry Bondsesque head. And, yes, I'm blinking. I always blink in pictures.

I'm short. Shorter than P.J. Hill even! Also that picture of P.J. Hill is factually inaccurate because he's not wearing his cool retro socks. I love those. (Uni Watch nerd) You can also see that the Flyer Faithful shirt also won in the voting. It was under my cool new Blue Jackets spring coat. (I love losing teams!)

The Flyers take the court. I would love to just have the "D" flag. I find that to be awesome.

Jimmy Binnie grabs the ball after the Flyers win the opening tip. It was the only non-awful thing he did all game.

UD led at halftime after a spirited first half. This is the last photo I took. Nothing worth watching happened in the second.

So that brings me back to the game itself. What can be said? I was angry at first, but I'm OK now. It doesn't change the fact that Gregory needs to go, but I'm over it. Basically everything I thought would happen did:
• UD would play well at first.
• The crowd would be great.
• Gregory would get outcoached.
• Koufos would run wild.

Finally, here are a couple of things I noticed that just drove me insane. I took a shuttle bus from the Buckeye Hall of Fame Cafe to and from Value City Arena, and on the way home I think I spoke for 15 minutes with an older couple of UD alumni and the same things bothered them and I:
• Why does this team always seem to come out flat after the first half? I know Ohio State made adjustments, but why doesn't UD ever make adjustments. The Flyers beat Illinois State in the second half earlier this week not because of halftime adjustments, but because the Redbirds couldn't hit the side of a barn.
• To Kurt Huelsman: Please get tougher. I'm just so tired of watching you go up to the basket like you're afraid of contact. That basically goes for all the forwards not named Charles Little, Marcus Johnson or Chris Wright.
• To London Warren: Learn how to play the point or learn how to shoot. If you can't do either, sit down. That's all.
• And finally, this bothered me most of all. With the game in hand, and Thad Matta ready to take out his seniors for the last time with under a minute left, Brian Gregory quickly pulls out his seniors at the same time. That's just dumb. Let OSU's seniors be honored by their fans, and then at the next stoppage, take Roberts out so the thousands of UD fans who made it to the game could properly say goodbye. It just really bothered me. Gregory couldn't even do that right, couldn't even let the fans give a proper goodbye.

I guess overall it was a fitted end to one of the most disappointing seasons of UD basketball I can remember.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The End


It looked promising for a while, but even when things were going their way in the first half, the Flyers never built a lead. When things started going Ohio State's way, the Buckeyes did build a lead.

Ohio State made nine of its first 12 shots in the second half and never really cooled down, shooting 60 percent from the field after halftime. Their defense, which looked occasionally lost in the first half, was significantly better after the break. A couple of times, it looked like the Flyers might make a run, but something always seemed to go wrong.

But I can't really find much fault in what the Flyers did. Their effort was there, and aside from a sluggish start to the second half, the intensity level was there, too. They just got beat, pure and simple. Ohio State fixed its defense and rebounding issues in the second half, and shot lights out on top of that. There didn't seem to be a whole lot that Dayton could do.

And so that's that. It doesn't feel like the season just ended. For all the frustration and the ups and downs, it was a fun year, not to mention a fun NIT run, and I'm sad to see it come to an end. I guess that's the feeling you get when seasons end, but damn, we haven't gone more than a week without Dayton basketball since October, and just like that we're done.

A few more notes. I'll keep them brief since we'll probably get some eyewitness reports from our people on the scene.

  • I don't really want to talk about how this was Brian Roberts' last game in a Dayton uniform, so we'll save that for another post later this week or next. I will say that Roberts moved into fourth on the all-time scoring list with his 20-point performance tonight. Congratulations, Brian.
  • Chris Wright looked a little rusty in spots -- dropping the ball out of bounds and traveling when he went to make a move -- but he still brought a lot to the table. He ended up as the Flyers' second-leading scorer with 12 points. If he wasn't there tonight, the Flyers probably lose by 20.
  • The Brian Roberts-Andres Sandoval-Marcus Johnson-Charles Little-Chris Wright lineup that played late in the first half may be the most athletic lineup the University of Dayton has ever put on the floor.
  • In case you missed it in the game thread, Kurt Huelsman's new nickname is "Johnny on a Pony."

Dayton vs. Ohio State Open Thread



Let's get there.

So We Meet Again, Matta



I'll be honest, Thaddeus. I'm glad we're official enemies again. With you off in Buckeye Land and doing things like beating Xavier last year, it almost seemed like the hate was fading. But once I see you argue a call tonight or make a face like the one above, all those feelings will come rushing back.

When I saw the NIT pairings and saw that Ohio State had stolen UD's No. 1 seed, I was hoping we'd get this match-up. Really, it's about as good a match-up as you could hope for in the NIT. Small private school going up against the gigantic state school. Teams that could be rivals if they actually played each other finally playing each other. A trip to Madison Square Garden on the line. The first chance since non-conference play for the Flyers to knock off a power-conference team. And, of course, Thad Matta. It's all pretty fantastic, and I get the feeling we're all legitimately looking forward to it.

On paper, the teams look pretty evenly matched. From watching the Buckeyes a few times on TV, they always seemed like a solid team, but one that could never quite get over the hump. That must have been especially frustrating, considering where the Buckeyes were this time last year. But when you lose two lottery picks, that's what happens.

Ohio State could present a tough match-up inside. Othello Hunter is a true power-forward type, the kind that could give our non-power forward types some trouble. And Kosta Koufos, while a few inches taller than Kurt Huelsman, is also more athletic.

In the backcourt, Brian Roberts will go toe-to-toe with Jamar Butler. Like Roberts, Butler shoulders the scoring load for his team. He averages 14.9 per game but isn't quite as efficient as Roberts, especially from behind the arc, where he's taken 245 shots. I guess he's allowed to do that, though, since he's the school's all time leader in three-point field goals.

The wild card for the Flyers is Chris Wright. I haven't heard anything about how he was feeling after his 10 minutes of action Monday, but hopefully he's ready for more tonight. Twenty solid minutes from Wright -- regardless of how many points he scores -- would give the Flyers a significantly better chance to win this game.

It sounds like PB&aB will be well-represented at the game tonight, so hopefully we'll get plenty of first-hand accounts in the days to come. I'll be watching on TV, and searching for more ridiculous Thad Matta pictures.


EDIT (by Uncreative Commuter): Matta photos?! You want ridiculous Matta photos?! I got yer Matta photos right here:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Who Has Two Thumbs...

...and two tickets to Wednesday's UD-Ohio State game? This hypocrite!

Yeah, I said I wouldn't be that interested in the NIT, but if the Flyers are playing a few minutes from my place I have to go. As you can tell from the picture, I got good seats (I think). Honestly, I've only been in the Schott twice – once to cover an OSU hockey game vs. Notre Dame and the other time to watch the hockey Buckeyes lose to Western Michigan. This is the first time I'll be at Value City Arena for basketball.

So I guess I'm going to out myself, but oh well. My name is Matt Hager and I graduated from UD in 2004, and like many of the rest of the PB&B All-Stars, I used to work for Flyer News and now I'm in the media. Actually, Ohio State athletics butter by bread. I work for a company that puts together newspapers/magazines on Ohio State sports and the Cincinnati Reds, which is perfect for me because I grew up in East Dayton on OSU football and Reds baseball. I don't really write much anymore, but I am a page designer.

I was offered one of our press passes to cover Wednesday's game, but I turned it down. I would like to think that I'm a sensible fan – for everything but UD basketball. I get into it, I get mad, I get really happy and really frustrated quickly. I know on press row is not where I belong for this game. I could probably handle being there as a media member, but this time I probably shouldn't. This game, surpringly enough, actually means something. It's UD's chance to get back some of its mojo lost in the second half of the season. With a win over the Buckeyes, the Flyers will be back on the national scene, albeit with a NIT semifinal berth. I'll take what I can get after how bad things were just a month or two ago.

So, in sticking how I'm crazy, I need to pick what to wear. I'm a big Uni Watch fan and I'm also very supersticious, so I'm asking for help:

Hats:Here are my three UD hats. All have good chi and bad chi. The navy blue hat on the far left is my newest one and I like it a lot. But it's also a little tight. The middle one is my first UD hat, which I bought on the second day of my freshman year. It's been through a lot, doesn't fit that well, but it's seen good times. Finally, on the right is my fitted red hat. It fits the best, and I wear it the most, but everyone at the game is going to be wearing red. Maybe I should wear a blue hat?

Shirts:Here are by five best UD shirts:
• The Marian Blue one I love, but I don't think I can wear it. I bought it when I last visited UD – just before the "meltdown." It doesn't have good chi. The first time I wore it for a UD game was at a Columbus alumni viewing party of the first Xavier game.
• The faded Flyers Basketball shirt is one of my oldest and it looks like it. It, like my faded blue UD hat, has a lot of good times, but it's also not in the best shape. I think there's a hole somewhere on it. And it's dirty anyway.
• The blue Flyers shirt is nice and has a little UD logo on the arm, but it doesn't fit me that well. It's not in heavy UD Gameday rotation.
• The Brian Roberts jersey shirt is another of my favorites. I bought it after UD's win over Akron this season – the only UD game I've actually attended this year. It does not appear to bring good luck. I wore that for the second and third Xavier games, as well as during a few other losses during the meltdown.
• Finally, I've had the Flyer Faithful shirt for a while, but it's not one of my favorites. It's kind of plain. I can't say I wear it a lot, but I do know I wore it a few times when they were still ranked.

So let me know what you all think in the comments. Whatever you guys pick I'll wear tomorrow. I'll take pictures of my time at the game tomorrow too.

Monday, March 24, 2008

We Missed You


Ten minutes. Nine points. Three rebounds. A completely un-Flyer-like five of six free throws. And a victory on the road against a team that had NCAA Tournament hopes.

With that, Chris Wright reminded us -- as if we ever could have forgotten -- exactly what we've been missing the last three months.

We've been missing him.

I'll be honest. At points during the collapse, I wondered if Wright could really make that much of a difference. I wasn't able to watch the game tonight, but from what I can gather, the answer is yes, Chris Wright would have made that much of a difference. This team just needed one more piece, and he was the perfect piece.

But we're moving on from all that, so no sense crying over what could have been. Wright is back now, just in time for the Flyers to put together a little run.

When I saw on the DDN's web site this afternoon that Wright would play tonight, I was a little unsure of things, what with the whole why risk it just for the NIT argument. But the Flyers clearly do care about making a run in the NIT, and if Wright can help without really risking much, then I'm all for it. Clearly, they're being careful with him, which is good to see. But even in limited minutes, he gives this team something it's been sorely lacking.

So now the Flyers move on, and assuming Wright's foot doesn't hurt after this, they're moving on as a team that's much closer to what we all thought they would be.

And we're headed for a pretty nice little match-up, one that will finally get UD off ESPNU. The Flyers will visit Ohio State Wednesday night, either at 7 p.m. or 9 p.m. for a game on ESPN2. A win Wednesday night, and the Flyers are off to Madison Square Garden, which, all in all, isn't a bad place to be.

Friday, March 21, 2008

I'm Bored

Has anyone else noticed that at the top of this page, where it says "where we still believe Sammy Smith", it actually looks like it says the word "whore"?

Clearly this is just because of the background photo selected, but I just noticed that.

That's all I have. Well, that and that I need a life.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Greatest Day of the Year

Flyers Hit The Road

Seven-seed Utah State played a terrible last five minutes and lost to the two-seed Illinois State, 61-57. That means that the Flyers will hit the road on Monday to play a game at Redbird Arena.

The Redbirds looked really good at times tonight, playing tenacious defense and collecting steals and blocks in the second half. They look like one of those teams that's going to be really irritating to play... especially if I have to hear the commentators refer to mohawk-sporting guard Osiris Eldgridge as "The O-Hawk" one more time.

I'll give one comment about tonight's Flyers game, so as not to take away from Stonemill's expert analysis. Like him, I hoped for Marcus Johnson to show me some more of the game he displayed in the Flyers' two A-10 tourney games. It wasn't quite the same but he did have flashes of brilliance that indicate he could fit nicely into the role of team leader after the departure of Roberts. There was a great little fade away jumper that, had it not been for the headband, I would have sworn up and down was shot by Brian Roberts. It was that kind of cool shot that we have come to expect from Roberts and noone else on the team. Johnson should give us one hell of a performance next season.

We're still waiting on a game time for Monday. See you then.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Dayton 66, Cleveland State 57

The Flyers put it on cruise control a little bit early but managed to withstand a late charge by the Vikings to win their NIT opener tonight at UD Arena.

Brian Roberts had 21 points to lead the Flyers despite being limited to six points in the second half thanks to a box-and-one. With that as the bakdrop, Dayton could do nothing at the offensive end in the final five minutes of the second half. I'm not sure if it was by design or by accident, but the Flyers kept taking the shot clock down to single digits before hoisting up a questionable shot. London Warren even took a three at one point. It wasn't pretty, but thankfully, it happened late enough and the lead was big enough that the Flyers stayed in front.

In addition to Roberts, three other players were in double digits. Kurt Huelsman had a solid game with 12 points and seven rebounds, while Marcus Johnson and Andres Sandoval each scored 11. Honestly, I was hoping for a little from Marcus after his A-10 tourney explosion, but even without the big points, he played nearly the entire game and pulled down six rebounds. I thought going into the NIT that one of the big reasons to be excited was to see Marcus continue his emergence as he gets set to take the torch from Brian Roberts. Hopefully, we'll have a few more games to see the process continue.

Also of note:

  • The first half was vintage Brian Roberts. A few step-back threes, a few pretty drives, and of course, a perfectly efficient effort -- 5-of-6 from the field, 3-of-4 from behind the arc and 2-of-2 from the free-throw line. We're rooting for Illinois State to lose tonight so the Flyers and Roberts can get another home game, but if this was BRob's final time at UD Arena, it wasn't a bad way to go out.
  • The next game is going to be on Monday, but the time hasn't been set yet. I imagine it hinges on who wins the game going on right now between Utah St. and Illinois St.
  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe this is Brian Gregory's first postseason victory, not counting the A-10 tournament. I guess he's only had two chances, so one out of two ain't bad. Other things about that statistic, namely the whole "only had two chances" part are, in fact, bad.
  • The box score lists the attendance at 7,012. That's not so good. The play-in game drew 8,464. People at UDPride seem to think it was a combination of the early start time and bad weather. Also, the NIT sucks, which may have had something to do with it.
  • Unrelated to the NIT, but be sure to check out this post on Deadspin. The fine gentlemen at Flyers Fieldhouse were dispatched to cover the play-in game and they turned in a top-notch product. Deadspin screwed the HTML up and has the entire thing as a link, but aside from that, top-notch.
  • And, finally, this from Tom Archdeacon: "Although some UD insiders have said [Wright] is done for the season, he may actually be close to returning to the court. In fact, before the game one UD administrator said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Wright get a little bit of playing time in the next game should the Flyers get by Cleveland State." I'm a little split on this. It's just the NIT, so why risk further injury by rushing Wright back? At the same time, if everybody thinks he's fine, I'd love to see him in uniform again.

Tourney Challenge Time!

So I sat there and thought to myself..hey why don't we have a Peanut Butter & A Blanket Tourney Challenge.

So you (all readers) are invited to join. Below is the link..sign up and good luck
http://pbflyers.mayhem.sportsline.com/ THe password is: sammy smith

Frequently Asked Questions about our Bracket Challenge

1) How do I Sign up?

A: Read above..cmon don't be a complete idiot

2) Do I Win Anything?

A: The obvious joke would be a spot as the game coach for the Dayton Flyers, but I won't go there. You win the love and adoration of all who read this blog

3) If I don't win anything, why should I even play?

A: Because Chuck Norris said so..so you better listen

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I'll give it a whirl...

If there's one thing I don't know, it's what the word dichotomy means. If there's two things in life I do know, it's unattractive women and bad analogies. Let's try to incorporate both of those into a blog post, shall we?

(Note: I'm also all too familiar with insane women. And when I say insane, I don't mean "weird" or "quirky" or "a little out there," I mean absolutely, certifiably, bat shit fucking crazy. But that story doesn't have a happy ending like this does might...)

Going to the NIT is like nailing an ugly girl. It's never anyone's goal at the beginning of a weekend (season). Ever hear one of your buddies say, "Hey guys, you know what I wanna do tonight? Go to the bar, knock back a few beers, and find some ugly ass chick. You know, a broad with a face so ugly a mother couldn't even love her. Yeah, her, and bring her home with me."? Similarly, you won't often hear a college basketball coach say, "We have really high hopes for this year's squad. I think we're gonna have a good season and, when you look at it, I really think our main objective is to play in the postseason NIT."

But sometimes in life, we are forced to settle. Lord knows I have ... Sometimes a team gets off to a hot start and just can't sustain it. Other teams are hit by the injury bug. Some underachieve. Still others play very well in a low major conference yet fail to win the conference tournament. Reasons abound for settling for an NIT bid, just as there are a number of reasons to bang an ugly chick. She didn't look that ugly after 14 beers. The hot chick you used up all your solid game on has a boyfriend. Maybe you just haven't gotten laid in a while and you're feeling a little desperate.

The point is that going to the NIT is never a best case scenario, but it usually beats the alternative. So tomorrow night, turn off all the lights (so you don't have to look at her grill), turn on ESPNU (if you even have it) and root like hell for the Flyers. Just try not to let your friends find out about it the next morning because, if they see her mug, they're never gonna let you hear the end of it.

Please join us next time for "The CBI and fucking a fat chick: two things that aren't even worth it." (Seriously though. Cincinnati vs. Bradley? Two teams with a combined record of 3 games UNDER .500! Rider-Old Dominion? You gotta be joking. At least you can close your eyes with an ugly chick who isn't fat. You can still feel fat; I don't care how dark it is or how drunk you are.)

KS

Monday, March 17, 2008

The NIT Dichotomy

I was trying to come up with something that could help define our current lot in life, but I kept talking myself into circles. I eventually realized that there are two polar opposites at play in this whole NIT endeavor and that they're very difficult to reconcile. So I gave up the reconciling and will instead present the opposites, themselves. I never liked reconciliation anyway. When I did my First Reconcilation, I made up my sin. It was easier.

The Bad Thing About the NIT

Everything that is pales in comparison to what could be.

Brian Gregory can talk all he wants about how the NIT is a different, more prestigious tournament now than it has been in past years, and the D-Team ESPN analyst on the Selection Show can talk about how it's a privilege to be invited. That's all well and good, and I don't necessarily disagree with any of that. The NIT is better now than it was a few years ago, and getting invited is a privilege. In and of itself, the NIT is great.

But the NIT is not an in-and-of-itself kind of thing.

For most of the teams in the field, it exists only as a reflection of the NCAA Tournament, and for that reason, it really sucks to be in it, even if it has its good qualities. I wish BG and people of his ilk would stop pretending otherwise.

The Good Thing About the NIT

The beuaty of a game is that in the heat of the moment, all the stuff I mentioned above really won't matter. The Flyers will play hard Wednesday night. I will watch them and I will probably find myself rooting hard. If it comes down to the wire, I will be on the edge of my seat. If the Flyers make it to New York and hoist a championship trophy, I will be pumped.

That's the nature of sports fandom. You cheer for your team, regardless of the circumstances. For most of us, that will take over and win out over the "wish we weren't here" sentiment.

In the end, victories may seem a little bit hollow, but that's just the way it goes. Getting the victories will still be fun.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

So Hard to Be Anything But Sad


The Flyers kind of got screwed by the NIT selection committee, if there even is such a thing, and ended up as a No. 3 seed. They'll host Cleveland State Wednesday night at 6 p.m. on ESPNU. If they win and No. 2 Illinois State wins, the Flyers are done with home games and will head to Illinois.

The four No. 1 seeds are Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Arizona State and Syracuse. Dayton has a better resume than each of those teams, but I don't think the NIT really cares about that. And lucky for them, nobody's going to get too upset about it because we don't really care either.

Three other A-10 teams are in the field: UMass as a No. 2, Rhode Island as a No. 6 and Charlotte as a No. 6.

Holding Out Hope? Or Giving Up?

As we are just over an hour from the NCAA Selection Show, do you have any hope for the Flyers to get in?

I guess I'm expecting them not to get in, but I keep coming back to the strong RPI as the Flyers only hope. In fact, if you look at all the so-called "bubble teams", UD had a better RPI than just about all of them. Then again, most of the other bubble teams finished above .500 in a top-6 conference, whereas UD finished in 7th place in the A-10.

There's really only one team that could get in that would drive me nuts if they made it over UD, and that team is Oregon. A quick comparison, with all information coming from kenpom.com:

UD
Overall Record: 21-10
Conference Record: 8-8
RPI: 32
SOS Rank: 34
Non-conf SOS: 29
Last 10: 5-5
vs. Top 100: 9-6
vs. 100+: 12-4

Oregon
Overall Record: 18-13
Conference Record: 9-9
RPI: 58
SOS Rank: 37
Non-conf SOS: 169
Last 10: 5-5
vs. Top 100: 8-11
vs. 100+: 10-2

As of this morning, ESPN.com Bubble Watch had Oregon in over UD. I disagree, and I think the numbers back me up. But we will wait and see what happens in about an hour.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Talk about a worst case scenario

Yesterday I was pondering how best the Atlantic 10 Tournament could shake out in the interests of the Flyers. What I came up with is pretty simple. Charlotte beats Temple, since the 49ers have absolutely no chance whatsoever for an at-large bid, and Xavier defeats St. Joe's. UD and SJU have similar resumes, but a loss last night meant the Hawks would have advanced only one round farther than the Flyers in this tournament. Plus, SJU would have lost to Xavier twice in the three meetings, and UD beat SJU a week ago by double digits in the head-to-head matchup.

Then Xavier beats Charlotte in the finals. This leaves Xavier as the only team definitely in the dance, with the committee left to decide between UMass, UD, and St. Joe's for at-large bids. They certainly would have taken one of these three and quite possibly two.

Instead, as you know, Temple won and the Hawks upended the Musketeers for the second time in ten days. St. Joe's effectively punched its ticket with that win, and now people are saying Temple has a stronger at-large case than the Flyers. I strongly disagree with this but it's out there. (Bracketology has UMass as the first team not in, Dayton in the first four out, and Temple in the next four out.)

In essence, Temple will need a win tonight, a minor miracle or an act of god (like a tornado at the SEC Tournament, perhaps?) to go dancing. The A10 is two-bid conference unless Temple wins in the finals, leaving the Flyers and the Minutemen on the outside looking in. Number one seed in the NIT here we come.

Side note 1: After the game last night, I asked Sean Miller if he was felt like he should be on the hot seat with that loss. Just kidding.

Side note 2: We have to check out of our hotel here pretty soon. How much money can I lose between check out time and the finals at 6 p.m. tonight? I'll bet it's a lot.

Atlantic City is a helluva lot of fun. It's easy to get drunk for cheap while you gamble; the tough part is minimizing gambling losses. I lost about $50 last night, so I'm down $20 overall. We'll see how we do this afternoon.

If the Flyers lose in the first round of the NIT, we gotta fire Brian Gregory. Actually we should fire him regardless but it isn't gonna happen. I think BG will coach us for TWO MORE years without an NCAA Tournament appearance before he gets the hook. Setting your program back 5-7 years = a great time for everyone.

Back in Cincinnati tomorrow afternoon. Anybody know what time the NIT Selection Show is?

KS

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday in Atlantic City

I started to leave a really long note in response to the comments on the last post; instead, I decided to put them in a new post for your enjoyment.

1) Thanks to Frank Iguodala Lives! and Ray and Rev (and all of you guys) for the props. You get that a good journalist should not shy away from the tough questions. Mike Hartsock and whoever covers this team for the DDN can stroke Brian Gregory all they want. That shit ain't for me.

2) As far as BG's reaction goes, I don't think he should be ripped or heavily criticized for it. The biggest problem I have with my questions is the timing of them. Brian Gregory is not a stupid man. He knows that game was basically the difference between Dayton being in and out of the NCAA Tournament. To ask him the questions I did not even 20 minutes after losing that game is pretty tough. Did he handle it perfectly or as well as he possibly could have? Not at all. But, under the circumstances, it wasn't all that bad. I just wish he would have gone on a Mike Gundy-like tirade. I'd be a youtube phenomenon.

3) Thanks to T-Freck for defending my honor and explaining my job situation. As far as media credentials go, am I as qualified as most of the guys in that room? Probably not. Am I undeserving? Absolutely not.

BUT I've done live reports for a Cincy radio station the past two days. The A10 can accept or reject anyone's credential request. If I said I was coming to write for this blog, they'd probably reject me. They accepted it and, quite frankly, that's not something Gregory should have been concerned about. As I said at the time, "what's it matter?"

Note: I'm taking vacation days to go on this trip, so my primary concerns are watching college hoops, gambling and getting bombed in Atlantic City. That's why it's easier for me to ask a controversial question -- no fear of repercussions -- than the usual A10 media folks. Also, my job is far from kickass, but it does have some perks. Watching the A10 Tournament courtside and getting the opportunity to get under Brian Gregory's skin after a game are two of them.

Gambling Update
I started out hot, winning $13 playing poker and $45 playing roulette last night. I gave some of that back at the roulette wheel this afternoon but rebounded at the poker tables with another winning session. For the day, I'm down $28; for the trip, I'm still up $30. Breaking even for the trip is the ultimate goal.

My friend Bart had a huge win at the poker tables today ($104) but is still down a little for the trip. My buddy Ryan is an enigma, so I'm not sure how he's doing. Frecker is here too and is down about 30 bucks. My brother Rob won't say how much he is down ... which means A LOT.

I'm planning on trying out some craps after the games tonight, but drunken roulette is also an appealing option.

KS

More on BG

I was just going to publish this as a comment to the last post, but this is so strong that it needed it's own recognition.

http://www.daytondailynews.com/s/content/oh/story/sports/college/ud/2008/03/14/ddn031408arch.html

The above article is a commentary by Tom Archdeacon, a well-respected Dayton Daily News writer. He picks up on the exchange between Brian Gregory and "a young radio guy from Cincinnati", and elaborates on it.

I encourage you to read the entire article, and comment below. There is a defense in it of both Brian Gregory (RPI 29, 21-10 season) and of the "radio guy" (and I quote...."But the radio guy's question wasn't totally off base. After all, Athletic Director Ted Kissell has told fans the program's expected performance standard wasn't just to make the NCAA tournament, but to advance in it.).

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thursday in Atlantic City aka Brian Gregory hates me

So the charging call on London Warren was bullshit. Duncan was right underneath the basket, and you should not be able to take a charge from that position on the floor. If the A10 refs don't blow that one, we're up 48-46 and at the line with a chance to increased the lead to three. Instead, X goes on an 8-0 run to go up 54-46. I, for one, felt like we were never in it after that.

But, after the game, I was not in the mood to blame the refs. I was not in a mood to simply chalk it up to Xavier being a little better team than the Flyers. Instead, I was looking for answers and for people to blame...

Fast forward to the postgame press conference where I asked Brian Roberts about the team's inability to make free throws in clutch moments. I would have been fine, except I used the phrase "lack of mental toughness" when forming my inquiry. This was phase one of me getting on Brian Gregory's shit list.

Phase two was for more bold and more blunt. I said, and I'm paraphrasing here, "Coach, your tournament fate is still up in the air. If you don't make the NCAA Tournament -- combined with not making the postseason at all the last three seasons -- do you feel any added pressure as the head coach?"

Gregory: No.

Me: So you're not on the hot seat, so to speak?

Gregory: No. [awkward pause as he stared me down. BG turns to A10 media lackey and says] Where is he from? Where is this guy from?

Try and get me kicked out, BG. I'd like that. If you can't answer tough questions, then you ought not orchestrate the biggest single season collapse in Dayton Flyers basketball history. Then I'll float some beach balls up to the podium for you. Until then, give me the death stare. I ain't afraid.

Anyway ... I also asked a sort of dick question to Stanley Burrell in their postgame presser, but he took it in stride. It was in reference to the comments he made on Monday. He actually said he regretted calling out other A10 players by name (Dunston and Harris, I believe). He said he was frustrated and was just sticking up for his teammates -- which I begrudgingly respect. At least he didn't duck the question or give me a one-word answer. He said if he had to do it all over again, he wouldn't have mentioned any individuals by name.

On a lighter note, I'm up $13 playing limit Texas Hold 'Em. We're skipping the Temple-La Salle snoozer and headed back to Boardwalk Hall for the UMass-Charlotte game. Gambling updates forthcoming tomorrow.

KS

Bucky Was Right

He didn't really know what he was saying, but he was right.

Late in the second half, after Larry said St. Louis had come back from a similar deficit against Dayton the day before with the same amount of time on the clock, Bucky responded.

"Yeah, but, this team's a lot better than St. Louis," he said. What he meant to say was "This team's a lot better than the one St. Louis came back against."

Which is to say, Xavier's a lot better than Dayton.

That point was hammered home again today. The Flyers played a pretty solid all-around game and had their chances, but Xavier was in complete control. That's one of the reasons the Musketeers are so good. It's their game and if you don't take advantage of the few times they leave the door ajar, you're probably not going to win.

And the Flyers did not take advantage. Things were looking up in the second half until the charging call on London Warren negated a bucket that would have put UD up by four. After that Xavier went on a 10-0 run. UD still had a chance to weather the storm, but surprise, surprise, the Flyers missed five of six free-throws in a crucial two-minute stretch. From there, Xavier held off every charge and held on for the victory.

Marcus Johnson had himself a hell of a game to cap off a hell of a tournament. He led all scorers with 26 points, a performance that certainly sets the stage for him to step into a huge role next year.

For now, I guess we wait. Selection Sunday will probably come and go without a mention of the Flyers, but I will still be hoping.

Meh

The last time UD lost to Xavier, I had a pretty angry post about Brian Gregory. I'm not as mad this time. I fully expected UD to lose today.

I'm just sad and disappointed. I'm not sure what is depressing me more:
• The fact that UD has lost to Xavier three times in one year for the second straight year.
• The fact that UD was at one time 14-1 and ranked in the top 15 in the country.
• The fact that UD beat Louisville on the road and Pittsburgh at home and now they're relegated to the NIT.
• The fact that the NIT does not excite me in the least, nor will it probably excite the Flyers. That means a likely early exit.
• The fact that this is probably as close to the NCAA Tournament as a Brian Gregory-led team is going to get.

Actually, all of those things depress me. My coworkers have tried to be supportive and talk about how baseball season will soon be starting. Then I remembered I'm a Reds fan and Dusty Baker is their manager.

Now I'm really depressed.

Dayton-Xavier Open Thread


I don't know if the Hoosiers photo is truly a good luck charm, since the Flyers played poorly yesterday under its watch, but they did win, so we'll go with it. And it does seem appropriate. If Ollie the team manager can make free throws, Dayton can too.

It's going to take a lot to beat Xavier, probably our best game of the year. That may not seem likely after yesterday, but the beauty of basketball in March is that strange things happen. So get excited, people. Whether you're feeling a sense of impending doom or not, this is what it's all about.

By the way, the game is on the schedule at channelsurfing.net.

Go Flyers.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Your Motivational Moment for Tomorrow

Since Matt Foley is not around to inspire the Flyers, how about Steve Perry?





..Don't Stop Believing..make those free throws and Beat Xavier!

Thankfully, this photo is just funny


It could have been poignant and symbolic in a "Brian Gregory watches in horror as the season slips out of his hands" kind of way, but thanks to Marcus Johnson, the Flyers survived today against St. Louis.

From the occasional refresh (that also occasionally went backwards) on ESPN's score page, it seemed pretty enough, but I gather that it was not. ESPN actually thought we won in regulation for quite some time until finally acknolwedging that the game did, in fact, go to overtime.

Johnson shined in the extra period, scoring all eight of the Flyers' points, including the bucket that proved to be the game-winner. That made up for another terrible day at the free-throw line, where the Flyers made four of 12.

Ugly or not, the name of the game in March is survive and advance, even if it looks like a stay of execution. And so we advance. Look out, Xavier. We were joking when we said we thought we were playing our best basketball, but we're coming for you anyway.

St. Louis Open Thread


I watched Hoosiers the other night. I'm really in the mood for a tourney run. Let's do this. Discuss the proceedings in the comments section, if you like.


Tip Off in T-minus 4 hours and 10 minutes

Are you nervous yet?

I'm not, because somebody that apparently has no regard for my love of Dayton Flyers basketball has scheduled a very important meeting at noon today. And when I say very important, I mean I'll be in the meeting for at least an hour, maybe two. So while the rest of you are desperately rooting on the Flyers to victory, and checking your computer every few minutes for score updates, I'll be sitting there hoping that I'll have an opportunity to catch the final few minutes of Larry and Bucky calling the action.

Stupid Meetings.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Gotta Win Four

I'm not sure what happened. Somewhere, somehow UD basketball fans went from furious to despondent to apathetic and back to hopeful in about a ten-day span.

Actually, I suppose I know exactly what happened. The Flyers went from 5-8 in Atlantic 10 play and teetering on the brink of ... disaster? doom? the College Basketball Invitational? ... to 8-8 in the conference, a three game winning streak, and firmly back in the conversation for NCAA at-large bid. I hate to say it, Flyers fans, but you're getting your hopes up for something that isn't coming.

Go ahead and call me names. Wet Blanket. Buzzkill. Abject Failure (lay off, Dad, nobody asked your opinion).

Sorry fellas, but it just isn't happening. You can't go .500 and tie for seventh place in the seventh best conference in the country and expect to get an at-large. I know the A10 is up this year; I know the non-conference resume is damned impressive; I know the RPI and SOS and record vs. the top 100 are all strong. But I also know the A10 isn't the Big East or the Pac 10. In those conferences, it's okay to go .500. It's cool to stumble on the road against a lesser team or two. Hell, it's even expected and can be done with limited negative consequences. That's not the case in the Atlantic 10.

So conventional wisdom in the past few days has become, "Beat St. Louis and Xavier and they're in." Some have even said that a win over SLU is enough to go dancing. (I call those people clinically insane.) And Buzzkill is here to tell you that conventional wisdom is wrong. I could get into all the different reasons and scenarios and bubble teams and conference champs until we're blue in the face ... Kentucky and Ohio State are in over the Flyers. South motherfucking Alabama is now going to get an at-large. Three teams from the WCC for cripe's sake! As a comment on the other post said, Monday was not a good day for the bubble teams.

Long story short, it just ain't happening. This team is not going to the NCAA Tournament without an automatic bid. And that's a harsh reality if only because the Flyers have no one to blame but themselves. We've covered it ad naseum at this point. Win the games you should've won (even without Wright) and you'd be comfortably in. Instead, it's all or nothing in Atlantic City.

It's gonna take four wins in four days. It's not likely but it's not impossible either. Like I posted before, I'm hoping they can just get that first one. We'll check in from AC tomorrow night or first thing Thursday morning -- hopefully to preview a Dayton-xavier matchup.

KS

Monday, March 10, 2008

Stanley's Gettin' Upset!

Stanley Burrell, he of the "You get the award, you take the award, we don't care. We're more about winning championships as a team, and we'll get it done" comments after the Dayton-Xavier game has apparently decided he does care.

When it was revealed that Xavier had nobody on the all-conference first team, Stanley, who was a third-team pick and also the Defensive Player of the Year, decided to put on his parachute pants and hop up on his soapbox. Hilarity ensued.

"I've never been so upset. You'd think after getting the awards I got, I'd be happy right now. I'm really upset about how things turned out. I called this after the Dayton game, and no disrespect to Brian Roberts, but I said things like this are going to happen; we're going to be left out. I've got champions in that locker room. B.J., C.J., Derrick. Those guys shouldn't have been left out like that. No way. Those guys are champs. Where would we be without them. I'm so upset."

"It's ridiculous. This league is pathetic. We went 14-2, top 10 in the nation. Forget first team, Josh is probably the player of the year. You've got the best team and nobody on the first-team all-conference team? It's ridiculous. You talk about not having motivation? We got plenty now. I'm really looking forward to Atlantic City now."

"I should be happy right now. I got a good award and that's great. But my teammates got left out. No way. I'm the leader of this team, and I'm not going to sit here and say it's OK. I know how I'd feel if I got left out like that if I gave for the good of the team; if I sacrificed and was all about doing what's best for the team. I'm so upset, so upset."

"You see the teams and you're like, put B.J. in place of a Darnell Harris or somebody who went .500 or below. Put Derrick in place of a Bryant Dunston. You don't leave C.J. out. You don't leave guys out who just won a championship. Those guys could easily go to other teams and easily be getting 14, 15, 16 points a game. They decided to be here and play team ball. And they get left out for that? For being unselfish? It's not right, man. I don't care what I got. That Defensive Player of the Year? That's my team's award."

"I can't believe my team got left out like that. I'm happy for Coach; hell, he should have been Coach of the Year last year too. We won the league last year too. It's ridiculous. I'm sick of people overlooking us. I'm sick of us being labeled as a mid-major; we don't get no respect, man. And we're going to keep winning. We're going to stay together and keep doing what we do. We're going to stay focused, and we're not going to let people take us off our path. I feel bad for my teammate [nudging Raymond who was sitting next to him] because he deserved it. He bought out this year. He deserved to be recognized for his play this year. Where would we be without B.J.? Where would we be without C.J.? Where would we be without Derrick? Thost guys should be recognized, and I'm trying to hold myself together, but I love those guys to death. They did everything for us this year. They sacrificed like crazy. And they don't get nothing to show for it. I don't even want to answer no questions, man."

I begrudgingly admire your passion, Stanley, but this all seems ridiculous to me. Everyone on your team averages like six points a game, so really, what did you expect? C.J. and Derrick on the first team because they're "champions?"

I considered myself a champion, too, back when I played sixth-grade basketball. I sucked and occasionally made baskets in the other team's hoop, but I was a team player. Nobody voted me to the Catholic Schools Athletic Association All-C2 team. Should I be pissed? Yes?

Fine.

Fuck you, Mr. Riney, for leaving me off the all-conference team.

I'm so upset, so upset.

Wright to at least dress

Coach Gregory announced today that Chris Wright will at least be dressing for the A-10 Tournament and his availability will be determined as the week progresses. Personally I think the Flyers NCAA Tournament hopes will come down to Wright's availability against Xavier. If he can play UD has more than a fighting chance against those fucking musketeers. Without him they have been playing better but I worry that Xavier will be too much. Here's hoping that Wright finds a way to play.

Time to Overreact

This is an outrage! Oh, the humanity!

Meh, that's about all the overreaction I can muster to Brian Roberts NOT being named Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. The award instead went to Gary Forbes of UMass. I have no doubt B-Rob is more valuable to his team than is Forbes; however, it's called the player of the year, not the MVP. Forbes' raw numbers look more impressive than Roberts' and that's probably all it took. Forbes averaged 20.3 and 7.7 per and racked up nine double-doubles this season.

What we should really be pissed about is all the awards Xavier received. Sean Miller was named A10 Coach of the Year, Josh Duncan Sixth Man of the Year and Stanley Burrell Defensive Player of the Year. Not that these accolades aren't warranted, I'm just opposed to any person affiliated with Xavier being honored in any way.

Chris Wright was named to the A10 All-Rookie Team after playing exactly eight minutes of basketball in Atlantic 10 play. Now that's impressive. Guess that's what happens when you're Basketball's Second Coming.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Game Times

Here's the schedule for the A-10 tourney. Looks like we're in for a little pretending to work, but really keeping tabs on the game scenario, which is really the best part of March anyway. Plan accordingly.

Wednesday, March 12
Game 1 - #8 Dayton vs. #9 Saint Louis - 12:00
Game 2 - #5 Saint Joseph's vs. #12 Fordham - 2:30
Game 3 - #7 La Salle vs. #10 Duquesne - 6:30
Game 4 - #6 Charlotte vs. #11 Rhode Island - 9:00

Thursday, March 13
Game 5 - #1 Xavier vs. #8/#9 winner - 12:00 (CSTVR)
Game 6 - #4 Richmond vs. #5/#12 winner - 2:30 (CSTVR)
Game 7 - #2 Temple vs. #7/#10 winner - 6:30 (CSTVR)
Game 8 - #3 Massachusetts vs. #6/#11 winner - 9:00 (CSTVR)

Friday, March 14
Game 9 - Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner - 6:30 (CSTVR)
Game 10 - Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner - 9:00 (CSTVR)

Saturday, March 15
Finals - 6:00 (ESPN)

We Be Bloggin'

Remember this post? The one where I turned into a whiny little bitch, refused to make the drive up I-75 to watch the UD-Xavier game, and wrote: "I'm just not up for watching the team I hate probably more than any other in all of sports beat us again." Yeah, that post.

Well the basketball gods (or Linda Bruno, or that blue blob thing that is Xavier's second mascot, or whomever else I can blame) have conspired against me. You see, on Wednesday I'm headed to Atlantic City, New Jersey (I hear it's beautiful this time of year, by the way) to take in the sights and sounds of the Atlantic 10 men's basketball tournament. On Thursday I will -- presumably -- watch the Dayton Flyers take on the Xavier Musketeers in the third meeting between the two teams this season. I can already feel my stomach churning.

The good news is that I'll be at the tournament and will provide all kinds of coverage for this here blog. Expect multiple posts each day with the goings on from behind the scenes. I especially can't wait to ask Brian Gregory if he thinks he's on the hot seat. And I might even try a live blog of Thursday's game between Temple and the La Salle/Duquesne winner. Should be a thriller.

The inspiration of this trip was borne out of a 14-1 start and a #14 ranking in the AP Poll. When Brian Roberts was making a splash on the national scene with a 28-point performance and an almost single-handed defeat of Louisville, I was sitting in the Louisville students' section. I was wearing a Flyers hoodie and my friend Bart a white #2 Dayton jersey. Never did an article of clothing seem more fitting. Three weeks later, the Flyers beat the living tar out of a pretty darn good Pitt Panthers team and B-Rob poured in 31. This time, I was in UD's students' section -- which is pretty lame, considering I'd graduated two years before but seemed acceptable on a night like that one.

Shortly thereafter, the plan was conceived. A mid-March vacation to the AC. It did, after all, have everything you could want in a vacation destination: gambling, booze and Dayton Flyers basketball. Surely, our beloved Flyers would cruise to a top four spot in the A10 regular season, securing a first round bye in the tournament. Thus, there was no need to arrive on Wednesday ... the plan was too brilliant not to work.

The bad news is what happened next. The injuries, the losses, the collapse. All that leaves us where we are now: a .500 record in conference play and a #8 seed in the A10 tourney. Not only will the Flyers play a Wednesday game, but they have the misfortunte of drawing a second round match-up with the hated Musketeers. In theory, Dayton could be eliminated from the tournament while I am in transit to Atlantic City. So, while I really can't bare the thought of losing a third time to Xavier this year (and six times in the past two seasons), I'd at least like to see that game take place. Losing to St. Louis would arguably be even more devastating. Plus, it'd make driving 11 hours NOT to watch UD play seem pretty silly on my part.

In reality, this is Rhode Island's fault. Last night, the Rams completed a collapse even more spectactular than that of the Flyers (which, a week ago, seemed impossible) by losing to Charlotte. Had URI won, Dayton would be seeded seventh, a position in which it could have done some serious damage. Instead, we're left knowing the Flyers absolutely have to defeat their nemesis. Their arch rival. The team that we as fans hate more than any other. And that's just to be considered for an at-large bid on Selection Sunday.

But blaming Rhode Island is to lose sight of the bigger picture. A picture that shows losses to Richmond, George Washington, Duquesne, and La Salle when winning just two of those games would have the Flyers as a virtual lock to make the NCAA Tournament. Hell, maybe winning just one of those four would put UD on the good side of the bubble. Instead, Dayton fights for its tournament life with each game. At least I'll be there to see the fight first hand.

-KS

Saturday, March 8, 2008

A-10 Seeding

...it all comes down to the Charlotte vs. Rhode Island game tonight for Dayton.

If URI wins, Rhode Island gets the 6 seed, Dayton is 7th, Charlotte is 8th, and LaSalle is 9th.

If Charlotte wins, Charlotte is the 6, LaSalle is the 7th, UD is the 8th.

The 7 seed would be much better to avoid Xavier until the finals. The blank bracket...

http://atlantic10.cstv.com/auto_pdf/p_hotos/s_chools/atl10/sports/m-baskbl/auto_pdf/2008-MBB-Bracket


Here are the final standings, taken directly from the new bracket posted at the A-10 conference website:

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

The matchups

#1 Xavier - first round bye, they get the winner of....
#8 Dayton vs. # 9 St. Louis

# 4 Richmond - first round bye, they get the winner of....
# 5 St. Joseph vs. # 12 Fordham

# 2 Temple - first round bye, they get the winner of....
# 7 LaSalle vs. # 10 Duquesne

#3 UMass - first round bye, they get the winner of....
# 6 Charlotte vs. # 11 Rhode Island

Certainly not what UD fans were hoping for, a potential second round matchup with Xavier. Oh well, let's get by SLU first, and see what happens.

Dayton 79, St. Joseph's 67

Well that was pretty nice.

The Flyers got their best win since early January today and in the process, gave themselves a 20-win season, a three-game winning streak and a high note for their seniors to go out on.

From what Larry and Bucky tell me, the first half was about as good a half as the Flyers have played in a long time. They came out with energy, hit their shots, played some defense and generally grabbed control against a St. Joe's team that may have been fighting a little fatigue. The second half was a little so-so, but the Flyers kept hitting big shots and answering every time the Hawks made a push.

In the end, the lead was big enough for every senior to step off the floor to his own standing ovation, which is always nice. Andres Sandoval's came a little early, because he fouled out, but even that was fitting. He finished with 12 points, as did Jimmy Binnie, who delivered some crucial shots to help set the tone in the first half. Brian Roberts, who finished with 15 after a big first half, left in the final seconds to the loudest ovation of all. He may not have led the Flyers in scoring today (Marcus Johnson had 17), but it sounded like Roberts truly set the tone in the first half with the kind of this-is-my-game mentality that carried the Flyers in big wins earlier this season.

In all, it was a pretty big win, for a number of reasons:

• Twenty wins, 8-8 in conference. Both of those were magic numbers for the Flyers to have any chance for an at-large bid. It’s still contingent on making a tourney run, but this at least sets the stage.

• This may not matter much in the end, because so much will be decided by the A-10 tourney, but the Flyers did just beat a team that was in front of them on the A-10 at-large bid pecking order.

• The Flyers have now won three games in a row, so they’ve picked up momentum at the right time. I imagine they feel as good as they’ve felt since January, when they beat Rhode Island just before the collapse began.

• St. Joe’s beat Xavier Thursday night, so they were in the national spotlight a bit. By knocking them off, the Flyers, in turn, have hopefully made some selection committee people take notice. Not in the “Wow, that’s a huge win” kind of way, but in the “Wow, I forgot about Dayton. Maybe I should look at them again” kind of way.

And so the Flyers head into the A-10 tournament with a pretty solid stretch to build on. I was a little worried that today's game might turn into a microcosm of the season, with a fast start and a slow finish, but the Flyers took care of business in the second half and did what they needed to do to win.

Let's hope they take care of business again this week.

Senior Day Reflections

Four years ago, Senior Day 2008 looked like it would be a very special one.

Flyer fans would be saying goodbye to five seniors, five who made up Brian Gregory's first recruiting class, five who looked like they would take the torch from Marshall, Waleskowski and Finn, and lead the Flyers to greater heights. Another NCAA tourney bid would be on the horizon. If there was talk of Gregory leaving, it would revolve around big schools wanting to pluck him away.

A lot can change in four years.

Instead of five seniors, there are three. Instead of multiple NCAA bids, there is only a faint hope for one. And instead of a highly-sought after coach, there is a coach many of us don't even want.

In a sense, those deviations from what was expected define the last four years. There was so much promise when BG's first recruiting class made its way to campus, but so much of it has faded now, lost amid the defections, the lack of postseason play and the coach whose profile has lost much of its luster.

Jimmy Binnie, Brian Roberts and Andres Sandoval have been intertwined with the faded promise. Binnie was a key part of that first recruiting class, but he has never become the sharp-shooting scoring threat we hoped for. Roberts, on the other hand, has been a thousand times more than what we could have hoped for, and yet, he's never played a postseason game. And Sandoval, who was at Richmond when his senior teammates were starting at Dayton, represents the changes on the fly BG had to make when things started sliding the wrong way.

But if that trio is emblematic of everything that's gone wrong the last four years, the effort they've put in and the perseverance they've shown represents everything that's been right. All we can ask for in the heat of a rough season is for players to keep pushing. I don't think these three ever stopped.

So yes, Senior Day 2008 will be different.

But it will still be special.

And now, a few words on each of the three seniors.

Andres Sandoval

When he signed with Dayton before the 2006-07 season, Andres Sandoval was supposed to be exactly what the Flyers needed. He was brought in to be a point guard, the point guard this class needed because of the departure of Trent Meacham.

He hasn't played much point guard.

It was clear early on last year that the position didn't really suit him. The emergence of London Warren meant the Flyers didn't have to keep forcing it. Sandoval was free to find a better role.

Thing is, I'm not sure he ever really found it. He's been a starter, he's come off the bench, he's played just about every position on the floor thanks to injuries. All of that, combined with general inconsistency, have left him as the one of the more unpredictable Flyers. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, always exciting.

But the second half of the season, he has weathered much of the inconsistency and become a key piece to the puzzle. He's the team's fifth-leading scorer and in conference play, he's averaged 8.3 points per game.

Strangely enough, he's been exactly what the Flyers needed, so maybe that label sticks, after all.

So thanks, Andres, for pushing through. I'm sure your last four years haven't been quite what you expected, either.

Jimmy Binnie

When Trent Meacham left, I assumed Jimmy Binnie would be next. The pair had been AAU teammates. They came to Dayton together. When one left, the presumption was the other would follow.

But Binnie stuck around, and without him, I'm not sure where the Flyers would be.

Early in the season, when so much was going right, I felt like Binnie had a lot to do with it. The fact that the Flyers finally had some senior leadership was making a difference, and Binnie was at the forefront.

As injuries mounted and things started to slip, Binnie was forced to take on different roles, and it hurt his game. His outside shooting took a hit, and he started to lose confidence. I'm sure he was as frustrated as anybody. He had finally found his role, and just like that it was gone. As Binnie lost his confidence, the Flyers started to slip further, and Binnie, not the type of player to pull a team out of a slump by himself, could only hold on like the rest of us.

But Binnie, like he has done throughout his career, has stuck with it, and if the Flyers make any kind of run in the A-10 tournament, Binnie will have a big hand in it. He was part of the difference when the season began. He can be part of it again.

So thanks, Jimmy, for sticking around. You will be missed.

Brian Roberts

Brian Roberts' career at Dayton did not start with a bang. It started, I'd imagine, with a sore throat.

Roberts had mono at the beginning of his freshman year. He missed most of the season's build-up, and because of that, we missed him. In my mind, he was the forgotten member of that recruiting class. It was the two kids who played together out in the midwest, the kid from Cincinnati who was supposed to be the next Ryan Gomes, the big man from Florida, and . . . who was the fifth?

The fifth turned out to be one of the greatest players in the history of Dayton basketball.

Even after he got over his illness, his impending greatness wasn't immediately apparent. He came off the bench in the early going and ended up starting just one game. He was a point guard who didn't the handle the ball that well and a shooting guard who wasn't really tall enough.

And yet, there was something special, some hard-to-define quality that he brought to the court. Whatever it was, I knew I liked Brian Roberts.

His sophomore year, he turned all the intangibles into something tangible, averaging 16 points per game. It was more of the same last year, as Roberts averaged 18.5 per game and became one of the conference's top players. This season, he has averaged 19.2 points per game, and he'll finish his career as one of the top five scorers in the program's history.

But for everything the numbers say, Brian Roberts, himself, says so much more.

He is, without a doubt, everything I could ever want a Dayton basketball player to be. He works hard. He's fearless. He leads his team by example. When things go wrong, he never blames anybody but himself, even as his lack of a supporting cast keeps him from reaching greater heights. He is, again without a doubt, my favorite Dayton Flyer, and I don't think anyone will ever overtake him.

It's a shame, of course, that Roberts has yet to play in a postseason game. I still hold onto hope that they'll make the NCAA tournament this season, mostly because I fully believe Roberts can will them there. But whatever happens or doesn't happen, I will never think less of Brian Roberts. If some people attach a "never made the tournament despite a great career" tag, I will try to convince them to cut the tag off. Brian Roberts has given unconditional effort every time he's stepped on the court, and he deserves unconditional love in return.

I hope the standing ovation he receives today lasts five minutes. I wish I could be there. Roberts was a freshman when I was a senior, so he's the last real personal link I have to Dayton basketball. The fact that his career is almost over makes me feel old, and frankly, a little unsteady. I can't imagine Dayton basketball without him. It just won't be the same. I can't imagine who I'll root for, and who I'll brag about.

I guess I can't believe it's over, either. These four years have gone by quickly, and while they've been a strange four years, full of ups and downs, the fact that we've been lucky enough to have Brian Roberts makes them a great four years.

So thanks, Brian, for being here. The pleasure has been all mine.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Oops My Bad, That's My Scenario

Wow, I just quoted "Big Pimpin" in the title of this post. That's a pretty surefire sign this entire post is going to be awesome. Because "Big Pimpin" is like the most awesomest song of all time. Yeah! Go Jay-Z.

Now that you've suffered your way through that first paragraph, allow me to explain why I'm acting weird. It's snowing here in lovely Dayton, Ohio. It's snowing a lot actually. And there's really no signs of it stopping anytime soon. They say we could have as much as 13 inches when it's all said and done (hopefully not). Combine that with the fact that I'm single and live in a crappy little apartment, and it makes for a boring night.

So I started thinking about this post, and how I would do a "Scenarios" post, where I would tell you everything that could happen in the A-10 this weekend and how each scenario would impact the seeding. Then I realized that the conference heading into the final weekend of games is still way too much of a cluster fuck, and I'd rather just wait to see what happens than try to figure it out in advance.

If you think I am taking the easy way out, you're right. But in my defense, a quick glance at the standings shows that the Flyers could finish anywhere from 6th to 11th in the standings. Then multiply that by 11 other teams who still don't know where they will be seeded, and the various different tiebreakers, and I just don't have that much energy.

So I won't be giving you all the scenarios, but I will be giving you the current standings (with updated tiebreaking data) and a brief preview of each game this weekend. And I promise that I won't quote Jay-Z lyrics anymore.

Current Standings
1. Xavier (13-2) -- clinched the # 1 seed
2. Temple (10-5) -- can wrap up #2 seed with a win
3. St. Joe's (9-6) -- 3-0 vs. other 9-6 teams
4. UMass (9-6) -- 1-2 vs. other 9-6 teams
5. Richmond (9-6) -- 0-2 vs. other 9-6 teams
6. Charlotte (8-7) -- has head-to-head over LaSalle
7. LaSalle (8-7) -- I have nothing to say about them
8. Dayton (7-8) -- 3-1 vs. other 7-8 teams
9. St. Louis (7-8) -- 1-2 vs. 7-8 teams, has head-to-head on URI
10. Rhode Island (7-8) -- 1-2 vs. 7-8 teams, loses h2h w/ SLU
11. Duquesne (6-9) -- Really? Five straight losses? Nice going
12. Fordham (5-10) -- has head-to-head over GW
13. George Washington (5-10) -- needs a miracle
14. St. Bonaventure (2-13) -- at least they finished the season

And the games (all on Saturday)...

St. Bonaventure @ Fordham, 1 PM
-It's as simple as this for Fordham: Win, and your in. Seems easy enough, doesn't it?

St. Joe's @ Dayton, 2 PM
-Kind of a big game for both teams really
-St. Joe's needs another quality road win to help their at-large hopes, not to mention trying to hold on to a first round A-10 bye
-Dayton needs a victory to get to 20 wins on the season, it would be a quality win for their very slim at-large hopes, and could greatly improve their A-10 tournament path

St. Louis @ Duquesne, 4 PM
-The battle for 9th? Maybe 10th? Two teams that really aren't all that good

Temple @ LaSalle, 4 PM
-The Owls can wrap up the 2 seed with a win, which would mean avoiding Xavier until the finals (even though Temple beat X this year)
-LaSalle is just fighting for seeding at this point

Charlotte @ Rhode Island, 7 PM
-Seeding game.
-Rhode Island is a very long shot for an at-large big, which would require winning this game, then going to the A-10 finals and losing to Xavier. No other scenario gets Rhody into the dance, and even this one might not.

Richmond @ Xavier, 7 PM
-Richmond playing for seeding
-Xavier trying not to limp into the A-10 tournament (literally and figuratively)

UMass @ George Wash, 7:30 PM
-UMass trying to get a first round bye, and keep some at-large hopes alive
-GW might be playing for nothing, if Fordham wins earlier in the day. If Fordham loses, then GW is playing for the 12th seed.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Welding Certificates for Everyone

You know what would have been bad? Shooting 60 percent from the field, making 14 of 17 free throws . . . and losing to the worst team in the league despite all that. Thankfully, the Flyers came through down the stretch tonight and beat St. Bonaventure 78-73.

I'm pretty sure this clinches an A-10 tournament berth. The Flyers are now 7-8. Fordham lost to Richmond tonight, so they drop to 5-10. The worst UD can do is 7-9. The best Fordham can do is 6-10. So with Fordham and the Bonnies definitely finishing below them, the Flyers are assured of at least 12th place, which would secure a bid.

Rejoice. Maintain disbelief that we're even talking about this, but rejoice.

Bonnies Tonight


In retrospect, with such a large collection of moderately decent teams in the A-10, few games this conference season have fallen into the "Easy Win" category. Tonight's game probably won't either, but it's about as close as we're going to get.

The Flyers will travel to Olean, N.Y., tonight for a game against St. Bonaventure, the only team in the conference that's been out of the picture for awhile. The Bonnies are 8-20 overall and 2-12 in conference play.

So it should be an easy one, but if we've learned anything the last two months, nothing's easy. The Bonnies are coming off a road win at St. Louis, and they'll be at home, celebrating Senior Night. They'll have more to play for than you might think.

Dayton has a lot to play for, too.

To keep alive even the tiniest glimmer of hope that the Flyers can get an at-large bid, they need to hit the 20-win plateau and get back to .500 in conference. That alone won't do it, but it would be a start. The Flyers would hit both of those benchmarks on the nose if they win their final two games.

That stretch starts tonight against the Bonnies, who, five years removed from the welding certificate scandal, are still reeling. They went 7-22 last year with current UD assistant Anthony Solomon at the helm. Solomon was fired after the season and replaced by Mark Schmidt, who hasn't had much more success. The Bonnies haven't won more than two games in a row all season and before the win over St. Louis, they had lost six straight.

But the seniors who will be honored tonight surely want to finish strong, and they're pretty capable. Six-foot-nine forward Michael Lee leads the team in nearly every statistical category and averages 17.4 points per game. Fellow senior Zarryon Feruti averages 13.7 points per game and Tyler Relph averages 11.3. That senior trio accounts for 64 percent of the Bonnies' scoring.

All that said, if the Flyers can beat Fordham on the road, they can beat St. Bonaventure on the road, and frankly, it's one they can't afford to lose, especially considering the current A-10 tournament picture. As noted in the post below this one, seven wins looks like the magic number. The Flyers currently have five. If they only get to six, they could be in trouble.

As a side note, it looks like you can watch the game online at http://www.channelsurfing.net/. It's on the schedule, at least.

Enjoy. Go Flyers.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

One Week To Go

Since I'm bored out of my mind today, here's another look at the A-10 Standings and the weekday games in the final week of the regular season. (NOTE: The standings below should be 100% accurate, reflecting the proper seeding based on tiebreakers as laid out by the A-10 media guide. I have included notes on the tiebreakers in italics. Obviously, quite a bit could change in the next 5 or 6 days).

1. Xavier (13-1) - Xavier has wrapped up the #1 seed
2. Temple (9-5)
3. St. Joe's (8-6) - 3-1 against the other teams that are 8-6
4. LaSalle (8-6) - 2-1 against the other teams that are 8-6
5. UMass (8-6) - 1-2 against the other teams that are 8-6
6. Richmond (8-6) - 1-3 against the other teams that are 8-6
7. Charlotte (7-7)
8. St. Louis (7-8) - Beat Rhode Island head-to-head
9. Rhode Island (7-8)
10. Duquesne (6-8) - Beat Dayton head-to-head
11. Dayton (6-8)
12. Fordham (5-9) - Beat GW head-to-head
13. George Washington (5-9)
14. St. Bonaventure (2-12) - Has been mathematically eliminated

As you can see, we know that Xavier is the one seed, we know that St. Bonaventure is staying home, and then we still have a giant cluster in the middle...and by middle, I mean two through 13.

Seven wins in conference is looking like it might be the benchmark for safety (although that is not guaranteed if Fordham and GW finish strong). If you finish with only six wins, you could find yourself in a multi-team tie for those last couple of spots.

And now, for the games this week....

Dayton @ St. Bonaventure, Wednesday, 7 PM
-A win is expected for the Flyers, and needs to happen. Although I don't think a win would mathematically clinch an A-10 tourney berth (b/c of the vast possibilities for ties), a victory here would put the Flyers in great position given the tough schedule remaining for GW.

Duquesne @ Temple, Wednesday, 7 PM
-Temple is trying to hang on to that #2 spot, and a first round bye.
-Duquesne still has SLU this weekend, and probably wants to find a way to win one of the two in order to get that coveted 7th conference victory.

Fordham @ Richmond, Wednesday, 7 PM
-A tough road game for the Rams, who are fighting for their postseason lives. However, they still have St. Bonaventure at home this weekend, so definitely some wiggle room in this game. Remember, Fordham just has to finish ahead of GW to make the A-10 tournament, and then who knows what will happen after that.
-Richmond, on the other hand, has struggled against the rest of the competition that it is tied with. If it wants any chance of getting a first round bye, the Spiders better be thinking about winning their final two games (Fordham, and then a tough one @ Xavier).

LaSalle @ UMass, Wednesday, 7:30 PM
-I don't know that this game gets any bigger for the two teams involved. For one, it's a matchup of two teams that are both 8-6, and need victories as they fight for a first round bye. The subplot to this is that UMass still has NCAA at-large hopes, and a loss at home in the final week of the season could severely damage that. Maybe the best game of the week.

George Washington @ Charlotte, Thursday, 8 PM
-GW needs to win out (@Char, vs. UMass). The Colonials have to assume that Fordham will beat SBU, and since the Rams hold the tiebreaker, GW has to finish with more wins than Fordham to get into the tournament. Thus, this is a must-win for GW. They do have the advantage of not playing til Thursday, and knowing exactly what they must do to keep pace with the Rams.
-Charlotte, on the other hand, is treading water. A .500 conference mark, not a great chance at a first round bye, and a tough road game at URI to close things out this weekend. This game doesn't mean a whole lot to the 49ers, other than the difference of maybe a conference 5/6 seed vs a 8/9 seed I would imagine.

Xavier @ St. Joseph's, Thursday 9 PM
-St. Joe's took Xavier to the wire at the Cintas Center before losing by four. The Hawks want to beat X, and have a big confidence boost heading into the A-10 tourney. St. Joe's also has at-large NCAA hopes, and a win over Xavier would only help that.
-Xavier just needs to play smart, and stay healthy. They are the one seed, they are going to the NCAAs, and they don't really have anything to play for. Granted if they win out, they could get a 2 seed in the dance, but at this point, I don't think the difference between a 2 and a 3 seed is worth risking injuries to starters (notably, the recovering Drew Lavender).

Monday, March 3, 2008

Why the silence?

I realize that I am one of the contributors to this blog, so in asking this question, I'm in a way asking myself for answers that I don't have. But the question needs to be asked, "Why has no one posted a comment since UD beat Fordham Saturday night?"

A few possible answers....

-The Flyers finally won a game that they were supposed to win, and there's really nothing more to say than that.

-It's a lot easier to write more when you are complaining than when you are trying to praise a team.

-The game was ugly. No one on the Flyers finished with more than 12 points, so there's no player that we can point at and say "he was the difference maker".

-This was a fluke road win, and the Flyers still need to win their final two to finish .500 in conference.

-No one really cares, because the NCAA is still a longshot anyhow.

I'm not saying all of these are true, I'm simply saying that they could be reasons why no one has much to say about this victory. Feel free to add your comments.