It is December 4th, 2012. The time is 7:17 pm. After watching the Georgia Bulldogs come up just short against Alabama, five yards short to be exact, I’ve decided to stay here until Mark Richt explains when it is appropriate, if ever, to spike a football in order to stop the play clock. I’m handcuffed to my seat, covered in my own bodily waste and feasting on peanut shells and what appears to be a water bottle filled with tobacco juice.
In the immediate aftermath of the game, after I was done cursing God and wiping away my tears so as to not upset the young children around me, I punched up the Dayton/Northern Illinois game on my phone. It was halftime and NIU could only manage to put up five points against the cagers from the Gem City.
Was it good defense by the home team, an absolutely shocking offensive performance from an anemic Husky offense? I have no fucking idea, and neither do you. That’s the problem with playing a cluster of tomato cans during the out-of-conference portion of the schedule — a win is truly just a win, there are no absolutes of which to speak of.
What I can tell you, and I think there will be a consensus on this, are some of the glaring issues this team faces over the next three months.
- Scoring: Will remain a huge issue for the Flyers. Dillard is best used as a facilitator, but really has no one to facilitate to. 70% of UD’s offense comes from four sources – Dillard, Benson, Oliver and Sanford. Relying on a handful of players for a significant amount of your offense is a recipe for disaster over the course of a season. Consider that Dillard and Sanford are streaky scorers and the issue becomes that much more pronounced.
- Freshmen: While their performances haven’t been completely subpar, the Flyers will need Devin Scott, Jalen Robinson and Dyshawn Pierre to contribute in some small way each time out. It’s clear that part of the problem is the absence of Kavanaugh and the sustained nonexistence of Matt Derenbecker, Kav left a hole Scott and Robinson aren’t ready to fill and Derenbecker hasn’t shown even a glimpse of possibilities up to this point. The positive? There’s plenty of time for the freshmen to find their way.
- Rebounding: This facet of the game hasn’t been as big of an advantage as year’s past. Again, Kavanaugh’s dismissal plays a role in this particular deficiency. Devin Oliver has been excellent on the boards, currently averaging eight per game. Josh Benson, on the other hand, has been a near non-factor on the glass. The 6’9” senior is pulling down just 4.9 rebounds per, barely ranking ahead of Pierre for second on the roster. This area, always a UD plus point, needs to improve before conference play commences.
These areas tend to improve with time (don’t they?), but the Flyers lack of depth has made them glaring issues. Kav’s suspension, coupled with Derenbecker’s abysmal start to the season, have placed a great deal of pressure on the rest of the squad.
Like I said, plenty of time to address these issues. However, I think the Crimson Tide will be poised to take advantage of them tomorrow night.
The Tide rolls (wink) into tomorrow’s game with an auspicious 6-1 record. However, Anthony Grant’s club is yet to be tested – its most impressive win coming against Oregon State on a neutral floor. Bama had an opportunity to lock in a resume building victory this past Saturday at Cincinnati, but came up just short as Cashmere Wright connected on a buzzer-beater to seal the win for the Bearcats.
Coming off the school’s first NCAA appearance in six years, the Tide was picked to finish in the middle of the SEC by the preseason prognosticators. Bama welcomes back four starters from last season’s 21-12 squad (which included a loss to UD at the Arena) and looks to improve on last year’s mark. Alabama has one of the better backcourts in the nation and will offer Dayton’s guards a stern test on both sides of the floor. Bama’s primary weakness, as always, has been on the boards, where the Tide have allowed teams to hang around due to second-chance opportunities. The current Tide squad is very young, led by mostly undergrads, and undersized for a BCS program. They are likely a year away for seriously competing on the national battleground.
Already in his fourth year, Anthony Grant is building a solid program in Tuscaloosa and even hopes to be recognized by someone on campus someday. He is tired of being confused for a maintenance worker or part of the cafeteria staff. His belief that bringing in freak athletes will lead to success has been paying dividends for Bama. If you are between 6’4 and 6’7” and can jump over an ice cream truck while holding a cinderblock, there’s a good chance Grant wants to offer you a free ride to Alabama. The UD grad likes his team to get up and down the court, shot selection is judged on a sliding scale.
Bama’s strength is contained in the backcourt, highlighted by junior Trevor Releford (17.5 ppg, 3.2 apg) and sophomore Trevor Lacey (13.9 pgg, 3.9 apg). This is surely the roster with the most black guys named Trevor in college basketball history. Seriously, if you meet a black guy and he says his name is Trevor run because you are about to be murdered or hoodwinked into buying a poorly crafted mixtape). Releford is the team’s undisputed leader, the man with the ball in his hands with the game on the line. Lacey was a much ballyhooed recruit coming into his freshman season last year, but a knee injury derailed some of his progress.
Both Releford and Lacey are excellent shooters from the outside, each hitting about half of their attempts from behind the arc, capable of stretching the floor and blowing by defenders cheating on the perimeter. They are great athletes, probably good enough to start at cornerback for most of the teams in the Big Ten.
6’5” sophomore guard Levi Randolph (6.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg) is an excellent perimeter rebounder and gets most of his points going to the basket with his head down, hoping for something good to happen. He is a lockdown defender with the type of wingspan that would cause Jay Bilas’ penis to spit up blood. Rodney Cooper (14.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg) is another name you should remember, if you are into that sort of thing. Cooper is a volume scorer, capable of putting up big numbers if/when he gets hot. Andrew Steele, a fifth-year senior who has spent more time in a hospital than a classroom, is back and ready to get this whole college thing over with. He comes into tomorrow’s game playing just 15 minutes a game, scoring around four points a contest.
Up front, the Tide is led (barely) by Nick Jacobs (4.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg). Jacobs, like all of Bama’s bigs, is asked to take up space, put a body on someone and get out of the way of the guys who can actually play basketball. Devonta Pollard, a freshman, is a five-star recruit, Grant’s most prominent signee, who has yet to have a breakout performance. Pollard is a shorter Chris Bosh, a slim lefty with the ability to step out of the paint and knock down some jumpers.
“So far as the theories of mathematics are about reality, they are not certain; so far as they are certain, they are not about reality.”
Prediction: This game is on the road and Alabama simply has too much talent for Dayton to contend with. Dillard will struggle due to the pressure from Bama’s backcourt and the Flyers bigs won’t be able to take advantage of the Tide’s deficiencies in the rebounding department. Tide wins, 72-59.
Tom Blackburn is a proud U. o' D. alum. He loses faith in humanity one day at a time, but not in you, you seem like you are all kinds of alright. Charter member of the T-Man fanclub.