The following Archie Miller quote, taken from the Ice Road Trucker’s column on Wednesday night, neatly sums up the current state of the Flyer basketball program:
[pull_quote_center]“Right now our chemistry, our togetherness, our depth, everything that made us the team we are to this point, that’s our concern,” Miller said. “I’m not sure this team is confident about one another right now and confident about what we’re doing every day. We need to get that back.”[/pull_quote_center]
Over my extended viewing of Dayton basketball over the past decade or so, which may be the most depressing sentence I’ve ever written, it’s become clear that there are two types of Flyer teams that appear on the court at various intervals over a given season — (1) a UD team that plays with nothing to lose, and (2) a team that is fully aware that there is, in fact, something on the line. The former plays with youthful exuberance and commonly displays an entertaining style of basketball. The latter plays tighter than a heterosexual mouse’s asshole.
I personally like this take from our own Secaur:
[pull_quote_center]Trademark of UD basketball seems to be having a group of seniors you can’t wait to see hit the fucking bricks. Think of all the seniors over the years you just couldn’t wait to see graduate – Mark Jones, Binnie, Mickey Perry, Marcus Johnson, Huelsman, etc. This year, more of the same. Kavs is garbage and Vee is meh. Oliver is at least somewhat valuable, but he has too many stretches of “what the fuck is he doing?” play. He has a low b-ball IQ (as does most of this team), and that’s not even mentioning the 0-12 debacle against SLU. Vondy, you will be missed.[/pull_quote_center]
This year’s edition of the Flyers is no different. Go into Maui with low expectations, hoping to steal at least one victory, and UD comes out with an upset over Gonzaga, a tip-ball away from beating Baylor and a dominating performance over California. Coincidentally, all three teams are safely in the tournament field as of this writing.
A national ranking is the result of UD’s effort in Hawaii, which Flyers fans know is the kiss of death. Sure enough, Dayton goes into Normal, Illinois, and serves up a gutter-ball. It’s science, pure Gem City science.
The positive takeaway is that Dayton should be loose, so loose, over the next five weeks. I’d expect them to pull out some games they probably shouldn’t, because that is what they do — the program is like a perpetual season of Dexter, just good enough to keep you somewhat interested.
Speaking of somewhat interested, the Flyers travel to Rhode Island to take on the Rams tomorrow afternoon.
Rhody was hoping to make a bit of a leap this season, ain’t happening. The Rams are 10-10 on the year, just 1-4 in conference play. Danny Hurley’s program expected to turn the corner this year, he might have to wait another season or two. Rhode Island has absolutely owned UD as of late — winning the last six meetings and five in a row in Kingston. The only team URI has fared better against in conference play is Fordham. Fordham.
URI might be the worst shooting team UD will face this season. If I was Archie (you know, coaching a team that is reeling, 1-3 in the league, season slipping away, defense absolutely rudderless, two regulars out with an injury), I’d break out the zone against Rhody in the first half just to see how it goes. What’s the worst that could happen? The Rams are shooting 43.2% from the field and a paltry 28.4% from behind the three-point line.
Rhody averages less than a point per possession, that’s not efficient, dudes. URI has always had players who like to create things on their own (think Dawan Robinson, Will Daniels, Keith Cothran, etc.) and this year is no different, the Rams only dish out an average of 11 assists per game and turn the ball over around 15 times per contest. The Rams lack depth, going 8-9 deep on most nights.
Meet and Greet
Xavier Munford (16.3 ppg/4.4 rpg) is still at Rhode Island and he is still shooting as erratically as a Somali teenager high on khat. The senior is hitting 28.6% of his three-point attempts and just 37.2% from the field overall. This means, of course, that Munford will go off and drop a buzzer-beater against UD. Joining Munford in the backcourt is highly-touted freshman EC Matthews (11.4 ppg/4.2 rpg). Matthews is not the freshman gunner Rhody wants, but he is certainly the volume-scorer they deserve.
TJ Buchannan (5.9 ppg/2.2 apg) will likely start in Rhody’s three-guard attack and serve as the team’s main ballhandler. Biggie Minnis (5.1 ppg/2.6 apg) and Matthew Butler (1.8 ppg) round out URI’s guard contingent.
Junior transfer Gilvydas Biruta, the Lithuanian sensation, is Rhody’s main weapon in the middle. When not in foul trouble, Biruta (10.9 ppg/7.0 rpg) is a solid interior scorer and rebounder. Hassan Martin (4.6 ppg/4.2 rpg) is a garbage man downlow and URI’s best shotblocker. Jarelle Reischel (5.7 ppg/2.9 rpg) and Ifeyani Onyekaba (3.8 ppg/3.5 rpg) are big dudes and bad news.
I’m picking UD to win with the caveat that this is the least confident I’ve ever been in any predication I’ve made. I am literally trying to will a victory out of this prognostication.
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.