There’s plenty of speculation bouncing around Dayton Twitter right now. Some of the hotter takes, as to be expected, are beyond suppositional — throwing logic and reason to the wind. So, let’s discuss.
The consensus seems to be that all UD has to do is go 2-2 and win a conference tournament game and they’ll be in the tournament field. I’m not sure how true that is.
- First off, a lot is dependent on who UD beats over the next four games — wins over UMass and Saint Louis would be significantly more beneficial victories than wins over St. Joseph’s and Richmond.
- Dayton is in the unenviable position of hoping that (a) other bubble teams stumble and (b) conference tournament titles overwhelmingly go to teams safely in the field of 68.
- A 9-7 finish in league play won’t give UD a bye into the quarterfinals in Brooklyn, and I’m not sure how much a victory over a hapless A10 team, say Duquesne or La Salle, in the first round of the tournament would strengthen their resume anyway.
- This is pure basketball politics, but I’m not convinced the selection committee grants bids to SIX Atlantic Ten teams. If you consider Saint Louis, UMass and VCU locks for the Dance, which at this point I think you should, and realize that St. Joe’s and George Washington certainly are strong candidates as of this writing, I’m not sure where that leaves teams like Richmond and Dayton. Does a 9-7 Dayton team get a bid over an 11-5 GW team? Does a 9-7 Dayton team get a bid over an 11-5 St. Joe’s team? (Consider that SJU may have beaten UD twice when the committee meets in March) I don’t know. Is UD’s non-conference profile that much stronger than GW or St. Joe’s?
The point is, there are so many moving parts and scenarios to consider that I don’t think Dayton closing out the regular season with a 2-2 record clinches anything. It certainly puts UD into the discussion, but I don’t see how you can make the case that 2-2 does much more than that.
3-1? I’m feeling good. That would mean three top-50 RPI wins, including one over either UMass or Saint Louis. 1-3? Dayton has to win the A10 tournament. 0-4? We bury Archie in the banks of the Miami River.
St. Joseph’s has done exactly what I have always hoped Dayton would do: win the games they were supposed to, won a couple they probably shouldn’t have and only suffered losses to quality opponents. That is the recipe for success in the Atlantic Ten, that’s how the postseason sausage gets made. There is nothing sexy about this St. Joe’s team, they simply kept their heads down and racked up enough wins to be a strong at-large candidate.
In all likelihood, Phil Martell’s club will enter the A10 Tournament with around 21-22 wins, a top four seed in the conference tourney and an RPI in the low 30’s. I like their chances. This was an important year for Martelli, as the program has been trending downward, to put it kindly, over the past decade. This isn’t to say he was a dead man walking without a tourney bid this year, but his seat was certainly warm. This will be St. Joe’s first 20-win season since 2007-08.
SJU came into the Sweater Centre back in late January and completely stifled UD defensively, earning a 60-57 victory. UD took a lead into halftime, trailed as much as fifteen points before tying the game up at 57 with ten seconds left. Then Dayton played IPFW to St. Joe’s Dayton, as Langston Galloway hit a buzzer-beating three to give the Hawks the victory. It would have been nice to have that one now, huh?
St. Joe’s has posted a 15-3 record since their loss to Villanova on Dec. 7th, and have won four in a row and six of their last seven.
Meet and Greet
Langston Galloway (16.8 ppg/4.5 rpg) is one of the league’s better perimeter shooters and pairs with Chris Wilson (9.3 ppg/3.4 rpg/2.9 apg) as one of the A10’s most consistent backcourts.
The frontcourt is led by the freaky atheletic Ron Roberts (14.3 ppg/7.2 rpg) and my personal diety, Halil Kanacevic (10.9 ppg/8.6 rpg/4.5 apg). I will say it again, Kanacevic is one of the most watchable guys that has ever come through the A10, I’m going to miss him.
If not for Jon Severe and EC Matthews, freshman big DeAndre Bembry (11.5 ppg/4.5 rpg) would be the leading candidate for Freshman of the Year in the conference.
SJU went just seven deep the first time around, with all five starters logging at least 35 minutes a piece. I’d expect the same on Tuesday.
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.