Another check-in from Ray Floriani, God bless this man.
Brooklyn, NY– On to the finals. Dayton prevailed 56-52 over Rhode Island in a game that contrasted the quarterfinal victory less than 24 hours earlier. Against the Rams the transition opportunities were not as prevalent. Rhode Island coach Danny Hurley was content on keeping this a half court affair. He did a good job dictating tempo and not allowing the Flyers to get going in transition. Added observations:
Dayton looked like they may get early separation and get a decent lead. E.C. Matthews (a game high 16 points) put a stop to that. URI’s Matthews canned a few three pointers the first half negating and chances of pulling away while establishing himself as some requiring defensive attention.
A key factor was Dayton forcing the Rams into a 32% TO rate. Twenty turnovers in a 62 possession game. That’s the difference. The scoring numbers for the Flyers were not gaudy. Jordan Sibert (12) and Dyshawn Pierre (10) were the lone double-digit scorers for Archie Miller’s group. Kendall Pollard, such a force in the quarterfinals, was limited to nine as URI was not looking for him to produce a repeat of Friday.
Not pretty as the Flyers shot 42% and had a high 19% turnover rate of their own. This time of year style points are not tabulated. Just the final score.
Next up is VCU, very impressive in the 93-73 win over Davidson. The Wildcats jumped out to an early lead. VCU went on a big run sparked by a down pour of threes. Davidson went on another run early second half cutting into the deficit. VCU responded with yet another run. Game over.
The final will be VCU’s fourth game in four days. Dayton will be playing their third in three. Don’t think VCU will be unduly fatigued. They were tested by Fordham and Richmond. The latter part of the Richmond game through the semi they came on strong. The Rams seem to benefit by that extra game, shaking off the cobwebs and now coming together.
Leading 90-73 VCU chose to shoot a three at the buzzer. It wasn’t a reserve or walk-on letting it fly. The shot went in 93-73 final. No need to shoot that one. The game was over. If there are basketball ’gods’ and I was with VCU in any way, the night before the final would be spent begging the ’gods’ for forgiveness.
URI coach Danny Hurley is a good basketball friend I have known for many years. Even officiated his St. Benedict’s(NJ) games a few times. But is whining or criticizing every call or non-call necessary? Speaking as a veteran basketball official I admit we do make mistakes. We are human. Players make mistakes as well. In the end, their miscues out weight ours in deciding the outcome.
What to expect from VCU ‘havoc’. Shaka Smart will gladly push the pace, press, shoot threes and go inside. The latter point came after seeing how LaSalle was effective down low in their heart breaker against Davidson. Figure more of the same. Their half court sets are similar to those of the Flyers. Dayton has better ball movement while VCU, spreading you out, is more likely to take the defense off the dribble.
Interesting to see what tempo the Flyers will utilize. Run with the Rams or slow things down. Either way, Dayton turnovers must be kept to a minimum as the Rams generate fast break points off those mistakes. Final factor, VCU was defeated by Dayton at home on February 28. VCU wanted payback against Davidson. Will the same scenario be in effect? Simply, this is a matchup worthy of a championship final.
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.