The mark of any decent UD freshman isn’t necessarily the ability to score, defend or rebound – although those are certainly welcome. The best thing you can ever say about a Flyer newcomer is that they aren’t a glaring liability while on the court (let’s call it the Wehrli Theorem since you guys wanna be so fucking technical about it). The less time you spend cursing a freshman under your breath, the better.
The Flyers brought six newcomers to campus this fall — two of which, Chief McElvene and Charles Cooke were already in the fold for a year and certainly weren’t complete mysteries coming into the season. Ryan Mikesell? Well, when discussing the incoming class he was often referred to as the “baseball player.” The St. Henry product was the afterthought, the signee everyone (including the most knowledgeable Flyer fan in all of the land, yours truly) gave the side-eye. How wrong you guys were, for shame.
In a matter of forty minutes, Ryan “Chip? Tater?” Mikesell has already eclipsed Bobby Wehrli as everyone’s favorite Caucasoid. At times it felt like Ryan Gosling strapped up in the Red and Blue. The 6’7″ forward led all scorers tonight with 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting (an exceptional 5-of-7 from behind the arc), as the Flyers took down the SE Missouri State Redhawks, 84-53 in the Sweater Centre. Mikesell scoring performance was the best freshman opener since Chris Wright dropped 22 on his debut. It’s clear that Jimmie Binnie left some rounds in the chamber of that #33 jersey. Not to get ahead of ourselves, but there’s is plenty to like about Mikesell’s potential as the second or third guy off the bench right now.
As always, it’s difficult to take away anything substantial from an pink-socking against an inferior opponent, but this much is clear — UD is going to put up some points this season. The Flyers didn’t shoot it particularly well tonight, particularly from the stripe (a pedestrian 60% from the line), but it seems from the outset that they will have more offensive weapons this season.
Scoochie Smith and Kendall Pollard, Dayton’s most important pieces, took a bit of a back seat this evening, as the pair combined attempted a mere nine shots against the Redhawks. I’d imagine Scooch and Pollard take more ownership of the game as UD faces its first real test of the season against the Crimson Tide.
Charles Cooke, the heir apparent at the wing in Dyshawn Pierre’s absence, had an off night, connecting on only two of his nine shots, but inspired confidence nonetheless. The ability is there, just need the execution. DURRELL was hot in the first half, scoring 12 of his 15 points in the game’s opening frame. If UD can get 8 points a game from DD, it will be a good year indeed for the Sweater Nation™.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss UD’s most fascinating player, Big Steve McElvene. The Chief only logged nineteen minutes, scoring 5 points, against an undersized SEMO squad, but he did all of the little things you like to see from a man his size. The big man blocked three shots, altered a handful of others and grabbed six boards. It’s too soon to make any declarations regarding McElvene’s offensive capabilities, however it does seem that he lacks a back-to-the-basket game and isn’t going to be an offensive priority when UD is on the attack. Which is fine as long as he does all of the unsung things that make someone of his size so valuable, particular on a mid-major level.
Big picture — UD’s depth was plain all night, as Archie freely juggled lineups throughout the contest. As a result, no player played more than 26 minutes tonight and the Gem City Cagers should be raring to go when they take on Alabama on Tuesday afternoon. Cut down on turnovers, hit the freebies and the Flyers will be in business all year long. The game tips off at one in the afternoon, so set your emotional clocks accordingly.
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.