It’s that time of the year when we can start looking ahead and attempt to extrapolate the results for the rest of the season. Yes, I do realize how precipitous and hackneyed such an endeavor is, but it was either this or writing about how Saint Bonaventure might have been the only college basketball program that drove someone to commit suicide (although I suspect some Sweaters might have “accidentally” overdosed on pain pills during the Brian Gregory era).
For the record, there are only five acceptable scenarios for contemplating suicide.
- You’re about to report to prison in order to serve a long sentence
- The FBI comes to your door with a search warrant for your computer’s hard drive
- Having an incurable, debilitating disease
- Your husband tells you he thinks he’s a woman
- You’ve been offended by something you read on Twitter.
The King of Speculation, Ken Pomeroy, sets the pace for the rest of us amateur prognosticators. On the right you will see KenPom’s forecast for the remainder of Dayton’s season. Ken’s computer doesn’t offer too many surprises for the Flyer Faithful. The KenBot 3000 has UD protecting their home floor the rest of the way, predicting important win in what are Dayton’s most important home games left to play: Rhode Island and VCU.
The road, as any God-fearing Dayton fan will assert, holds many mysteries for Archie Miller’s club. League away games from the Sweater Centre has been this program’s Vietnam, only more depressing. Pomeroy believes the Flyers will go down tomorrow night at Saint Bonaventure, lose in Kingston versus Rhode Island, come up short at St. Joseph’s and go down in defeat against the Spiders in Richmond on the first of March. For you Discover Arts majors, that’s four losses over UD’s final six road matchups (Ken’s system projects wins at George Mason and Fordham).
It’s no secret that Dayton has basically carried around a bed loaded with fecal stains on their road trips over the past two decades. No matter the talent gap, which, to be honest, has never been a major factor in UD’s road woes, the Flyers manage to lose a game or two away from the Arena that make you scratch your head bloody. The Flyers have had two of its best seasons in quite some time the previous two seasons, yet have gone a combined 8-8 on the road over that span.
Archie Miller has accomplished much in his short stay at Dayton. The UD basketball program has never been more visible, the recruiting efforts have taken a discernible step forward and the expectations are at an all-time high. The only missing piece of the puzzle is success on the road. With the exodus of Butler, the Overlords and Temple, Dayton has been gifted a chance to be a dominant force in the Atlantic Ten for years to come. For the most part, Miller has taken advantage of that opportunity. However, one has to wonder what this program would look like if it simply won more games than it lost on the road each season.
Archie’s record on the road during conference play, as you can see, has been underwhelming to say the least:
This isn’t picking on Archie Miller’s road record, I would probably kill my parents if Archie gave me a good enough reason to. Outside of Archie’s somewhat questionable coaching strategies, I will defend Miller to the death. Furthermore, this isn’t the equivalent of asking a two-hundred pound girl to get in bikini shape for the summer. This is pleading with a girl who ate too many hoagies over winter break to tighten things up a bit. UD just needs to play to its potential on the road to take yet another step forward.
For all the well-earned platitudes Archie has garnered, his record on the road isn’t much better than Brian Gregory’s (or even Oliver Purnell’s). Archie’s current A10 road record stands at 14-21, a 40% winning percentage. Gregory and Purnell had almost identical records away from the Arena — BG posted a 23-41 (36%) record over his eight years in the Gem City, OP put up a 23-40 (37%) mark over his eight-year reign (for some reason, which I can’t recall, Dayton only played 15 league games in Purnell’s final season, seven on the road and eight at home).
This week poses a stern test for Miller and the Flyers, two games on the road in the Empire State. Think about all the missed classes! UD will journey to the two road venues they have actually enjoyed some success at in the past: the dreary confines of the Reilly Center in Olean and Fordham’s cramped bandbox, Rose Hill Gym in the Bronx.
First up, the Welders of Saint Bonaventure.
The Bonnies are 12-4 on the season, now 4-1 in the A10 after taking a loss at Duquesne this past weekend (twinsies!). Is Saint Bonaventure’s record a complete and total aberration? Absolutely. SBU has only one top 50 RPI win at the time of this writing, against Davidson, the other eleven wins coming at the expense of teams with a 100+ RPI rating. Nevertheless, the Bonnies wins against Davidson, Rhode Island do indicate that Mark Schmidt’s team is ostensibly one of the better teams in the league right now.
Last year’s UD team famously took on all comers with six scholarship players and one shining beacon of courage, Bobby Wehrli. The Bonnies find themselves in a similar situation this season, as Saint Bonaventure has three players who clock at least 35 minutes per game. The rest of the court time is split fairly evenly among four other welder-athletes.
With such a short bench, it’s not surprising that SBU pushes the gas on offense and takes a bit of a respite on defense. The Bonnies are scoring just north of 77 points per game, relying on offensive efficiency to win ballgames. Schmidt’s squad is the sixth best foul-shooting team in the nation, currently converting 77.4% of their free-throw attempts. In addition to taking advantage of easy points at the line, the Bonnies are cautious with the ball. Saint Bonaventure turns the ball over on a mere 16.8% of their possessions.
Unlike the majority of teams that score in the high-seventies, the Bonnies do not rely heavily on three-point shooting. About a third of SBU’s shots come from behind the arc and they convert about the same percentage as well. I got the sense from watching Schmidt’s team just a handful of times that they are extremely disciplined, they have an understanding of what they do well and where their glaring weaknesses are.
Their one obvious flaw – the Bonnies lack size and incidentally are a rather sub-par rebounding team. SBU is one of the more pathetic defensive rebounding clubs in the country, their opponents are racking up an offensive rebounding percentage of 33.8% (UD, by comparison, is ranked 69th in the nation, allowing a 27.3% opponent offensive rating percentage). That brutal presence on the defensive boards allows for too many second-chances points and is an observable factor in close games.
Saint Bonaventure employs a laissez faire approach defensively. The Bonnies are more than happy to allow their opponents to get easy buckets in the paint on in transition, but put their foot down when it comes to allowing a gang of three-pointers. Bonnie opposition is shooting only 30.1% from three and attempt less than their season average from behind the line. Mark Schmidt is the “I don’t mind if you drink and shove things up each other’s asses, just do it in the comfort of my basement” type of parent.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that UD owns Saint Bonaventure like it just came off a boat with a head full of lice. Dayton is 14-1 over the last fifteen matchups against the Bonnies. I’m not sure there’s a team in the Atlantic Ten that Dayton has dominated as much as Saint Bonnie. Of course this means nothing in the grand scheme of things, just thought it was interesting and something to pound chest about.
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Are Jaylen Adams and Marcus Posley the best backcourt duo in the conference? I don’t know, pretty sure it doesn’t matter, but the pair does get after it game after game. Posley, finally a senior, is a volume scorer who has a penchant for making big plays. Posley will score 15-20 points against Dayton, it may take 25 shots to do it however. Adams showed a ton of potential as a freshman a season ago and has continued to make major strides this season. Adams takes a more measured approach than Posley offensively, not forcing too many shots and prioritizes finding the open man. Adams has a very high ceiling and will be one of the best players in the conference over the next two seasons.
Dion Wright is Saint Bonnie’s version of Kendall Pollard. He’s a 6’7” forward who is tasked with acting like a true big man. Wright joins Adams and Posley as Bonnie’s main offensive weapons, coming into the game with Dayton averaging around sixteen points per game. Wright does have the ability to knock down shots from the perimeter, but he’ll do most of his damage around the paint.
Starting alongside Wright in the frontcourt are Derrick Woods and Idris Taqqee. Woods is a steady freshman presence who has shown flashes of offensive ability this season. He’s long and runs the floor well for a man his size. Taqqee is a wing who doesn’t do a whole lot on either side of the ball. He must be the “Sam Miller Practice Player of the Week” award winner for the Bonnies.
The Bonaventure bench features forwards Denzell Gregg and Jordan Tyson, as well as freshman point-guard Nelson Kaputo. Gregg is a unique athlete who can do a little bit of everything on the floor. He has really come alive in conference play, averaging 15.6 points against A10 competition. Tyson is the team’s biggest player, his only role is to rebound, defend and give the starting forwards a breath. Kaputo played on Canada’s U17 team this summer and has the potential to be one of the better point-guards in the A10 as his career develops. He has a solid stroke from the perimeter and has the ability to drive and dish.
St. Bonaventure has a strong offense, with their offensive efficiency ranking 38th. They do this by essentially not sucking at anything, they’re merely slightly above average in everything. Except, of course, free throw percentage. Yes, here we go again. Let’s hope the Nate’s Numbers Free Throw Line Hex strikes again. The Bonnies shoot 77.4% from the line, with most of that production coming from Posley, Wright, Adams and Gregg. While none of these gents draw fouls at an exceptional rate, they all sure as well convert them. All four shoot over 72%, with Posley and Adams north of 85%.
Why so much production from these four? Well, the Bonnies have a bench similar to our Flyers last year. They only get 23% of minutes from their reserves. As a comparison, UD got 21% of their minutes from the pine last year. With two 6′ 7″ players, one at six-feet even and another at 6′ 2,” their core four aren’t that different than UD running Pierre, Pollard, Davis and Scooch out on the floor for most the minutes last year.
The good news is Mark Schmidt isn’t nearly adept at designing defenses with a relatively short team and short bench as Archie. Bonas is flat average in defensive efficiency, and it’s only that proficient due to teams shooting 30% from behind the arc against them. I’ll always argue this is typically controlled by the shooters, not the defense, but we can save that for another day. Point is, I think their defensive efficiency maybe slightly better than it should be. I think this could be a game where we see a big game from Chief. The Bonnies have no real inside presence and give up two point buckets at over a 50% shooting clip, while being almost dead last in allowing offensive rebounds. With all that being said, this is a road game against a decent team. I think a double-double or more from Big Steve will be needed to eke out a victory in Bum Fuck, NY
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I made a solemn vow to our readers to never lie or stretch the truth. I had this game circled as a loss during the preseason. My thinking was that (a) Dayton obviously has a history of shitting the bed on the road early in preseason play, and (b) the Flyers have historically failed to play to their potential in Olean. Whereas UD certainly has a checkered past as far as early road league games is concerned, it turns out Dayton hasn’t lost in Olean quite as much as my faulty memory believed. In fact, the Flyers have been as successful against SBU as any team in the conference. So, fuck my initial leaning.
Although the students at Saint Bonnie are so close to the floor you can somehow see their parents disappointment in their souls, the Flyers ignore the noise and roll to a 71-64 victory over the Bonnies. I’d expect Dyshawn will hear some unfortunate chants during the game, let’s see how he responds.
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.