Everything is always great in the beginning – be it relationships, school semesters or Saw movies. They each begin with hope and endless possibilities, you’re optimistic and no one can shake you from feeling good about the future. Of course, like most things in life, reality eventually sets in and it all turns to shit. This being the often fortuitous world we live in.
But the past three seasons in the Gem City have felt different. Flyer basketball, and I’ll even include the women’s team here for you more open-minded individuals, has been a consistent source of joy in our lives. Even when things seemed to take a turn for the worse, I’m speaking of the numerous off the court incidents in particular, Archie Miller and the Cagers have reached the potential most of us have always thought was possible for this program.
The good news it seems, by any account, that Dayton will continue its rise in the college basketball world. This is, on paper, the season we’ve all been waiting for. The Flyers are a fully formed roundballin’ machine, capable of utter domination this year. They have the talent, depth and experience to reach great heights. Tonight is the first game of what could be a very special season. My advice to you is to savor the journey. This will be the last season we get to enjoy Scoochie, KD, Charles Cooke, KP and possibly the head man himself.
This senior class has scaled the mountain, this year we get to enjoy the view.
PS – On another note, Swampy Meadows allegedly called multiple moving screens in the UD Twitter pickup basketball game last weekend. Thought you should know.
Austin Peay is coming off an NCAA appearance as a result of getting hot during the Ohio Valley conference tournament as the eighth seed in the league. Picked to finish third in the OVC West, the Governors return three starters from last season’s 18-18 club, with five of the squad’s top seven scorers back in the fold. As with a lot of these types of programs, Austin Peay will rely heavily on perimeter shooting and playing at a fast pace. If UD is steadfast defensively around the perimeter, and takes advantage of Peay’s deficiencies on the glass, this should be a rather comfortable walk in the park for Archie’s boys.
Defensively, the Governors are a Mexican condom — completely useless. Austin Peay allowed 77 points per game a season ago, opponents converted a staggering 46% of their field goal attempts. Dayton, as you know, likes to get after it offensively. On paper, it looks like the Govs are going to have their hands full with the likes of Scoochie Smith, Josh Cunningham and Charles Cooke.
This sentence from Austin Peay’s website caught my eye: “Austin Peay struggled against Sewanee before a late surge from Josh Robinson and Kenny Jones…” I played high-school basketball with a kid that got a scholarship to play at Sewanee (do they no longer call it the University of the South?). He was terrible on and off the court. He had something called Osgood-Schlatter disease and put a “bass cannon” in his car’s trunk. Anyway, if the Governors struggled to outpace Sewanee, they better strap it up tight if they want to hang with the Flyers.
Meet and Greet
Junior point-guard Josh Robinson is going to be Austin Peay’s main offensive threat this season. Robinson is an OVC first-team selection, capable of knocking down shots from behind the arc and distributing the ball with aplomb. After Robinson was moved to the point slot late last season, the Govs scored over 80 points in five of the team’s last seven games. That seems instructive.
Forwards Kenny Jones and Jared Savage will be Peay’s secondary offensive options. Jones is the team’s best rebounder, a steady presence around the rim, a senior that shot 53% from the field a season ago. Savage camps out around the arc where he connected on 40% of his three-point attempts last year.
After the aforementioned trio, things get dicey for Coach Dave Loos’ team. Senior wing John Murry and forward Chris Porter-Bunton will likely get the nod at the other two starting spots for the Govs, with the rest of the lineup a work in progress. Zach Glotta is your standard-issue white guy that fires indiscriminately from three. Look for him to rack up around twenty minutes as Austin Peay’s most promising contributor off the pine. After that, it’s a fucking mystery. Loos has some able-bodied freshmen that will surely get some time against UD, but their ceiling is obviously very low.
Hard to have a lot of numbers to work with when the opponent hasn’t played a game, so this will be very informative. Last year’s Peay team made the NCAA Tournament with one of the worst defenses in the country and relied heavily on free throws to score. The Governors were third in the nation in free-throw rate, shooting one foul-shot for every two shots they took from the field. Much of this was driven by Chris Horton and his seven drawn fouls per 40 minutes. He and Khalil Davis are gone, ostensibly graduated and working a night shift somewhere. These two young men accounted for 84% and 78% of available minutes a season ago.
The Colonials do return Josh Robinson, their second best offensive player from the 15-16 season. Something tells me Austin Peay isn’t exactly a recruiting hot bed where they can easily replace players like Horton and Davis. I would expect the Governors dreadful defense from last year to appear again tonight, however this time it will be tastefully paired with an offense that’s sure to be less effective.
As always, you can follow Nate on the Twitter here.
Dayton has as history of coming out of the gates with a bit of rust (regardless, Archie is 5-0 in home openers), but I already have a good feeling about the attitude, experience and focus of this year’s squad. The four seniors want to go out with a bang and they will look to salt the earth against lesser foes. The Governors have a fantastic nickname, but they are inferior in almost every measurable category. The Flyers are hungry and ready to feast. Austin Peay is the main course. UD rolls, 82-61. Charles Cooke is your leading scorer, Scoochie dishes out eight dimes and John Cunningham has his way inside. Dayton Flyer basketball is back, and for most of us, at just the right time.
Lastly, the LOWD shirt now comes in red for those of you who have requested it.
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.