I’ve been reminded that the Flyers started the season 2-2 last year. After beating Austin Peay and Alabama, Dayton suffered two close losses at the hands of Saint Mary’s and Nebraska, dropping their winning percentage to .500. I don’t know what to do with this information. While factual, I’m not sure it encapsulates the potential for this season to turn into a flaming shit show.
On a positive note, The DURRELL Davis reclamation project is in full swing. After scoring a career-high 20 points in the loss to Hofstra, UD’s lone senior followed it up with a 25-point performance against Ohio U and then a 27-point effort against Old Dominion. Davis is playing with renewed confidence, a result of having the green light every time he comes down the floor.
DD doesn’t have to worry about getting pulled after missing a few shots this season, he can fire away until his arms get tired. DURRELL is getting to the line, driving to the basket and shooting 52% from the three-point line (he currently sports a 62.9% effective field-goal percentage, a ridiculous stat). I can’t recall a better start to the season. Davis is channeling 2007-08 Brian Roberts, he’s out there gripping and ripping. In a season that has begun with plenty to be desired, DURRELL’s performance the rest of the way might be the most compelling storyline.
Keith Dambrot finally left Akron after thirteen years at the school. The Zips had twelve straight twenty win seasons, went to the NCAA tournament three times and appeared in nine of the last eleven MAC championship games with Dambrot at the helm. Akron set a school record with 27 wins last season. That’s pretty good. With the cupboard pretty bare coming into this season, it was a very convenient time for Dambrot to set sail for a new challenge (you could make the claim that taking the Duquesne job is more of a fool’s errand than anything, but I personally feel like Dambrot will do a fairly decent job with the Dukes program).
Dambrot’s departure caused immediate chaos for Akron, as six underclassmen transferred out of the program. All told, 78% of the scoring and playing time from last season is no longer on the Zips’ roster. Akron hired Illinois washout John Groce, who returns to the MAC with his (well compensated) tail between his legs. Groce inherited a roster with just six scholarship players and spent the month of May scouring the earth for talent. After doling out seven scholarships, the Zips finally were capable of conducting a scrimmage. As a Flyer fan, it puts this year into clearer perspective. No one transferred out of UD and most of the incoming newcomers chose to honor their pledge to the Gem City. So, Akron acts as a bit of a “grass isn’t always greener” reminder for the LOWD Nation. As tough as this season may be, at the very least we didn’t have to completely reset the roster.
Akron has its own version of Durrell Davis in 6’6″ sophomore forward Daniel Utomi. Utomi got out of the gate quickly, he’s averaging 26 points a game while shooting 55% from three. Utomi will basically go the distance for the Zips, jacking like Louis C.K. all night. Jimond Ivey (9.5 ppg/4.5 rpg), Akron’s lone returning starter, is a versatile player who is laying bricks through two games. My hope is Xeyrius and Ivey go toe-to-toe all night. Emmanuel Olojakpoke is the Zips man in the middle, a solid shot-blocker and the team’s top rebounder. Olojakpoke has an amazing stat line — 51 minutes played and only two field-goal attempts (he missed them both).
Torrey Patton and Malcolm Duvivier are Akron’s starting guards. Patton (5.0 ppg/6.0 rpg), a graduate of Trotwood-Madison, was named Ohio’s Division II Co-Player of the Year last season. He’s a guard with some size, a solid rebounder and defender. Duvivier (12.0 ppg/39% 3fg) is a grad-transfer from Oregon State just looking to have some fun and enjoy the splendor that is the Rubber City. Eric Parrish (12.5 ppg/5.5 rpg) is the first guy off the bench, he’s a 6’6″ forward that arrived in Akron at mid-season last year. This kid really wanted to be a Zip I guess. Virshon Cotton (14.5 mpg) grabbed a schollie from Akron in late May, he’s just glad to be here.
- The most interesting story going forward concerns the point-guard slot. After a decent start against Ball State, in which he scored 13 points and dished out 4 assists, John Crosby has once again become a non-factor. His minutes have slipped considerably in just four game — 28 v. Ball State, 23 v. Hofstra, 19 v. Ohio and 18 v. Old Dominion. On the flipside, Jalen Crutcher’s floor time has remained steady over the season’s first two weeks, the freshman is currently averaging 25.5 minutes per game. Although Crutcher has been disappointing offensively, you have to wonder if Anthony Grant has already moved on from Crosby in favor of getting Crutcher right into the fire immediately.
- For those of you that watch Curb Your Enthusiasm, quick question — is there an inside joke with the guy that plays Marty Funkhouser wearing a hideous toupee, or does that dude really wear that in real life? Thanks in advance.
- Jim Jabir’s Florida Atlantic team is off to a 1-2 start, plenty of time left for Coach JJ to coach them up. The weekly physicals that Jabir conducts must be working because the Lady Owls haven’t suffered a single injury yet this season.
Dayton is straight stank right now but the Arena beckons. Flyers win a tight one against Akron, 73-67. Xeyrius Williams fulfills the promise he made to Coach Grant and chooses not to launch any threes against the Zips. Dayton moves into 3-2 and turns its attention to a very athletic Auburn team. Dayton’s next two contests, at home against Auburn and on the road against Mississippi State, give Grant’s squad a chance to make a little headway entering the lackluster portion of their out-of-conference schedule. Stay patient, be normal.
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.