Remember when Dayton beat Butler in the Bahamas and it breathed life into the fan base? That was fun wasn’t it? Since that win over the Bulldogs, the Dayton Flyers are 1-5 with their lone win being over Detroit Mercy. Despite the Browns winning on Saturday the universe still found a way to disappoint me on a Sunday.
Now, has the competition been stiffer than a geriatric at your local pool? Yes. Auburn, Virginia, Oklahoma, and Mississippi St are noticeably stiff. On Sunday, Dayton finally played a team of a similar level to them in Tulsa in front of roughly 500 people at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. It was a game that Dayton was favored, and a game that Dayton should have, and needed, to win. They didn’t. So has been the story of the 2018-19 season to this point.
The curse of the Tulsa Golden Hurricane continued for the Dayton Flyers as they under-performed and will now have to survive the rest of the non-con schedule with 1 (semi) quality win. As you can clearly tell, I am pretty damn frustrated with how Dayton performed against TU and it is a frustration that has been building and has finally reached a point where I need to lash out. So let’s not waste anymore time, let’s get into this disaster of a basketball game.
Chip Mikesell accounted for Dayton first points of the evening when he split a pair of free throws to go up 1-0. It was the only lead Dayton would enjoy in the first half. Tulsa started white hot from 3, going 5/7 from long distance (including one that shouldn’t have counted but i’ll get to that). The Hurricanes sprinted out to a 27-13 lead and forced Anthony Grant to use his first timeout. He wouldn’t use another one of those until under two minutes to go in the game. Dayton, to their credit, scratched and clawed their way back into the game. A steal and a fast break tomahawk dunk by Obi Toppin with 7 minutes to go in the half sprung Dayton on a 17-3 run to get the score tied at 30 heading into the locker room with momentum. Dayton finished the first half shooting 38% from the field and 33% from the 3 point line…then came the 2nd half.
The initial 4 minute period of the 2nd half was pretty back and forth between the two teams. Dayton made a conscious effort to get the ball inside to the big fellas and it was paying dividends as Obi and Josh were having their way in the paint. Then disaster struck. Obi and Josh both picked up their 3rd fouls in quick succession forcing Anthony Grant to take both out of the game. At the 13:09 mark Tulsa went on a quick burst of a run to go up 8 51-43 with Obi and Josh on the bench until Cunningham returned.
Then, Tulsa began getting whatever they wanted at the rim. Obi picked up his 4th and the big guys couldn’t be nearly as aggressive down low due to the foul trouble and Tulsa began getting layup after layup, leading to a 10-point Tulsa cushion with 2:43 to go. Dayton put one last charge together and cut the game to 3 on a Jalen Crutcher triple, making the score 68-65. Dayton would get the stop they were looking for and got a great look in the corner for Mikesell that went begging. Tulsa would ice the game at the free throw line which led us to the final of 72-67.
Okay, let’s get to the nitty gritty.
First: the good. It was really only two guys. Josh Cunningham and Obi Toppin. Between the two they combined for 28 points on 11-18 shooting and 6-7 from the FT line (Obi did the bulk of the work there going 5-6). Josh finally got double digit attempts and that needs to continue for the rest of the season. There is zero excuse for him not to be attempting AT LEAST 10, (preferably i12-15) shots per game. He played well when he was on the court, unfortunately, he was plagued by foul trouble.
Obi Toppin continues to show that his potential is out of this world. His feel for the game is incredible for someone as athletic as he is. His shooting form looks pretty darn good from my point of view and the sky’s the limit as to how good this kid can really be in a Flyers uniform. Another positive from this game was the free throw shooting, the Flyers finished 14-17 good for 82% hopefully that kind of FT shooting can continue as we progress through the rest of the season. Crutcher finished with 14 points and 3 assist on 5-15 shooting (4-11 from 3). I love Crutcher, he has balls the size of Texas, he just needs to become a little more efficient so I would give Jalen a middle thumbs performance today.
Okay buckle up, time for the bad, and there is a lot to dissect in this section.
Jordan Davis needs to figure his shit out and quick. He finished with 7 points on 2-7 shooting and 1-4 from three, and his three misses weren’t even in the right zip code they were missed so horribly. He had a steal and then his brain shut off and he proceeded to turn the ball over which would have created even more momentum for the Flyers. I don’t know what his deal is, but it needs to be rectified and fast. Him being in the starting lineup over Obi Toppin is becoming more and more puzzling as the games go by. He is now shooting 39% from the field and 25% from 3.
Dayton finished the day shooting 5-23 from 3 (2-14 in the 2nd half) They are now shooting 33% from deep this season on 19 (!!) attempts a game. That number needs to be between 12-15 per game. Dayton finally made an effort to get the ball inside but once they began trailing, fell right back into their old ways. Dayton never quit in this game, that is true, they didn’t. However, that mentality is all well and good when you play the Auburn’s and the Virginia’s of the world. It isn’t when you are playing Tulsa. “They didn’t give up” isn’t good enough when you are playing a team like Tulsa.
Dayton is now 0-5 in games when “They didn’t quit” and at some point that needs to translate to wins. I’ll let all of you draw your own conclusions on Anthony Grant, but for me, you need to start putting players in the best positions to win these close games. You need to start proving to me that you can win on neutral sites and on the road, because in the future, if Dayton wants to get back to the big dance in the future you will need to win close games eventually. Tournament teams win on the road, and Dayton is not a tournament team as of this writing, so this season would be a great time to start getting these players acclimated to winning those tight ones away from the friendly confines of The Arena.
The officiating in this game was atrocious, much like the game before it. It didn’t cost Dayton the game or anything, and I am not using it as an excuse. I’m just stating that this officiating crew was objectively bad. They weren’t consistent. There were times when players would get hammered and they would be no call and other times when someone would breathe on another player and they would blow the whistle. The most egregious of the officiating errors came in the first half. Tulsa bricked a three, Toppin, who mistimed his jump for the rebound got his hand caught in the net AFTER the ball had already went off the rim.
For some, unknown, asinine reason the zebras awarded Tulsa with 3 points! I just don’t understand how that can be. Sully called it the worst call he has ever seen and I find it hard to argue with his logic. Also, poor Frankie Pollicelli, the kid was red shirted for a reason. He checked in when the big fellas were in foul trouble and was a glaring net-negative on both ends of the floor. I understand that we are short on depth but this kid looks like a deer in headlights every time he steps on the floor. I also understand this does not come as a surprise to anyone.
Dwayne Cohill needs to play more minutes. Landers needs to stop shooting 3’s (He was 0-5) and Mikesell needs to make the open ones when he has them. I have a lot of problems with this team right now, guys.
Okay, rant over. Dayton is back in action on Wednesday against Western Michigan. Dayton can’t afford to lose anymore of the non-con games, and preferably, they win these handily to get some sort of momentum going into conference play. Blackburn will have the recon later in the week. Until then ware red, and be LOWD.