Yuge win for your Flyers this past weekend, the victory over Saint Louis not only brought the Arch-Baron Cup back to the Gem City for safekeeping, it all but assured (don’t quote me) Dayton’s inclusion in the Friday Four™. If I was a betting man, and the beating I took in a diner bathroom a few days ago is solid evidence that I am, VCU and Davidson would seem to be near locks for the first two spots in the league. After the Rams and Cats, you have a slog of teams battling it out for the other tournament byes — UD, Duquesne, St. Bonaventure and George Mason (Duquesne faces off against Bona on Wednesday, so a little bit of separation between the aforementioned teams will take place this week). I know I have become laser focused on the teams with the double-byes in Brooklyn, but I can guarantee no one is running off four or five straight to cut down the nets in a few weeks. Simply put, there isn’t a team in the league consistent enough to put together that kind of run.
This will all shake out in time, please don’t get too upset about it, dear reader. Dayton still has four very winnable games ahead of them, starting tonight against Massachusetts.
The Mullins Center is a dungeon of doom for the Flyers. Dayton has not tasted sweet victory at UMass during the regular season since 2004, the halcyon days of Ramod Marshall, Big Keef and Sean Finn. It’s a dreary, oftentimes empty, venue that has been a constant thorn in the Flyers’ side. We’ve had many theories as to why the Flyers struggle so mightily against UMass. One theory is the lighting is too goddamn dark in Mullins — apparently the university is trying to keep costs down by only using 70% of the available lights. Other theorists blame the prolonged travel, Amherst is supposedly (I have no interest in looking this up) UD’s furthest roadtrip in the conference, which somehow creates a fog of indifference as the Flyers take the floor against the Minutemen. I have no clue, my best guess is that Dayton, as a whole, has fielded average to slightly above-average college basketball teams and it’s not easy to win conference road games.
UMass is a A10 unicorn in the sense that they have great depth, an astounding eleven players average at least ten minutes per game (this is according to the Minutemen’s game notes, it seems unlikely but let’s just roll with it.) Additionally, Matt McCall’s team has somehow managed to lose at home to Fordham and beat Davidson a few days later. Although UMass has been in plenty of games this season, including a tough loss at Dayton, the Minutemen hae gone 3-12 since losing to Georgia in late December. Watching UMass play this year I’ve come away with the impression that they should be a mid-table team, they seem to have the type of talent to compete with most of the league. Why they haven’t put it together this season is an unsolved mystery, a cold case, many man hours have been put into cracking the case but to no avail.
Fortunately for Dayton, Massachusetts’ chances against the Flyers took a significant knock as it appears Luwane Pipkins, the Minutemen’s leading scorer, will not be available.
News and notes from practice today:
-Luwane Pipkins is likely out tomorrow according to Matt McCall, he tweaked his hamstring again in practice last week — Curtis Cobb is still out, and Khalea Turner-Morris is out for an extended period of time with a knee injury.
— Amin Touri (@Amin_Touri) February 25, 2019
Carl Pierre, he’s still healthy, pissing a strong stream of buckets. Pierre has been scorching hot the past five games, averaging 21 points per contest over the stretch. Pierre hit the game-winner against St. Joe’s this weekend, a moment he surely will be reliving for the rest of his days. Forward Jonathan Laurent, a transfer from Rutgers, looks like he could average around 15 points a game if he got more shots — Pipkins is only a junior, sorry, Jon. Laurent is shooting 47% from three this season, a number that seems ungodly as a committed viewer of Dayton basketball. Unique McLean? Still in Amherst. Big Ol’ Rashaan Holloway? Still playing at UMass.
All you need to know is that Pierre should get up a lot of shots tonight, that’s it. If this is Grant’s only scouting note for the team I think the Flyers will be in good shape.
I like Dayton’s chances in this one, Mullins Curse be damned. UD seems like they have found their groove and you have to question if McCall can get his guys up for this one. Cliches aside, UD dodged a bullet with Pipkins being sidelined. It obviously puts more pressure on Pierre and company to step their offensive games up, which I’m not completely convinced will lead to good things for the Minutemen. I don’t think UMass has enough inside to limit Obi and Cunningham, and that will be the difference in the game. Flyers 74, Minutemen 63.
We got a sock hop at the end of the week against Rhode Island, which I’m told is also the name of a state, so your weekend will be free of Flyer musings. Rejoice, wear red, be lowd.
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.