Much like George Mason, the recap for Davidson is never filled with much hatred or trash talking, mainly because this was only the sixth meeting between the teams, and only the third since 1973. Needless to say, UD and Davidson fans find it hard to give a shit about one another, their addition being a result of league expansion three seasons ago. On paper the shoe fits when these teams meet, with the only glaring difference in the institutions being that Davidson is just fine with being a rich white kid school and nothing more. You have to respect that level of self-acceptance.
Blackburn often talks about the “boredom theory” in regards to these February games, and for me, it goes something like this:
“I hate that we have to care about this game tonight.”
“Alright, let’s just not lose and get out of here, I don’t want to get too invested.”
“Ok, I’m starting to get nervous, we really can’t lose this game.”
“Goddamnit, we’re gonna lose.”
“No, I think we’re going to win.”
“SCOOCHIE PULLED HIS BALLS OUT AGAIN, WE CAN NEVER BE BEATEN!!!!”So the story goes this time of year. I spend the entire game day telling myself I don’t need to care about the game, then 10 seconds into the second half I sweated through my entire shirt and the whole bar is wondering why a couple of red-clad bozos are screaming at a television by themselves in a corner. (This is only kind of a joke because this happened to me on Friday)
If you have even a scrap of basketball knowledge in your brain, or have watched a single minute of Davidson hoops this season, you know there is only one game plan to beat the Wildcats: you stop (read: slow down) Gibbs and Aldridge, and let the other warm bodies on the floor beat you. UD didn’t exactly follow the plan early on. The first half saw the Cats execute their game to perfection, and UD was smoked time and time again from high entry passes to the nearest cutter. Give credit where it is due, Gibbs/Aldridge are absolute ballers. At the half, Gibbs had plopped in 9 (all from 3) and Aldridge added 17.
Luckily, the expected porous defense of Davidson was leaky enough to give up 46 to your hometown Flyers, mainly due to UD getting the free throw line just about every other time down the court, or so it seemed. Dayton would finish the game with 45 free throw attempts, easily a season-high. At the break it felt like UD should’ve been down 10, but Gibbs wasn’t red hot, the Flyers were fairly consistent from the line, and the supporting cast of Cagers were contributing from every angle, with eight of the good guys getting on the score sheet.
The second half can effectively be broken up into two pieces that separated themselves at the 7:30 mark, with Davidson up 11 at 71-60. The Flyers offense was downright anemic in the first 12 minutes, and was only able to muster 14 points. Gibbs got himself going, and it looked as though it was not to be for our boys. Then the seniors took over. I know you came for the Scoochie Balls talk, but the game does not get to overtime if not for the heroics on both ends of the floor by Kendall Pollard. In the last 7:30, he tallied 7 points and 5 boards to go along with 2 steals, and that was just on offense. On defense, I imagine the conversation from Master Archibald went like this:
“Don’t let Aldridge touch the goddamn ball”
The pep talk resulted in just 2 points for the Davidson big man in the closing minutes of the second frame, a jumper that he sunk to take a short lead with just under a minute to play. To put it mildly, KP was absolutely phenomenal. There’s just no other word for it. UD desperately needed someone to step up on the defensive side, and two-five was ripe for the challenge. All the credit in the world is due to Kendall for his effort on Friday. He finished with 18pts, 12 boards and 4 steals. His single best game of the season by a wide margin.
With Scoochie on the bench in foul trouble, John Crosby did enough to fill in competently, and the seniors took it the rest of the way. They would erase an eleven point deficit in the final 7 minutes, and set the stage for a wild overtime. Just about every time you said to yourself “this has to go in,” it would, and we found ourselves tied at 74 after forty minutes.
I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to write about OT, but let’s start here: when the game is on the line at any point during the remainder of the season, the entire city of Dayton and every living, breathing Flyer fan on this earth knows who gets the ball. Scoochie Smith is without a doubt the most clutch player to don a Flyers uniform in my lifetime. We have watched him go from scrawny freshman backup, to full-blown, real-deal college basketball assassin. Scoochie scored the first ELEVEN FUCKING POINTS for the Flyers, and was the only person in a UD uniform to make a field-goal during the free basketball period.
This was what I had to say about Scoochie while his heroics were taking place…
I think that says it all. After Scoochie dragged his giant sack across the floor at Belk Arena during those final five, the Cats had no choice but to put their tail between their legs and head home. They had heard tales eulogizing the balls of Scoochie, but seeing is believing. As we head into March, prayers on top of blessings that we have this man on our team. He might just be able to do this again in a few weeks when we need another game pulled out of our ass. Never leave Scoochie, you beautiful bastard.
Alright dudes, because I took an extra day to write this one, I’ll make the takes short, here’s what I have:
X-man is only the “X-factor” because it’s convenient on paper. His contributions will be necessary moving forward and he has really turned into a solid big man down low.
Kyle Davis continues to be fantastic off the bench. Shades of Vee Sanford. That guy did some cool stuff for us coming off the bench, didn’t he?
John Crosby and DURRELL did just enough to keep the engine running while Scoochie had to sit. That’s really all we can ask. No one is asking John to put up 12 every night, although it will always be welcome when he does.
Cunningham is still a step slow but he looks like he should be a solid piece for us in March. This is good news.
So the stage is set, my friends of the Flyer. With the VCU loss to URI on Saturday, Wednesday will be for all the marbles in the Atlantic 10 conference (probably). UD will clinch their first outright conference championship in program history (which only technically goes back to 1995 when we joined the A10 and were an independent squad before that time, traversing the Midwest plains looking for checks). If you aren’t LOWD by now, we don’t need you anyways. Come ready on Wednesday.
If you didn't think this season was special already, the Dayton Flyers just completed their first undefeated month of February since 1971.
— Sully (@sullymygoodname) February 25, 2017