Dayton Fights Off Foreign Invaders

Dayton Fights Off Foreign Invaders

921352_10153907831887372_2326196948515820153_oIn what was the most entertaining game of the season, your Flyers de Dayton took down conference foe George Washington, 77-70. This game was a back and forth battle with neither team willing to concede an inch. The Colonials provided plenty of challenges throughout the night, particularly on the glass, but a return to form by Dyshawn Pierre (and some uncharacteristic foul-shooting by both teams) was the difference.

UD improves to 14-3 on the season, 4-1 in A10 play. More importantly, the victory will more than likely provide Dayton with a vital Top 50 RPI win. George Washington looks to be one of the better teams in the conference and will battle for a tournament spot come March.

GW did not handle Dayton’s defensive pressure, turning the ball over an aberrant fourteen times tonight. It was clear the Colonials missed Joe McDonald’s steady presence and ball distribution. Nevertheless, George Washington picked up the slack from behind the three-point line, connecting on 50% (11-of-22) of their shots from long range. Although Tyler Cavanaugh led the way from outside, the Wake Forest transfer accounted for 4 of GW’s threes, every single player that registered substantial minutes, save Yuta Watanabe, converted at least one three-pointer against the Flyers. Every time Dayton put a little run together it seemed like someone from George Washington would knock down a three to stop UD’s momentum.

In the end it was a driving layup by Charles Cooke, and the ensuring foul shot on the foul, that put the game on ice. Cooke’s conventional three-point play gave UD a six-point lead with just 46 seconds remaining in the game. Paul Jorgensen, who had a game he’d probably like to forget about, hit a desperation three to cut the lead to three. However, four straight free-throws, by Pierre and Scoochie Smith, were the final nail in GW’s coffin.

There was a great moment in gambling history at the very end of the game as George Washington’s Patricio Garino was fouled shooting a three from the left corner by Kyle Davis. The spread, depending on your book, was anywhere from UD -5 to UD -6. With UD up seven, Garino had the ability to ruin someone’s night from the foul line. Instead, the Argentine cowardly missed all three attempts, locking up the cover for the home team. As we all know, good teams win, great teams cover. Dayton was great tonight.

George Washington pissed the game away with their lackadaisical ball possession and dreadful foul-shooting. GW, coming into tonight’s contest as one of the nation’s better foul-shooting teams, went just 5-of-15 from the charity stripe, leaving plenty of points on the floor. UD was also able to take advantage of George Washington’s sloppy play, scoring 22 points off of Colonial turnovers. Lonergan’s club failed in two key facets of the game that they usually excel in. Let’s credit Dayton’s ball pressure and the LOWD from the crowd.

From a personnel point of view, Dyshawn Pierre finally looked assertive on the offensive end, operating as the team’s focal point on a majority of UD’s possessions. The team’s lone senior was aggressive, continually looking for his shot, largely from behind the arc, and creating mismatches on the low block. DP was the best player on the floor by a mile tonight and hopefully this is the performance that marks his reemergence as one of the best players in the A10. Pierre dropped a season-high 26 points, hit five threes and was a perfect 7-of-7 from the line. His scoring will alleviate some of the pressure on Charles Cooke and provides Dayton with an exceptional rebounder, his continued production will play a large part in how far this team can go.

12512800_10153907754762372_8264652679943274988_nBig Chief McElvene was very active as well. The freshman snapped out of his funk, racking up twelve points and six boards. Dayton’s big man was tenacious defensively, blocking two shots and altering several of GW’s drives to the bucket. The color commentator, who is the brother of a girl Barack Obama used to fuck, pointed out that McElvene is a weapon due to his foul-shooting acumen. The 6’11” scholar is currently shooting 84% from the foul-line this season, a fact I don’t think you guys have made enough noise about.

Charles Cooke is Charles Cooke. Even when his shot isn’t falling he is good for a big shot or two a game. Tonight was no different, as his three-point play late in the game provided the winning bucket and his three-pointer with around seven minutes to play stemmed a GW run and tied the game at 61. Cooke finished the game with fifteen points.

Scoochie Smith continues to struggle shooting the ball, the Flyer point-guard has fizzled offensively in conference play, shooting a mere 29.7% from the floor over the past five games. Smith does sport a 4.33:1 assist-to-turnover ratio in UD’s Atlantic Ten contests. Scooch has noticeably relied on his perimeter shooting, perhaps it is time for him to penetrate more in order to get easier looks.

Kendall Pollard’s pairing with Dyshawn Pierre was one of the more anticipated aspects of the Canadian’s return to the Gem City. Unfortunately, Pollard can’t seem to stay on the court long enough to provide Dayton with what could be the most talented frontcourt in the conference. Since coming back from an Achilles strain, Pollard has experienced foul trouble, playing just twenty-one minutes a game since his return to health. We have yet to see Pollard, Scooch, DP and Cooke firing on all cylinders in the same game (and odds are we won’t). Dayton will be a very dangerous team if their core four are performing up to their usual standards.

Lastly, it appears Archie Miller has finally settled on a rotation he is happy with. Scooch, Kyle Davis, Cooke, Pollard and Pierre seems to be the starting lineup going forward. Big Steve comes off the bench to challenge opponents inside and DURRELL (hopefully) provides another weapon from beyond the arc. John Crosby has proven that he can effectively run the point and give Scoochie some much needed rest. Ten minutes a game is all Archie needs from the freshman backup. It appears that Mikesell and Sam Miller will be used as stopgaps when needed, which of the two play will be dictated by the opponent’s style of play – it doesn’t appear Archie has any interest in playing the two Caucasians in the same game unless it is well in hand.

This was a key week for UD, two home games against quality league opponents. Dayton acquitted itself nicely against both Davidson and George Washington and figures to be the league favorite from here on out. The Flyers head out on the road, with its usual speedbumps, next week to take on Saint Bonaventure Tuesday night (UD always has issues winning in Olean) and then head to the Bronx to take on an emerging Fordham team on Sunday afternoon. Remain vigilant, remain LOWD.

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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.

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