In the early 1960s when Harry Baujan and Sir Thomas Blackburn went to Rev. Raymond Roesch, they had an idea. The Dayton basketball program was seeing unprecedented success and it was becoming more clear that a stable home was needed for what was becoming a growing beast in an important era of college basketball. They needed somewhere warm, a place with cozy metal seats and simple concourses. They needed an arena with dark rafters that allow you to get lost in basketball on a cold evening in December in the Gem City. This arena needed the smell of roasted nuts to fill the air, it had to be somewhere to call home when you spend your last dollars at the casino and season tickets are all you have when your wife kicks you out of the house. You see, fans of the Fyler, Harry and Tom knew before you and I (the common people) that the city of Dayton and the men’s basketball program needed a place that welcomed them back with open arms each and every time they would inevitably go on the road and lay a stinker. On December 6th, 1969 they opened that exact place, and they called it UD Arena.
Tonight’s showing by the Dayton Fylers wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t a great effort, it wasn’t even necessarily fun to watch. But in December, this is why the University of Dayton invites unsuspecting victims into the Decibel Dungeon. Because when all is said and done, the red and blue will figure out a way to win for the Sweaters who welcomed them back from the mean streets of Chicago.
The game this evening started out much like the last Fylers game, with the difference being that Vanderbilt’s offense was just downright atrocious compared to the 40-point effort we watched last Saturday. Despite Dayton’s meager 12 points in the first twelve minutes, Vanderbilt couldn’t get the lead, due to their own poor shooting and overall offensive inadequacies. If you were late to the game trying to figure out how to watch on Facebook Live, Dayton limped their way to a 19-13 edge with seven minutes to go, just in time for Vanderbilt to rattle off an 8-0 run to take the lead. The buzzer beater at the first-half horn by Payton Willis was the cherry on top of another lackluster Fyler first-half effort, and the home boys went into the break trailing 23-21.
The main takeaway from the first half was simply the offense, in which there was none. Dayton again played sound on-ball defense, executed switches effectively and forced tough shots. They just cannot seem to get it going early offensively. While UD was much better at getting open looks early on tonight, none of them would fall. Such is life in Trump’s America.
Luckily (as with most games this season) the second half was all Fylers. A few more Vandy missed shots paved the way for an 8-0 run from the good guys and they would not look back after that. The 8-0 run was due in part to the player of the game, Chip Mikesell(!), who was outstanding tonight and took a bad effort in Chicago and turned it into a double-double in front of the Sweaters.
Mikesell double-double. How about that? 10 pts. 10 boards right now. #Dayton
— Michael Purves (@michaelpurves) December 22, 2016
Getting a double double is never easy, even when the opponent misses 35 3s. Great job by Mikesell.
— Showey D (@ShoweyD) December 22, 2016
In the second half, Dayton pushed the pace, kept shooting, and found enough rhythm to keep the ‘Dores away when they forced the issue. The one glaring weakness tonight was UD’s inability to put Vanderbilt down for good. The most obvious example came with five minutes left after UD extended the lead to 10. The Sweaters pulled their asses up from their seats for the patented “get a big stop” standing ovation, and UD rewarded them by committing three fouls in 16 seconds, surrendering three quick points to slow the game and get the lead back to 7. The Fylers still held that 7-point lead at the last media timeout, but good free throw shooting (15-19) and continued offensive inadequacy from Vanderbilt would be the end we were looking for in the Gem City. Despite the heroics of Matthew Fisher-Davis’ 25-point effort, he was not able to drag his sorry team through the mud quickly enough to get a W. Fylers 68, ‘Dores 63.
The Hickory Bar-B-Q Hot Takes of the Night:
Let’s get the obvious out of the way, a fact that I alluded to earlier: Ryan Mikesell enjoyed his very best game in a Fyler uniform, finishing with 12 points and 11 rebounds, which included a couple big treys.
You have to love Chip’s ability to put Chicago behind him and come out with a great effort at home. Not only was he great offensively, but he played strong D against bigger dudes down low and got the job done. Vanderbilt doesn’t really have a low post presence, but Chip made sure it stayed that way.
Charles Cooke finished with a steady 19 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the foul-line. I spent about half the game wishing he would just take the ball to the rack, as he continues to be the best player on the floor each night.
Scoochie had one of those forgettable nights you’re just going to have from time to time during a long season. He shot 1-of-12 from the floor, 1-of-5 from three, and finished with a line of 6pts-5reb-4 TOs. It’s great for one of these types of games to take place and Dayton still racks up a W. Expect a 20pt bounce back effort from Dayshon on Friday night.
Naturally the most encouraging thing to see tonight was our boy DURRELL. The catch and shoot was back, and it resulted in a totally acceptable 2-of-5 from downtown and eight points. No, it wasn’t a stellar game from Durrell, but he continued to provide consistency on the defensive end, had a great steal that lead to a good transition bucket, and was finally able to positively contribute on the offensive end. To me that seems like a step in the right direction. There’s plenty of time for DURRELL to get things figured out, let’s hope he’s headed there. Maybe have him watch videos of Klay Thompson on repeat? I dunno.
X-Man Williams got himself six points and a block in 14 minutes of floor time. There wasn’t much need for him and Sam when Chip is playing the way he did tonight. With that said, X seems to be capitalizing on his minutes every night now and that’s encouraging as well.
Very soon John Crosby will need to grab some Elmer’s from Trey Landers….
…who stays glued to the bench.
In the end, the trip back to the Sweater Centre treated us to exactly what the forefathers envisioned when they dreamed up this magical haven for hoops. It doesn’t have to be pretty; it just has to be a win. The Fylers kept the train moving tonight, bounced back from a rough outing over the weekend and improved to 8-3. They will finish the non-con slate against a pitiful, awful, embarrassingly bad VMI team on Friday evening back in The Arena. You have to have better things to do than watch that one, you just have to.
ALSO THIS IS GOOD NEWS:
Kostas Antetokounmpo will practice for first time tomorrow for Dayton, Archie Miller said.
— David Jablonski (@DavidPJablonski) December 22, 2016
Keep wearing red, keep being LOWD. More room for hot takes down below, of course. I will take the next two days to decide if the VMI game is worth a full recap.