UD, unexpectedly, woke up ranked #25 in the AP poll on Monday afternoon. After falling off the radar somewhat, the Flyers put together a strong enough showing since the Chattanooga loss, supposedly, to warrant inclusion in the nation’s top 25 teams.
Archie was asked about it on Monday afternoon. This is what your boy had to say about it:
I think it’s obvious from this clip that Archie honestly had no idea UD was ranked until asked about it. Honestly, between writing papers for Big Steve and making sure Dyshawn Pierre stays at least 20 feet from every white girl under 150 pounds, he likely doesn’t have time to monitor such trival things.
Which is to say this, yes, college basketball polls are dumb. Yes, college basketball polls are arbitrary and suffer from immediacy bias. However, as we always point out, having a number next to your name as a mid-major program is YUGE. Just that little “25” next to Dayton adds legitimacy and, dare I say it, name brand awareness.
Of course, as Dayton fans you already know that national rankings are usually the kiss of death for this program. It seems every time the Flyers get ranked an imminent disaster is just around the corner. So, all I want this time around is for UD to remain ranked for at least two weeks. That doesn’t seem too much to ask.
The games over the next two weeks are manageable:
Jan 6th vs. UMass
Jan 9th at La Salle
Jan 12th vs. Davidson
Jan 15th vs. George Washington
Three home games, including a crucial tilt with George Washington — which may turn out to be the most important game left on UD’s schedule. The Flyers don’t really hit a landmine until they visit Rhode Island on February 12th. Dayton should be fairly significant favorites in every game up to that point.
Bottom line, Dayton has a great opportunity to remain in the top 25 for weeks to come. It’s the one thing Archie has yet to produce, a team that is a fixture in the polls for the majority of the season. It all starts with a victory over Massachusetts tomorrow night.
UMass is 8-5 on the year, 1-0 in A10 play, headed toward another mediocre season in Amherst (to be fair, Massachusetts is just two seasons removed from an NCAA appearance). The Minutemen return two starters from last year’s team, Cady Lalanne and Maxie Esho have finally moved on, a squad that finished seventh in the conference. Derrick Gordon, college basketball’s version of Michael Sam, decided to spend his graduate senior year at Seton Hall, where he is currently languishing away in South Orange.
Given last season’s departures, Derrick Kellogg’s club has shifted its offensive focus away from their frontcourt and returned to a three-guard oriented attack. UMass relies on its triumvirate of starting guards for around fifty points per contest. The Minuteman starting guards are experienced and interchangeable as far as their skill sets are concerned. Massachusetts’ backcourt is averse to turning the ball over, they possess the third-lowest turnover rate in the league (behind Davidson and George Washington), and are fairly unsusceptible to ball pressure.
The Minutemen guard the three-point line like their lives depend on it, opponents are shooting only 28.3% against UMass from deep, currently ranking tenth in the nation in opponent three-point percentage. Additionally, teams are getting just 24% of their scoring output from three, one of the lowest rates in the nation. Offensively, Massachusetts can shot the three a bit as well – Kellogg’s squad is currently connecting on 36.7% of their shots from behind the arc.
Kellogg lacks a deep roster this season, a facet of the program that has been critical to UMass’ success since his arrival seven years ago. The Minutemen bench accounts for only 30% of the squad’s 200 available minutes per game. Massachusetts pushes the ball up the floor quickly on offense, averaging just 16.2 seconds per possession. Their pressure defense results in quick possessions for their opposition as well, commonly ending in easy buckets for the Minutemen’s adversaries.
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Trey Davis is UMass’ most well-rounded weapon on offense, capable of playing either the one or two. The senior guard leads the team in scoring, a heady player who finds way to get to the hole and charity stripe. Davis will have the ball in his hands when the game is on the line and is capable of creating his own shot or finding the open man. Sophomore Donte Clark is having a tremendous season, picking up the scoring slack left by the exodus of UMass’ frontcourt. Clark can score from all over the floor and is arguably the best perimeter shooter on the team. Jabarie Hinds gets the majority of the team’s minutes at the point-guard slot, the West Virginia transfer has improved greatly on last season’s somewhat disappointing performance. Hinds is UMass’ best distributor and defender, as well as having developed into one of the team’s better three-point shooters.
The Minutemen start Zach Coleman and Rashaan Holloway in the frontcourt. The two underclassmen get the nod at the forward slots due to the lack of size and experience on UMass’ roster. Coleman is decent around the hoop but fancies himself a bit of a perimeter player in spite of his 16% shooting percentage from behind the arc. Holloway is one of the bigger players in the country, a wide body (grossly overweight) that cannot stay out of foul trouble.
Antwan Space, CJ Anderson and Seth Berger are Kellogg’s three main contributors off the pine. Space is a graduate transfer from Texas A&M, a big man who is having an extremely productive swan song in Amherst. Anderson, a sophomore guard, is off to an impressive start shooting the ball this season. Berger is likely the best Jewish player in the Atlantic Ten.
UMass doesn’t appear to lean spectacularly on any one way of scoring or preventing teams from scoring. The most notable thing is how much of the team is driven by the trio of Trey Davis, Donte Clark and Jabari Hinds. All three play more than 75% of minutes, have high usage rates and each takes more than 25% of the team’s shots when they’re on the floor.
55% of the Minutemen’s scoring comes from the SG and PG positions. These guys, man. As a reference, the national average is 33%. Given UMass is below average on defense in pretty much everything besides 3pt % allowed, which is more or less in the hands of the opposition’s shooters, and average in pretty much every other category on offense, the Flyers should roll to victory as long as they can slow down this back court trio.
Does Archie Miller ever lose conference openers? I don’t know, honestly, I’m really asking. Actually, yes, yes he does. Miller is 2-2 in Atlantic Ten home openers. What does this have to do with tomorrow night? Absolutely nothing. Flyers win a close one, 72-68. Dyshawn Pierre looks like the Dyshawn Pierre of old — scoring 17 and grabbing 8 rebounds.