Well, the last piece of this season’s puzzle will be revealed tomorrow night at UD Arena. After sitting out the fall semester, Dyshawn Pierre is officially eligible to re-enroll at Dayton. There have been enough Instagram posts and sightings around town to know that the Canadian is back in the Gem City.
Everything seems to be pointing to Pierre’s inclusion into the lineup this season, the talk of redshirting him for next year has died down completely. Will it be a slow transition back to the starting lineup; does Pierre come off the bench for the foreseeable future, who loses minutes now that he is back? All those questions, and more!, will be answered in the coming weeks.
There are still two non-conference games to play and eleven calendar days between now and UD’s league opener at Duquesne. That’s a large enough period of time to get DP meaningful minutes and vital practice time before Dayton opens up their Atlantic Ten account this season. It is going to be interesting to say the least — and this is in addition to the ongoing lawsuit Pierre is currently pursuing against the university (does that get settled quietly? Will he cease litigation altogether? Honestly, this is what I’m most focused on).
Regardless of the ramifications, Pierre’s arrival is coming at just the right time. UD has not received consistent production from its offense this season, in fact it seems like one of the more erractic openings to a season Dayton has had on that side of the ball since Archie arrived. Pierre’s inclusion in the lineup will bring stability, experience, allow other guys (primarily Cooke and Pollard) to get more R&R during games, all that good shit.
Pierre will be in the building tonight against Miami, one of Dayton’s bitter “rivals.” Expect LOWD.
[su_pullquote align=”right”]It’s hard to imagine any other Division I school has a roster bulit quite like Miami’s. There are no freshmen. The only junior is a walk-on who transferred from a Division III school that won four games. There are six sophomores on scholarship and a seventh who’s a walk-on. There are seven seniors on scholarship and an eighth who’s a walk-on. — Blue Ribbon[/su_pullquote]The RedHawks currently stand at 6-5 on the season, coming off a dispiriting thirteen point loss to Tennessee Tech. Miami is coming off a 13-19 season and was picked to finish fifth in the MAC’s East division during the preseason. Coach John Cooper returns four starters and a roster chock full of experience.
Although not stylistically similar to previous Miami teams coached by Charlie Coles, the RedHawks offensive profile, on paper, remains the same. Miami’s scoring output hovers around sixty-six points per game; they average sixty-eight possessions per game (currently ranking them 302nd in the country). However, whereas in the past Miami’s no-octane offense was a concerted approach to the game, slowing down the pace of play to limit possessions, the current RedHawks are just a horrendous shooting team.
Miami is shooting just 30.2% from three-point land this year, bad enough to rank 301st in the nation as of this writing. The RedHawks don’t fare much better from the rest of the floor, connecting on a mere 41.1% of their field-goal attempts (placing them at 285th in Division I). The Miami teams of old could hold their own from the perimeter, Cooper’s current roster just doesn’t have that ability right now. The foul-line is the one area of the floor that hasn’t been problematic for the RedHawks, the team is shooting 74.2% from the charity stripe on the season.
The defensive side of the court is where the RedHawks steadfastly attempt to counterbalance their lackluster offensive attack. Teams are only scoring sixty-six points a contest against Miami, shooting 41% from the field and a scant 32% from behind the arc.
One thing has remained constant over the past few decades, Miami will go out of its way to ugly up a basketball game. It’s the one game on the schedule I never want to see due to its sedate pace and slapdash offensive performances. Scheduling the tilt with the RedHawks three days before Christmas was the truly charitable thing to do. Less eyes, less lives ruined.
Tomorrow’s game will be the 132nd meeting between Miami and Dayton with the Flyers holding a 70-61 lead in the all-time series. The RedHawks haven’t won at UD Arena since November 22, 1997 — the infamous Wally Szczerbiak 41 point performance that Miami won in double-overtime.
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Senior point guard Eric Washington is Miami’s offensive catalyst. He leads the team in scoring, assists, steals and both free-throw and three-point percentage. The 5’10” transfer from Presbyterian (that’s a good transfer) is also second on the team in rebounding, corralling 5.1 boards per game.
Joining Washington in the starting backcourt are senior Geovonie McKnight and sophomore Dion Wade. McKnight is the team’s second leading scorer and the most experienced RedHawk on the roster. His career at Miami has been up and down, turnovers a big part of his uneven play since he was a freshman. Although he has continued his struggle with turnovers this fall, he has improved his assist-to-turnover ratio while in Oxford (it’s basically 1:1 this season). Wade is a transfer from Auburn who has got off to a very slow start this season. A starter that averages a mere eleven minutes per game, Wade has not found his outside shot — hitting only 22% of his three point attempts this season (an even more damning number when you consider approximately 85% of his shots have come from behind the arc).
The RedHawks will likely start LJ Livingston and Chris Bryant up front. Livingston is the squad’s best low-post defender and rebounder, currently shooting 72% from the field. Bryant added some girth to his frame but is still not a physical threat down low. His minutes have increased due to his steady play and prowess on the boards.
The bench is spearheaded by sophomores Zach McCormick and Rod Mills, as well as senior guard Willie Moore. McCormick came to Oxford with a reputation for being an offensive threat but has turned into one of Cooper’s better defensive players. Mills bring size and the ability to knock down jumpers to the table. Moore, a transfer from Oregon, never developed into more than a garbage man at Miami and appears to have peaked in his sophomore season.
On offense, Miami is downright terrible. About the only way they score is from the charity stripe where they shoot almost 76% from the line. Not sure if UD’s sixth ranked FT% defense will be able to remain at such lofty heights after this game, surely a mark against Archie as a coach. Most of the RedHawks’ success at the line is driven by Eric Washington; Miami’s lead guard is shooting 86% from the line, while drawing 6.5 fouls over forty minutes.
On the defensive side, Miami is excellent at one aspect of the game that Dayton has struggled with this season: turnovers. The RedHawks are forcing turnovers on 23% of their opponent’s possessions (good for 13th in the nation). It’s not quite to the level of HAVOC, or the new home of HAVOC in Morgantown, as those programs usually have a turnover percentage north of 30%. Luckily Miami is terrible at pretty much everything else, so while they could take advantage of Dayton’s inability to take care of the ball, there’s no reason Dayton shouldn’t handle the Redhawks easily.
Dayton wins a game that is short on fun and full of choppy play. The Flyers make enough unanswered runs to give themselves some breathing room, pulling away from the RedHawks 71-56. My guess is that Dyshawn Pierre will sit on the bench but will not enter the game, giving this situation more life than is necessary. Archie is nothing if not a showman.