I was going to start this recap with a witty takeaway from the game on Saturday evening, I even thought about making a paragraph-long fan fiction like Blackburn does from time to time, but instead, I’m just going to cut through the bullshit and get right to what needs to be discussed: We are five games into the Dayton Flyers 2017-18 season and this is DURRELL’s team. Plain and fucking simple.
Before you jump to conclusions and bark in my ear about what an amazing start to the season we have seen from Josh Cunningham, hear me out:
There is no other way to describe UD’s first half on Saturday night at The Arena other than uninspiring. The Flyers came out slow and found themselves down 7-0 early. Each run in the first twenty minutes by the good guys was met with an equal or greater run by the Zips shortly thereafter, UD went into the half down five, and honestly it should have been more. Despite Akron’s lack of size and strength down low, UD struggled to get the ball in the post and instead settled for dicking around on the perimeter (shades of Brian Gregory) and forcing up a plethora of bad looks. Our aforementioned senior was shut down. He scored zilch in the first twenty minutes, only attempting three field goals, which was truly a credit to the game plan Akron brought into The Arena after watching some film on DURRELL’s dominance in Charleston.
Naturally, I sat down to begin the second half in the mostly-vacated students section and wondered where DURRELL had gone. I was not ready to believe the first four games were a mirage. Over the years, my favorite part about being in the 100 level of the student’s section is the interaction with the opposing bench on a nightly basis. Everything from trash talk to mockery to a Charlotte player admitting to me in 2010 that he fouled out because he sucked that night and belonged on the bench. On a relatively stoic evening like the one we saw on Saturday, if you are within fifteen rows of the court, you are a part of the game as well. Wily veteran Archdeacon even wrote about it after the game in the DDN.
Something must have been said to DURRELL by the Akron bench. Hes chirping at them HARD. made the last trey and then directly reminded em who's team it was in Dayton.
— Sully (@sullymygoodname) November 26, 2017
So as the story goes, our boy DURRELL came out blazing hot in the second half Saturday night, scoring eight of the Flyers first thirteen second-half points en route to an absolute shellacking. UD outscored the Zips 41-23 in the second frame thanks to twelve points from DURRELL on 4-for-6 shooting (2-of-2 3pt) to go along with 2-of-2 from the line. After the second made-three-pointer by DURRELL early in the second, he made a turn to the Akron bench and told them to call a timeout. While doing so, he gestured to his shoulders, letting them know whose team it was in Dayton, Ohio. I was fired up, I was also terrified. 2017-18 will indeed be the year of DURRELL, whether you like it or not.
So while this team struggles to find their identity as youngsters; Josh Cunningham seems willing to play the role of qualified bucket-getter alongside the boy DURRELL. JC was unstoppable down low against the weak Akron front court, finishing with 37 minutes despite foul trouble to go along with 20 points and 16 rebounds. As we continue to learn more about this team, what is known is that the Flyers will not be going very far this season without contributions from DURRELL and Josh nightly. Don’t kid yourselves.
— Flyer Faithful (@Flyer_Faithful) November 26, 2017
So while I’ve bored you with a little talk about who will be leading this team based on the five games we’ve seen thus far, it’s absolutely impossible not to wonder how tight the leash was applied to DURRELL from UD’s previous head coach over the last 5 years. DURRELL shoots freely, moves freely, and Anthony Grant has shown an obvious tendency to get him involved in the offense. It just makes you wonder what was missing all these years. Some coaches aren’t a fit for every player, we can leave it at that.
All in all, this was a damn good win for a Flyer team that is still operating on its proverbial training wheels. Midway through the first half it was obvious UD would need to work the ball into the paint to win, and Anthony Grant made the necessary adjustments in the second half to get it fixed with a short bench. It’s a nice little sentence to write, but in the end, Akron just isn’t that fucking good, so curb your enthusiasm and simply enjoy the fact that AG’s team is adapting on the fly and making changes, that’s enough for now.
Let’s get to the normal things that we need to point out: What was cool? What was not so cool?
What was cool: Matej is a legitimate tool on the offensive side of the ball, he’s lengthy enough that he can affect the rebounding scene, and is hard to guard on the perimeter.
What’s not cool: He’s not hard to guard anywhere else and he can’t play any defense…yet. If X-man stays out for any length of time we’re going to be seeing shades of 2015.
What was cool: Jalen Crutcher looked more comfortable with distribution than ever and finished with 8 assists.
What’s not cool: The ongoing tug of war between Crutcher and Crosby. UD’s best attack this year is figuring out how these guys can complement each other 50/50 in minutes and contribution, while making sure the patented Crosby-jump-through-the-lane is scrapped from the playbook entirely. John was back to his old tricks, turning in 5 assists to go with 3 turnovers and 3 points.
What was cool: Kostas really is one lanky bastard who can disrupt everything in the lane from shots to rebounds to passing.
What’s not cool: He’s probably going to be in foul trouble more often than not.
What was cool: Jordan Davis can shoot the ball. If he is making people respect the perimeter on him it’s going to open up a lot of opportunities for UD’s offense. He had his best night in a Flyer uniform to date, finishing with 34 minutes on the floor, racking up 14 points and 3 rebounds. He looks like a guy trying to prove he belongs on the floor for the long haul.
What is always cool: walk-ons getting playing time. Jack Westerfield missed his chance at stardom. You only get a few, son.
Summary: while Akron is admittedly not good at all and the Flyers have yet to beat a quality team, this win was encouraging. I didn’t mention the Akron performance really at all because it hardly matters. UD avoided a home upset, handled their business, and the names on the box score for the Zips will be only a forgotten memory by 7pm ET on Wednesday evening when the Flyers welcome the Auburn Tigers to The Arena. The students will be back so it’s safe to say things will be back to LOWD by then. Wear red accordingly.