After witnessing a humbling defeat, we here at Blackburn Review always find it best to take the full weekend to digest what went down. It’s good for the soul. Blackburn is the kind of guy who would heal your pain with a story or two about his drunken escapades years ago with a stripper in Richmond named Tori (just a coincidence). Mr. Vines prefers a bottle of whiskey and a late night bar to tell you how he feels about John Crosby. We all have our ways of coping. I’m going to skip the BS today because the game made me sad and made you sad but now it’s time to look forward to the conference home stretch and Rose Hill Gym on Tuesday. Before we do, here’s what went down:A group of like 10 kids camped outside the Siegel Center for some reason, and nonsense aside, the atmosphere looked and sounded great from the jump. The Flyers were able to avoid the normal rigmarole of playing like total garbage in the first 10 minutes and we saw the game tied 16-16 from some good back and forth early on. In the first half the Flyers were able to stretch VCU with quick in-and-out passing and it led to more space on the floor to execute. Credit where it’s due to Will Wade for making the necessary adjustments to tighten that up later in the night.
The Flyers played sound defense for the first 15 minutes of the opening half. An unbelievable block by KD was followed up with an alley-oop to KP, and another dunk for the chubby fella a few minutes later would bring the Flyers lead to 10 with 5 minutes left. You started to get the feeling UD would be able to control the pace, but VCU counter-punched quickly, the home crowd got behind them, and they rattled off an 8-2 run to close the gap to 33-31 at the half.
The second half felt like the Flyers were running uphill the entire way, and Justin Tillman was mostly to blame. Tillman whipped that ass down low all night, to the tune of 18pts, 9reb, including 5 on the offensive glass that led to put-backs. You also can’t accurately talk about the second half without mentioning VCU’s defensive effort and their ability to limit open looks. The Rams were able to force the Flyers into bad shot after bad shot, and then the game became exponentially more frustrating by the Flyers getting mollywallopped on the defensive glass late in the shot clock and conceding easy buckets underneath. UD would finish the night being outrebounded 41-24 (18-8 off.). VCU got the lead up to 6 with 4 minutes left, and then 11 by the 2-minute mark. After that, it was all over but the crying. Part 1 to the Rams, 73-68.
“I think he’s one of the more improved bigs that we’ve played against in the country,” Archie Miller said. “He is a great offensive rebounder and the way that they play right now, those guys are down there all the time.”
Let’s get straight to the Hickory BB-Q Hot Takes of the Game:
The Elephant in the Room
John Crosby isn’t good. At this point in the season you know exactly what you’re going to get from John Crosby: wildly erratic ball-carrying that can’t be trusted under any circumstances. Just the type of guy you can’t trust in a crisis, basically. With that in mind, it does us less good to focus on the shittiness of Crosby than to focus on the real problem: Scoochie staying on the goddamn floor. It has become wildly apparent that UD does not have a real, viable option at back-up PG and the problem can only be solved by keeping the large testicles of Scoochie dragging on the floor. Even 9 minutes for John felt like too many.
UD’s rebounding was piping hot garbage
The rebounding tonight was just god awful and there’s no two ways around it. It lost UD the game, it negated their fantastic on-ball defense, and it bailed out VCU countless times in the last 10 seconds of the shot clock. MAC, Tillman and the Mohamed guy combined for 38pts and 22 boards. Comparatively, the starting 3 guards of VCU were good for 22pts and 11 boards. That’s the story of the game. Mikesell disappeared and was absolutely swallowed up down low in his 23 minutes on the floor.
Kyle fucking Davis
Dude just continues to be a player. He blocks shots, rebounds, dishes, and particularly on Friday night…was able to knock down treys. Kyle’s impact is never accurately reflected on the stat sheet; he just does the dirty work.
For the rest of the season Blackburn Review is going to record the DURRELL WATCH. No bullshit, Durrell is the X-factor for the Flyers the rest of the way. His defense continues to improve, and next to Scoochie and Kyle, it looks like every team the Flyers play is going to have fits trying to score in the back court. However, you can’t be scoring 5 points, man. On nights like Friday (particularly the second half) when UD can’t figure out how to tie their shoes on the offensive end, a quick shot from Durrell needs to be the answer. We’ve all grown tired of this story by now, but there is clearly trust in Durrell from the coaching staff and he needs to better capitalize on his minutes.
THE ROAD AHEAD
This loss meant very little in the grand scheme of things for our Flyers. You just saw the two teams who will be fighting for the conference title this year, I think at least that much is clear, however it is still unknown which 3rd/4th team will stick around to make things interesting. The next few weeks will slow down into a period of repetition, the dog days of A10 play if you will. UD will play each Tuesday for the next 4 weeks (alternating home/away), and then alternate Friday/Saturday games (home/away) the remainder of the season as well. The only obvious ramification of Friday evenings defeat was that March 1st in the Sweater Centre will most likely turn into a must-win game to hang the conference banner. The best you can do is stay LOWD. The boys travel to the Bronx on Tuesday to take on more Rams at Fordham. We alright fam.
I left room for your hot takes below: