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Everyone knows the deal with in-season tournaments by now, win the first game and you avoid the futility of the loser’s bracket. Win two games and you can label the trip a success.
Fortunately, the Flyers have succeeded in at least one of those pursuits in each of Archie Miller’s first three in-season tournament appearances. Under Miller’s leadership, UD has accumulated a 7-2 record, winning at least two games in all three of their preseason tournament showings in addition to earning victories in their first game of two of those early-season tournaments.
The field in this year’s Puerto Rico Tipoff seems precarious at best. UConn, who would seem to be UD’s semi-final matchup should the Flyers get by Texas A&M, has pedigree and enters the tournament as the only ranked team in the field. The Huskies are in a bit of flux, having to replace Shabazz Napier and a handful other veterans, and will battle against a tough non-conference slate this winter. There’s no telling what kind of team Kevin Ollie will have on his hands come March.
The rest of the field is composed of possible NCAA tournament teams (UD, West Virginia, Texas A&M) and teams in the midst of rebuilding (New Mexico, Boston College, George Mason, Charleston). This isn’t to say there aren’t quality wins on the table for the Flyers — it just seems the first game (as always) is key, as a loss to the Aggies on Thursday morning would presumably result in a less than impressive final duo of opponents for Dayton.
Of course, the Flyers’ top priority will always be a commanding performance in Atlantic Ten play, more so than usual given UD’s rather benign non-conference schedule this season. Nevertheless, a Dayton victory over Texas A&M will likely present the Flyers with the matchup Archie Miller really desires against Connecticut.
[title type=”special-h4-left” color=””]Shaky Knees[/title]
Entering this season, A&M’s Billy Kennedy was presumed to have the unenviable task of coaching for his job, albeit with a hell of a severance package. Now is his fourth season in College Station, the head man in Aggieland was under undue pressure to deliver some results.
Kennedy seems ready to give A&M a breakout season since going 49-47 in three seasons as the Aggies head man. But last season already had fans and media alike calling for his job. The rope won’t be extended too far for Kennedy in year No. 4 though he does have the players he wants at his disposal finally. With a team full of his recruits, he can implement the fast style of play A&M showed at times a year ago. If the play slows and so too does the winning, Kennedy could be shown the door before he even gets the chance to bring the A&M program from off the floor.
Doubts increased when Kennedy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s this time last year. There were worries, apparently, that Kennedy’s disease would be used against him negatively on the recruiting trail. When I first read that A&M boosters were concerned about the possibility of losing recruiting battles due to concerns over Kennedy’s degenerating health, I thought, sure, I can see that.
Then I realized this was 2014.
Let’s propose a coach from the Big 12, say Scott Drew, is in a battle over a recruit with Texas A&M. Do people really expect him to turn around to a high-school kid and say something like, “You know Coach Kennedy is going to be walking around the gym like Quasimodo, right? Why do you want to play for a coach with a colostomy bag? Don’t you find that creepy?”
Not happening. Not in the age of Twitter Lynch Mobs and immediate news cycles. Anyone caught using someone’s disability against them would have to walk a PC plank right to the bottom of the Fake Outrage Sea. I have to imagine this was merely an excuse being wielded by moneyed boosters at A&M to hold over Kennedy’s perpetually shaking head.
The good news, for Kennedy, is that A&M has been tearing up the recruiting trail as of late. He has put a fence around Texas, reeling in one of the nation’s best in-coming class for 2015. The result? Billy Kennedy will be leading the Aggie basketball program until at least the end of the 2018 season, as he just signed a contract extension back in early September. The lesson, as always, is if you bring in the horses, they will let you run the stable.
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[title type=”special-h4-left” color=””]Overview[/title]
A&M opened their season last Saturday with a 109-68 snoozer over Northwestern
State. The Aggies shot nearly 50% from the arc and out-rebounded the Demons
Texas A&M returns four starters from last year’s eighteen win club and
Kennedy is convinced A&M has the type of depth and athleticism to
seriously challenge for an NCAA Tournament bid this season. Accordingly,
Texas A&M will look to install a faster pace on both ends of the floor.
The Aggies lack of offensive prowess, they ranked 304th in scoring
last year (64.7 ppg), kept A&M out of the upper-tier of college
basketball a year ago. Kennedy’s club relied on defense, the
Aggies were 27th in the nation in scoring defense (62.8 ppg),
an area A&M will likely excel in again this season.
A&M received good news back in early November as SMU
transfer Jalen Jones was declared immediately eligible by the
NCAA. Jones is a 6’7″ forward who led the Mustangs in scoring and
rebounding before jumping off the sinking ship currently being captained
by Larry Brown. Jones is an extremely talented addition, who will soften the
blow the Aggies received when leading scorer Jamal Jones unexpectedly left
the program last May.
Caruso is one of the best pure guards in the whole damn nation. SEC Preseason 2nd Team, Molester Mustache 1st Team.
I think this dude kinda looks like Kevin Hart. All black guys look like Kevin Hart to me.
Jordan Green • G (6’5″/191) • Sr.
vs NW State: 15 pts, 7 ast
Green is seen here beating a lesbian off the dribble.
A big body who operates near the rim, could be a headache for UD’s undermanned front-court.
I’m not even sure how Fitzgerald sees the rim if this is the way he routinely shoots the ball. I remember I had a coach that stressed the importance of “seeing the basket” throughout your entire shooting motion. He also stressed that we could sell him our used underpants after practice.
There is absolutely no chance this kid wasn’t named after Peyton Manning. None. Allen is a three-point shooter, nothing more, nothing less.
A highly-prized recruit out of the Lone Star State, he looks like the ne’er-do-well son of a drug-lord. Not the responsible, older son that takes over the family business, he’s the other one, the offspring that runs a music studio out of his basement.
Freak athlete with size, will be the best pure scorer on the floor. A&M needs Jones to be a consistent scorer in order to have success this season. He has no issue getting shots up.
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[title type=”special-h4-left” color=””]Prediction[/title]
There are two matchups to watch in this one: (1) Scoochie Smith vs. Alex Caruso and (2) UD bigs vs. A&M’s bigs. The Aggies would seem to have an edge in both respects, but just by an asshole hair. This will be a good early-season test for UD, and I’d expect a close game.
Dayton loses a close one, 75-72.
On a more important note, a trip to San Juan increases the likelihood of imminent bikini pics from Morgan Miller, and that’s really what this trip is all about.