When you have to trudge through a season full of poopy efforts from your favorite basketball team, you look for reasons for optimism, you look for reasons to feel joy, and you look for reasons to not have that last drink. Those that make their way to The Arena, night in and night out, are masochists of a certain kind and the only thing that keeps them coming back for more is fleeting moments of joy that cannot be found elsewhere. The Dayton Flyers delivered that first moment of 2017-18, it just took a while.
In the grand scheme of things, this win was not all that significant. It won’t boost UD towards a tournament resume, it won’t strengthen their chances of winning the conference, and it shouldn’t have you believing (just yet) that the collective team has turned a corner this season. No, no. Friday night was enjoyable because the Dayton Flyers kicked the shit out of VCU for 40 full minutes of basketball, on our home floor, on a national stage, when the fan base needed it most. For now, that’s enough for me.
First, I have tried my best to collect all the superlatives, but let’s recap some of them since I know a few VCU folks are reading: (why would you come to read this site, what’s the matter with you?)
- Dayton’s highest effective field goal percentage (76%) since KenPom started keeping the records in 2002.
- Dayton’s highest point total since 1997 against Prairie View A&M.
- Most points scored in a half (66) by any Dayton team, ever.
- Most made threes by any Dayton team, ever.
- Most points surrendered by a VCU team since a double OT game in 2000 against Texas A&M.
It was magical, it was a clinic in offensive game plan and shot selection, and it was the very first pink-socking of the season at the hands of a team quite unwelcome around Dayton, OH.
As much as I would love to sit here and break down the game, inch by inch, the numbers speak for themselves. No one could miss. Everyone got open looks, no player felt challenged on offense and every time I put my beer down we had scored 5 more points. At the end of the first half, DURRELL hadn’t missed a shot yet (7-7) with 18 points, Jordan Davis had 13 points in 14 minutes, and Jalen Crutcher was 3-for-4 from long distance. UD only surrendered 4 turnovers, shot 68% (24-35) overall from the floor and 66% (12-18) from 3. They out-rebounded VCU 18-12 and they assisted on 22 buckets compared to the Rams 10. They quite literally did everything right in the first half.
I don’t really feel as though I need to pull something negative into this column to make it seem objective, but if I did, I would point to UD being completely unable to stop Justin Tillman as the only wet spot on the floor of the first half. At the break he had 20 points on 8-for-12 shooting, he kinda just got the ball whenever he needed it and scored. Luckily, it didn’t matter even a little bit. VCU’s defense was utterly uninterested in competing on this night. Had this been any other game, like say, the one we need to play in Richmond in a month, it would’ve mattered. I digress.
While many went to relieve themselves at the half wondering how the Flyers might squander this lead, UD went to the locker room and discussed how to completely embarrass the Richmond Rams instead of letting them back in the game, and executed. The ball screens we had become frustrated with turned into the catalyst for quick passes and back-door screens. The pick and roll game had purpose. VCU consistently over-committed on defense, and got buried for it. Few fear HAVOC in 2018.
If anything, this was a quick glimpse into what this UD team COULD be, if they put all the pieces together. It also must be noted that this is not the VCU Rams we have become accustomed to, and in the fairest terms, they are also having a down year in their own right. They have a new coach and nine new players. They’re working shit out too.
Of course, I would be remiss if I did not mention the cherry on top of Friday night’s cake:
JOEY GRUDEN pic.twitter.com/hMCI8GOsXT
— Flyer Faithful (@Flyer_Faithful) January 13, 2018
You gotta rethink everything when a walk-on drops one on you. hats off to Joey Lee. His long ball would be the final points of the night in a merciless beating, good guys win, 106-79.
For the first time all season, I will leave you with only the rose-colored takes:
- I’m almost pretty sure Jordan Davis and Jalen Crutcher are the future backcourt of the Flyers. They have set themselves apart as the most effective newbies in the bunch, and continue to improve, game after game. There will be bumps and bruises along the way, but it seems like Grant might have a pair of young guards to build on.
- There will be very few games the rest of the season where Josh Cunningham is the fourth leading scorer and UD wins by 29. Remember, Friday night was the anomaly, not the mean.
- Trey Landers played some damn good ball too, and it sure seems these days like the Flyers go as he goes. In the Flyers last 3 wins, Landers has tallied 17, 18 and 15. In their loss to UMass, he scored a single point. Trey has scored double digits in 7 games this year, and UD has won them all. Alternatively, in our 8 losses this season, Trey has 9 or less in all of them.
So with that said, the reason the Flyers are going as Trey goes, is because DURRELL is necessary offense that the Flyers need every single night now. This is something you hope to bestow on a senior, but DURRELL just can’t take nights off. It is what it is. Luckily, he’s letting them hang REAL low these days:
Watch Darrell smack AG after the shot ?? pic.twitter.com/A2bVRslFuz
— Flyer Faithful (@Flyer_Faithful) January 13, 2018
So while I took the weekend to soak in the win before writing some thoughts, I encourage you to do the same. There will certainly be many more shit sandwiches to digest during this season, but it makes the roses smell just a little bit better, even if it is for 4 days.
Flyers are back in action on Wednesday night against the St. Joe’s Hawks of Philadelphia, game time is the always-absurd 6:30pm ET. We will be catching up with our friend over @hawkhillhardwood on the podcast to discuss the hoops-doing in the meantime before Blackburn gives you the rundown on Phil Martelli’s squad.
Stay #LOWD, be normal.
I like this picture because you can see that VCU scores 41, shot 47% and 38% from 3…and were down by 25. pic.twitter.com/PzROISEJwr
— Adam (@adam_gutheil) January 15, 2018