We’ll start with the caveat: Alabama A&M is an objectively terrible Division 1 basketball team. Bless their hearts, they just aren’t good, and that’s ok. We knew going that the outcome would never be in doubt, which is quite rare for a Dayton game.
This night was about one final celebration of the Elite 8, including the sexy new banners, before moving on. It was about getting guys some minutes before the three games in four days grind that will be Puerto Rico. It was about checking up on Photobooth Gurl, a noted and distinguished friend of the BR. It was about the student section, full as ever (seriously, no snark here. You guys were awesome. Keep it up).
On the floor, it was about Darrell Davis. The lone eligible frosh, “Durrell” put on a first half show. He made threes, attacked the rim, and calmly knocked down free throws. He looks like the most game ready Cager freshman since Chris Wright. He will have his struggles and needs to put on weight, but this kid is going to be a star. After 15 first half points, young Darrell had a few freshman moments after the break, but overall, he had a spectacular evening.
It was also about Devon Scott. Voted a captain to the chagrin of the sweaters and Donoher, Scott stepped on the floor and played like a captain. The numbers were nice (9 points, 12 boards), but this was against a bad SWAC team. How he looked seemed far more important. He showed an understanding of how to create a passing lane for a guard, and he knew where to position himself on defense. He looked like a basketball player, not a big dude in a tank top.
There was a lot to like about Dayton in this game. Scoochie Smith looks ready to run the show. Dyshawn Pierre looks like a seasoned pro with much improved ball handling. If Pierre can push the ball up the floor like he did against Alabama A&M, I have no idea how opponents will stop Dayton in transition. Kyle Davis is the quickest Dayton player I can remember. On the flipside, Sibert seemed to force things and never really got his feet under him, and Jalen Robinson looked out of shape and low on confidence.
Perhaps the most encouraging takeaway from opening night is that this team is clearly nowhere near a finished product. This is just their baseline. We won’t begin to know what kind of team this will be until they get punched in the mouth a couple times, but this UD squad oozes potential. After last season, the “P” word isn’t quite as scary, even if we know they can’t possibly live up to our raised internal hopes and expectations.
Next up: Texas A&M on Thursday in Puerto Rico.