Every team, be it Duke, Kentucky or the Washington Generals, has a night like tonight. The Flyers went on the road, in a tough environment, against a solid team, and laid an egg. UD seemed out of sorts, out of synch and out of answers all night. Dayton could simply not get untracked and couldn’t put together enough runs to keep up with St. Joe’s.
In the end, the Flyers didn’t have enough offense to come out ahead, SJU got easy buckets, played their usual brand of physical defense and cruised to a 79-70 victory. The loss snaps a nine-game winning streak by the Flyers and drops them to 21-4 on the season. The Hawks, by virtue of their win tonight, enter into a three-way tie with Dayton and VCU for first place in the Atlantic Ten.
The Sweater Nation by and large eats out of Archie’s hands. We smile when he lies to us about injuries, blush when he recruits players with academic histories that would give most coaches ulcers and shrug when “second opportunities” become third, fourth and even fifth chances for players immune to discipline. That’s what winning does. It gives coaches enough slack on their leash to wander next door.
However, I think we can all agree that Archie’s lineups tonight were at best questionable, at worst blasphemous. Miller’s personnel decisions, particularly in the first half, were nothing short of an abomination against God. I’m almost positive Kevin Kuwik was our shooting guard at one point. The first twenty saw Bobby Wehrli, who hasn’t seen the court for significant minutes since the Monmouth game (you guys even remember that one?), play a bizarre six-minute stretch and Ryan Mikesell right there with him, racking up four minutes of court time in the first frame as well. A head-scratcher to say the least.
Something’s wrong. Nothing Archie can say will justify the Wehrli minutes.
— Showey D (@ShoweyD) February 18, 2016
The biggest question mark was Archie’s reluctance to play Big Steve against an undersized Hawk squad. When McElvene was in he scored at will and had an overwhelmingly positive impact on the game, the big man finished with twelve points in eighteen minutes. In addition, UD’s lack of size down low with Big Chief benched was a major factor in the Hawk victory. SJU scored 40 points in the paint, a little more than half of their points coming inside.If Martelli could’ve drawn up the perfect outcome before the game (and I’m not sure he didn’t) it would have included Dayton bombing away from outside and not challenging the Hawks defensively inside. The Flyers responded in kind, shooting a season-high 31 threes (connecting on just eight) and continually allowing St. Joe’s to get easy buckets inside. For the first time all season, it felt like Dayton simply couldn’t handle their opponent’s physicality. Martelli’s club is aggressive on both sides of the court and it seemed like UD was either not prepared for it or simply didn’t answer the call. SJU brought a man-sized game to the table and Dayton appeared to lack the CHEST for it.
Obviously, there was increased pressure on Charles Cooke, Dyshawn Pierre and Scoochie Smith with Kendall Pollard taking the night off. Cooke is the guy UD relies on offensively and he didn’t really get it going until it was too late – the junior wing scored seven of his team-high 16 points in sixty seconds during Dayton’s last gasp run with around five minutes left in the contest. Pierre played his usual understated and well-rounded game, finishing the contest with ten points, eleven boards and five assists. Smith was erractic, turning in what could only be considered a sub-par showing for him.
Felt like one of the few questionable games by Archie. The late comeback could have been for the tie or lead without odd lineups earlier.
— Steven Wright (@Steven_Wright_) February 18, 2016
The good news, if you’ll indulge me, is that the loss to St. Joe’s is just a slight tear in our sails. It doesn’t change the direction of the season and certainly doesn’t come close to putting a damper on our expectations going forward. UD was the underdog going in and looked every bit the lesser team for forty minutes tonight. The win strengthens St. Joe’s chances for an NCAA Tournament bid (yay A10!), in fact the win against Dayton might be the reason the Hawks hear their names announced come Selection Sunday, and won’t cause too much reverberation as far as the Flyers’ potential seeding is concerned.
We have to turn the page quickly on tonight’s gloomy performance as the Flyers welcome Saint Bonaventure, another club desperate for a big victory, into the Arena at noon on Saturday. The Flyers have five conference games remaining and still have work to do if they want to win the regular season crown. REMAIN LOWD.