The annual dentist trip that doubles as a college basketball game is upon us. The Dayton/Miami series has produced some of the most unwatchable games these eyes have ever seen. But, that’s sort of the beauty of this annual matchup. It’s a slugfest where there are no winners, just survivors. No matter the talent on either bench, the game always seems to be tight. Over the past 40 contests between the two schools, the average score has been Miami 68, Dayton 67. That’s consistent mediocrity.
However close the games may have been over the series’ unremarkable history, they will forever remain the contests I personally look forward to the least. A trio of competitions in particular stick out in my mind; they are among the most awful games ever played between non-wheelchaired players.
3. 12/29/2001 – Dayton 60, Miami 23. Just an outright abortion of a game. The Flyers were borderline indifferent for all forty minutes and Miami seemed to be blatantly shaving points. A lot of points. The RedHawks shot something like 12% from the field and I’m pretty sure Charlie Coles actually used a bedpan as an act of disobedience. Keith Waleskowski, always the gamer, managed a double-double, scoring 13 points and 11 rebounds. This game was the equivalent of a Marilyn Chambers movie from the 1980’s, sure you could technically masturbate to it but at some point you realize you are better off turning on El Sabado Gigante and waiting for a Mexican lady with an impossibly huge ass in spandex to come on screen.
2. 11/21/2005 – Miami 58, Dayton 42. This was the team Dayton fielded the year after Trent Meacham left for Illinois pastures. Monty Scott, Norm Plummer, Chris fucking Alvarez and Warren Williams? Yeah, they were starters that year. The only thing I recall about this game was Brian Roberts filling out transfer papers between free-throws. The Flyers turned the ball over on just about every other possession as five generic white guys from Miami beat UD into submission. Pretty sure I broke into someone’s car and slept in the backseat that night.
1. 01/06/2009 – Dayton 45, Miami 40. The granddaddy of them all. Although a close affair, this one ranks as the most exasperating games of this horrific series. The halftime score was 17-17. Several sweater vests were burned in the stands that night; it was like an eastern European soccer game infiltrated by warring socialists. Only these socialists were the elderly, drunk and disorderly on frustration. Michael Bramos, an infamous Flyer killer, was completely distraught and actually did “fat guy in little coat” with Brian Gregory’s size 28 suit jacket in the game’s opening minutes. His odd behavior late in the second half conjured up images of Richie Tenenbaum’s epic meltdown against Ghandi.
I’ve been told that the Miami game is always best enjoyed listening to the radio coverage. I’m not here to argue. Buckle up.
Charlie Coles, America’s preferred octoroon, went out in a blaze of ineptitude, as Miami crawled to a 9-21 record last season – the RedHawks worst finish since 1970. Nevertheless, old Charlie finished as Miami’s all-time leader in victories and the MAC’s overall leader in conference wins. Losing Coles takes a bit of steam out of this annual clash as his press conferences were usually the overwhelming highlight of every mundane UD/MU matchup. Coles assisted in proving the theorem that black dudes can pretty much say whatever the fuck they want and nervous white guys will chuckle while scanning the room for recognition of their evident tolerance. This country has been doomed longer than you think.
Miami U returns to venerable UD Arena with a 3-4 mark on the young, supple season. Two of those losses were against probable tournament teams Louisville and NC State, who used the occasion to beat the ever-loving dog piss out of the RedHawks. Led by John Cooper, who is in his first year at the helm after leaving Tennessee State, the Hawks are not expected to achieve much this season. Gone are the team’s two leading scorers from last season, All-MAC forward Julian Mavunga and promising freshman guard Brian Sullivan (he transferred to Davidson during the offseason). There’s further bad news coming from Oxford as oft-injured forward Bill Edwards is out for the season after re-injuring his knee during a game against James Madison earlier this season.
Miami’s style of play has changed dramatically under Cooper. The Hawks no longer institute a “pass until the crowd tells you to shoot” mentality on offense. Their pace of play has been upgraded from comatose to restrained. Defensively, things have changed noticeably as well. Gone are the days of lockdown, pressure defense over ninety-four feet. Whether it’s due to the lack of depth on the roster or simply a dearth of defensive ability, the RedHawks are giving up just over 71 points per game and allowing their opponents to shoot an astounding 49.7% from the floor. It’s only been a few months, but it’s clear that Charlie Coles is long gone (he’s probably arguing with a store clerk as you read this).
Allen Roberts (12.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg), who was injured all last season and ended up redshirting, is the team’s leading scorer and undisputed gunner. Junior Quinten Rollins (30 mpg, 4.6 apg) is a crucial piece of the Hawks puzzle, as he is the club’s only true ball-handler and distributor. In addition, Rollins is Miami’s top defender, and will more than likely be given the role of slowing down Kevin Dillard.
Rounding out the backcourt are two freshmen, Reggie Johnson and Geovonie McKnight. Johnson has been a revelation so far this season, scoring around eleven points a game and shooting a solid 40% from behind the arc. McKnight (5.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg), a graduate of Middletown High, the same school that produced current RedHawks Bill Edwards and Allen Roberts, is struggling to find his stroke early in the season but still logs a healthy 20 minutes a game for Cooper’s club.
In the frontcourt, Miami is led by juniors Will Felder and Jon Harris. Felder (8.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg), a 6’7” forward, sat out last season after transferring into the program from St. Francis (PA). He is a banger capable of stepping outside of the paint and knocking down jumpers. Harris (8.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg) is a 6’8” lefty who plies his trade from the outside. He hit on 37% of his three-point attempts last season and is one of the Hawks’ best rebounders.
“God may not play dice with the universe, but something strange is going on with the prime numbers.”
I think we are still a little bit in shock over UD’s offensive performance this past week at Alabama. Although the Tide, when compared to Miami, is a world away in terms of defensive ability, there’s no way the Flyers can replicate their output against Bama. Still, considering this game is being played at home, and the Flyers undoubtedly have the talent advantage, UD clearly has the edge against their public school counterparts. My spidey-sense, which is probably just Lyme disease, tells me that Dayton is going to win this one rather handedly. Let’s call it UD 67, Miami 52. I can predict the following with utmost certainty: you won’t remember much about this game in a few weeks, just that it was sloppy and you wanted those two hours back.