Dayton is a fat girl who came back to school twenty pounds lighter. Written off just a few months ago, she is now garnering attention she isn’t used to. Maybe she doesn’t even deserve it, but this is UD, any girl not built like an Ewok gets a second look.
The Flyers, winners of three of their last four, are a testament to sustained mediocrity. UD is still in a position to finish .500 in league play, possibly finishing in a sizable logjam at sixth, and this is looked upon as an overwhelmingly positive feat. It is Dayton fandom in a nutshell – you’ve been down so long anything looks like up (h/t Richard Farina).
Of course, assuming anything at this point is a complete waste of energy. Dayton still has one game remaining away from the Arena, at George Washington, so a 7-9 record is where the smart money resides. UD is currently tied with Charlotte at 6-8 in the conference. The Niners travel to league doormat Duquesne tomorrow. A Flyer win, coupled with a 49er loss, clinches a spot in Brooklyn for the U of D. If Charlotte loses in Pittsburgh and their season-ending game against St. Joseph’s, Dayton gets in the league tournament without doing anything, which, given the circumstances, would be such an appropriate way for the Flyers to continue the season (I hear people, the usual suspects, chirping about the fate of our Overlords. Friends, Xavier is going to the new Big East – they give not two fucks about the rest of this season. They’ve punched their ticket to the Promi$e Land, leaving us peasants in their wake. Don’t poke a tiger with a stick).
Honestly, the various scenarios regarding the tournament seedings are too numerous and convoluted for anyone with a UD degree to figure it out. This much is certain, the Flyers need to win tomorrow night against the Bonnies to give themselves a reasonable chance to “earn” a trip to Brooklyn (By the way, it appears that NBC Sports Network has signed on to broadcast ALL of the league’s opening round games, meaning All four rounds of the 12-team championship will now air live, with three of the rounds being televised nationally. Nicely played, Bernadette).
Did anyone else forget that the Bonnies won the conference title last season? The smallest school to make the tournament last year, SBU has improved steadily over the past five seasons. Much of that had to do with the consistently superior play of Andrew Nicholson, who took his clown shoes to the Orlando Magic after playing his last game against Florida State in the NCAA tourney.
The Bonnies believe in head coach Mark Schmidt, signing him to a contract extension through the year 2019 in the off-season. Although SBU has certainly felt the loss of Nicholson, they do return a roster of experienced players. Eight players on this year’s team saw at least ten minutes per game last season.
This year’s Bonnie club is much like Dayton’s, perfectly average with not a single eye-catching victory on the resume. St. Bonaventure comes into its game with Dayton sporting a 14-13 overall record, 7-7 in the league (the Bonnies have suffered the majority of their losses against the better league members – VCU, Butler, La Salle and Saint Louis among them).
Schmidt’s squad is capable away from Olean, 5-8 away from home this year. The Bonnies have little trouble scoring, averaging over 73 points per contest this season, and little luck in stopping their opponents from doing likewise, allowing around 72 points per game. SBU’s foul-shooting has kept them in many games this season, they are best in the league, tenth best in all of the nation, connecting on 76% of their charity-stripe attempts. St. Bonaventure has much in common with UD’s previous opponent Richmond. SBU is an above-average shooting team that plays at a moderate pace yet allows too many second-chance points to compete with the upper-tier of the Atlantic Ten.
Meet and Greet
Demetrius Conger was the most likely suspect to take over for Nicholson and he hasn’t disappointed. Although not in Nicholson’s league, Conger leads the Bonnies in both points (13.9 ppg) and rebounds (7.2 rpg). The team’s top foul shooter (86%), Conger will play as many minutes as he is physically able.
After transferring in from a JUCO last season, senior wing Chris Johnson has fulfilled his potential. He is scoring thirteen points a game, helping ease the scoring burden on Conger. Much-traveled senior Eric Mosley (who started at Austin Peay, transferred to something called Cincinnati State Technical and Community College before finding his way to Olean) has been nothing short of a revelation for Mark Schmidt’s club. Mosley is the team’s second-leading scorer (13.1 ppg) and the Bonnies most deadly perimeter shooter. If you were a betting man, you’d be smart to pick Mosley as the team’s leading scorer against Dayton tomorrow night.
Juniors Matthew Wright (7.8 ppg, 1.7 rpg) and Chalron Kloof (5.5 pgg, 1.6 rpg) are two of the Bonnies most active players, yet over nothing in the way of rebounding. I’m calling them out on this mid-major basketball blog for the entire world to see.
Marquise Simmons, a 6’8” forward, and Youssou Ndoye, a 6’11” center, control the paint for St. Bonaventure. Simmons tore his ACL two minutes into last year’s opener against Cornell and was lost for the entire season. Although he has been slow to recover, Simmons is the team’s second-leading rebounder. Simmons received good news on Monday as the NCAA has granted him a sixth year and will return to SBU next season. Ndoye is like every African guy to ever play college basketball, he has no idea where he is but he loves blocking shots.
Michael Davenport, once one of Bona’s most promising players, has been relegated to spot duty in 2012-13. Davenport went down with a serious shoulder injury last season, missing all but eight of the Bonnie’s games. The Cincinnati native is logging just ten minutes a contest, scoring 2.7 points per game. Don’t cry for me, St. Bonaventure.
“Booksellers are the most valuable destination for the lonely, given the numbers of books that were written because authors couldn’t find anyone to talk to.”
This game will play out like the Richmond game. UD will lead most of the way, dominate the boards, and do just enough to claim the victory. Flyers win, 72-67, and the beat goes on.