Sometimes it sneaks up on you slowly, like a growing abscess on the roof of your mouth you more than likely contracted from sharing a Strawberrita with a sketchy underaged girl outside a Browns game. Other times, like a bad case of coffee shits, it grabs you immediately by the guts and dares you to ignore it. Dayton fans, it gives me no pleasure to tell you this, but, we are clearly dealing with the latter. The early returns are in and they are indicating a season full of unpredictability and potential disappointment. As a dedicated Flyer fan, this should come as no surprise to you.
The final score, a 70-56 victory for the Cagers, doesn’t tell the full story of what transpired on Blackburn Court last night. It was tight from the get go, as the Frankies came in and traded blows with Dayton all night long. In hindsight, it’s unclear why this was a close game. SFU didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, they didn’t get to the line more than UD and they were outrebounded.
It’s clear, from looking at minutes played, that Archie is going to ride Devin Oliver and Dyshawn Pierre as long as he can. The two forwards are UD’s most consistent performers, clearly know their roles and undoubtedly have the trust of Kid Yuma in the early going. Jordan Sibert only logged twenty minutes yet impressively picked his spots offensively. The transfer scored seven points in a row, a three-pointer and four consecutive free-throws, to break a 54-54 tie late in the game and put the contest out of reach. Saint Francis didn’t score again until a minute was left on the clock, when Ollie Jackson converted a layup to make the score 66-56 in favor of the home team.
To say the freshman have been underwhelming over the season’s first eighty minutes would be an understatement. As BR scribe Adam wisely explained – if the freshman were ready to play at a high level, they wouldn’t be at UD. Of particular note is the play of Scoochie Smith. Coming into the season, the general consensus was that among the four first-year players Smith was the most likely to contribute immediately. Some, including yours truly, speculated that a starting nod for the freshman guard was more than likely when conference play rolled around. Part of the reasoning was the question mark left behind by the graduation of Kevin Dillard. The good news, in a sense, has been the play of Khari Price, making Smith’s uninspiring play damn near moot at this point.
Although Price isn’t the type of point-guard that makes those around him better, he has a confident perimeter shot and has only turned the ball over once in fifty-five minutes of play (granted, we will know much more about Price’s decision-making in the coming weeks when the Flyers face stiffer competition). He looks like he should be quicker, and he isn’t a shut-down defender, but he is the best option we have going forward.
Archie is still trying to figure out what to do up front. Matt Kavanaugh has looked rusty and unsure of himself. Jalen Robinson and Devon Scott don’t seem in tune with the rest of the offense and Big Frog is just out there looking swarthy (he did put up a fairly impressive 5-trillion on Wednesday night though). This may not matter against teams like the Saint Francises and IPFW’s of the world, but UD will certainly need production from its bigs against Georgia Tech and Gonzaga.
Overall, I’m not overly concerned with the margins of victory up to this point. Sure, I would have loved two blowouts to start off the season, but sometimes tempered expectations are the best thing for you. That’s kind of what attending Dayton is all about.
Tom Blackburn is a proud U. o' D. alum. He loses faith in humanity one day at a time, but not in you, you seem like you are all kinds of alright. Charter member of the T-Man fanclub.