Your Flyers are off to a rousing start after two debacalizing (h/t Emmitt Smith) victories over inferior opponents. Dayton has depth, a true big man in the paint and a coach playing with house money. All is right in the Gem City. How good this team can be, and where we place our expectations going forward, will be answered in the coming weeks.
With a potential Iowa/Notre Dame/Xavier (or Wichita State) lineup facing UD next week in Orlando, the Flyers have every opportunity to make a huge statement. A quick trip down to Nashville to take on nationally ranked Vanderbilt follows shortly after the Cagerz return from Orlando. Then, and only then, goddamn it, will we know just how…high the Flyers…can…soar.
This is arguably the most excited I’ve seen the fan base since I started following the program, and it is not unfounded. The current Flyer roster is filled with a nice mix of talent, size and oddities. I haven’t seen the Sweater Nation this amped up since Billy Joel’s “Stormfront” came out (to be fair, that album had a classic rocker, “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” a forlorn ode to a dying fishing industry, “The Downeaster Alexa,” the synth-heavy “I Go to Extremes,” the only Billy Joel song that could conceivably be played in a strip-club, “Shameless,” and a tune that made older people contemplate suicide, “And So it Goes.” It’s a fairly wide-ranging collection by Joel, if we are being honest).
But enough about what could be, let’s discuss what’s immediate and true – the Tribe of William & Mary. A blood-thirsty crew of future accountants and lawyers.
William & Mary fits the mold of what I think is a perfect school to go to if you have absolutely no professional basketball aspirations. It’s a very good college, a place where you can walk around campus without constantly being hassled by white poison and the type of school that doesn’t even garner attention from menacing message boards. It’s pretty much got everything you need for a pleasant student-athlete experience.
I never understood why kids would continually pursue their hoop dreams, transferring from a solid college, one that would provide a marketable degree, to a school that is barely accredited. It’s a move that will no doubt come back to haunt you once your irrelevant playing days are over.
For instance, I completely understand why Trent Meacham left Dayton to continue his journey at the University of Illinois. It’s the school he always dreamed of attending, provided a better basketball opportunity and he arguably walked away with a degree every bit as good, if not better, than the one he would have received at UD. Fair play, Trenton.
Meacham’s decision made perfect sense then, and it makes perfect sense now. However, when I read about kids who are getting five minutes a game transferring to a MEAC school just so they can get some more shots up, I have to shake my head. They are sacrificing long-term gains for short-term satisfaction.
Anyway, that got me to thinking about schools, like William & Mary, that you should never leave unless the head coach literally drags you off campus. These are schools that you stay at even if you are demoted from a starter to a mop-up duty player.
Here’s my top ten list:
- Any Ivy League school
- Notre Dame
- Any Patriot League school (excluding Army and Navy)
- Pepperdine (Malibu, guys)
It’s an irrefutable list and I won’t hear any objections.
William & Mary come into this weekend’s game with a 3-0 record, an impressive seventeen point victory at NC State, a win at Liberty earlier this week and won their home opener last night against…Washington Adventist, a small NAIA school in Maryland.
The Tribe is an extremely experienced group, returning four starters and five returnees who saw significant time last season. The current roster features 68% of the points, 85% of the rebounds and 75% of the assists William & Mary accounted for last year. Incidentally, it’s a team with depth and cohesion.
Coach Tony Shaver’s program has racked up back-t0-back twenty win seasons, earning a trip to the NIT in 2015, and should challenge for the Colonial crown this year — the Tribe was picked fourth in the Colonial’s preseason poll. William & Mary is one of five remaining original Division I schools that has never played in the NCAA Tournament, a fact that keeps Shaver up at night. Shaver’s sleeping habits are well documented around Williamsburg, as he sleeps in a hyperbaric chamber and can often be spotted around campus at all hours chasing the ghosts of the witches of Williamsburg.
William & Mary are an exceptional perimeter shooting team, the Tribe was sixth in the nation in effective field-goal percentage last year, currently hitting 53% of the shots, 35% of their attempts from behind the arc. They play an intelligent, effective style of offensive basketball, featuring a nearly interchangeable lineup that poses matchup problems due to their bigs’ ability to knock down three-point shots. The Tribe have a unique roster, one that routinely results in five players 6’5″ or taller on the floor. In fact, only one player under 6’5″ will see significant time against UD on Saturday afternoon, these are some lanky boys.
Defense has continually been the team’s Achilles heel. The Tribe finished 266th or worse in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency each of the last five season, which includes three seasons in which William & Mary finished in the 300s. Bill & Mary is basically a slighty less talented Davidson.
Terry Tarpey is that dude. The 6’5″ senior does a bit of everything on the floor, he was named a second team All-CAA selection and the league’s defensive player of the year a season ago. He is an extremely flexible player, capable of scoring both inside and out. Omar Prewitt was the Colonial’s Freshman of the Year two seasons ago and is the Tribe’s leading returning scorer.
Daniel Dixon is the black guy, he does black guy things.
David Cohn, a transfer from Colorado State, got the starting point-guard nod. Like most Jewish guys he is primarily a distributor, but has the ability to knock down shots. Rounding out the starting lineup is Sean Sheldon, a big body poised to take over the paint.
Jack Whitman will likely be the first guy off the bench, providing the Tribe with another big body option down low. Michael Schlotman and Greg Malinowski round of the reserves. Schlotman probably won’t attempt a shot (as he’s a Jehovah’s Witness) and Malinowski is an inconsistent threat from outside.
I’ve decided to turn this section over to someone who can produce some actual valuable insight on quantifiable statistics. Plus, the more I delegate the more time I have to “accidentally” drown myself in the bath tub. So I’m hoping my man Nate can take it and run (follow Nate on the Twitter).
A slight disclaimer, even advanced stats are relatively meaningless with a 2 or 3 game sample size, but a couple interesting things none the less. These will be more meaningful starting in January.
A Dayton stat that’s kind of obvious, but when quantified jumps out nonetheless — 41.5% of the minutes this year are coming from the bench, good for 15th out of the 350-odd teams in D1 (vs. 21.4% which was 341st in D1 last year). We all know this, but it’s kind of staggering when quantified. UD is quite literally able to play twice as many bench players as last year.
When William and Mary is on defense, 59.8% of their points are rendered on two-pointers, good for 37th in the country. As a reference point,the D1 average is 49.6%. Most of this can be attributed to the fact that W&M gives up 51.4% FG% on 2’s. So far UD’s scoring has been fairly balanced between 2’s, 3’s and free throws. Given that Billy and Maria’s tallest player is 6-9, I’m interested to see if Big Steve continues to dominate inside like he has the last two games. Based on the above, he should.
I put the Flyers on upset alert in last week’s podcast and, goddamn it, I stand by it. Although the Flyers will eventually pull this one out, William and Mary will have the lead at the midway point of the second half before a run propels the good guys to a 72-65 victory. Scoochie drops eight dimes and the Flyers head into the Advocare Invitational with a 3-0 record.
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.