U. Dayton BasketballRecon: George Mason

What’s to stop Dayton from becoming George Mason? I remember a Xavier fan asking me this pointed question during the Flyers run to the Elite Eight. He is a Twitter follower I’ve conversed with amicably over the years, so I was curious as to the spirit in which he posed the query. I don’t believe he meant it as a slam, he assured me otherwise, or was attempting to take the air out of my (then) elated tires. He was merely making the point – how does a mid-major program keep the momentum going, particularly when coaching turnover is a direct consequence of sustained success?

Make no mistake, as far as I am concerned, Xavier, Our Overlords, produced the blueprint all like-minded basketball programs should follow (the succeeding words will bolster the “Blackburn is really just a Xavier fan in Flyer clothing” theorists, so be it). Xavier, contrary to popular opinion, did have success prior to joining the Atlantic Ten in the fall of 1995. The Muskies enjoyed several twenty win seasons while in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference, winning eight regular season titles and six conference tournaments. Xavier reached the Sweet 16 in 1990 and went to the second round of the tournament three times over the next following seven seasons. So to suggest that their accomplishments are a recent phenomenon is a tad misrepresentative.

Although the Muskies struggled in their first season in the A10, they quickly got their bearings and became one of the league’s frequent tormenters, earning a bid to the NCAA Tournament in thirteen of their eighteen years in the league. Xavier won at least one tourney game in nine of those appearances, advancing to at least the Sweet 16 in five of those trips to the Dance.pi-cbk-arizona-xavier-sean-miller-chris-mack-032515_vresize_1200_675_high_26While X was building its reputation, they were improving their facilities, playing stronger out-of-conference matchups and continuing to win NCAA tournament games. Success clearly begets success. The key, obviously, was Xavier’s ability to hire the right coach each time the previous one headed out to seek their fortune. Pete Gillen—Skip Prosser—Thad Matta—Sean Miller—Chris Mack is quite the impressive coaching tree.

Which brings us back to this: how does Dayton avoid being a flash in the pan like Mason (or VCU if we are being speculative)? The simple answer is Dayton isn’t George Mason or VCU. When you examine it closely, there are realistically just a handful of mid-major programs capable of achieving the type of recurrent success Xavier has enjoyed over the past two decades, UD is one of them.

With their fan base, tradition and excellent facilities, Dayton already has the vital elements to separate itself from 85-90% of the 351 Division One basketball programs in America. That’s a given. The key to sustaining the Flyers’ current rise is consistent prosperity in the Atlantic Ten and winning NCAA Tournament games. That, and only that, is the singular impediment keeping Dayton from making the next leap. With an appearance in the NCAA tournament looking extremely probable this season (and an advantageous seed to boot), UD is well on its way to establishing itself as a formidable program for the foreseeable future.

So, no, I don’t think we will look back on UD’s Elite Eight appearance in the same manner as GMU fans reflect on their Final Four run. I believe a firm foundation is being established, one that will sustain Gem City success for years to come.

Also LOWD, don’t forget the LOWD factor.


The season started with a promising start for the Patriots, after losing their first two games of the year GMU rallied and reached the finals of the Charleston Classic – beating Ole Miss and Oklahoma State in the process. Then things went to pot for Dave Paulsen’s squad. GMU took a few tough losses before the league schedule and have gone 2-7 in conference play. Mason’s trek to the Final Four seems like it occurred a decade ago because it did, way back in 2006. Everybody was obsessed with flash mobs, Texas Hold ‘Em Poker and George Mason hoops. But life goes on. 

GMU plays a fairly slow, methodical pace that assures Saturday’s game will be a sloppy affair. A major factor in Dayton’s favor is the fact that Mason does not turn over their opponents on defense. Paulsen’s team forces a turnover against their opposition on just 10.8% of possessions – that’s 351th in the nation, DEAD FUCKING LAST. As we know, turnovers, particularly away from the Sweater Centre, have kept UD’s challengers in ballgames they probably shouldn’t have had any business being in. No worry for the Flyers as they journey down to Fairfax, as Mason has little interest in forcing the issue defensively.
So what does Mason do well, if anything? Well, rebounding, for one. The Patriots do a good job of keeping their opposition off the glass, having firmly established themselves as one of the better rebounding teams in the Atlantic Ten – right up there with VCU, Dayton and George Washington. Another positive aspect of this current Mason team is that they know their limitations. GMU is not blessed with a wealth of perimeter shooting talent so they pound the ball inside and get the majority of their points from inside the arc. Not exactly rocket science, but it’s refreshing to see a team accept their cruel fate and push forward.
Paul Hewitt put his foot all the way instead the GMU basketball program’s ass and twisted. As a result, Paulsen is essentially rebuilding from the ground floor up. He had success while at Bucknell and seems like the type of coach that could utilize Mason’s resources and rich recruiting base to get the Patriot train back on the track. Until then, he is forced to manage an extremely inexperienced roster that is short on talent.


[show-team category=’georgemason’ layout=’grid’ style=’img-square,img-shadow,text-center,img-above,4-columns,white-box-theme’ display=’photo,position,location,name’]

GMU is yet another A10 squad that features a starting lineup with a three-guard attack. Marquise Moore has been Mason’s most consistent offensive player this season, leading the team in points and assists. Moore is athletic, a phenomenal rebounder and can get to the basket off the dribble but he may be one of the worst perimeter shooters that plays major minutes for a D1 program.  

Freshman Jaire Grayer joins Moore in the starting backcourt. Grayer, a guard with good size, is an inconsistent scorer with some solid potential. Otis Livingston completes the triumvirate, an under-sized freshman with elite speed. Livingston has played extended minutes during his first-season in Fairfax and, like Grayer, must develop offensively for GMU to make strides in the conference over the next few years.

Shevon Thompson has the body of a NBA player but the drive of a North Korean fashion model. Regardless, Thompson is a solid big man, good around the hoop and one of the nation’s best rebounders. He is a major liability from the charity stripe and, at 6’11,” a completely underwhelming defensive factor. Thompson will be an interesting matchup for Big Steve, I’d expect both players to slip into foul trouble.


DeAndre Abram, another freshman, rounds out the Mason starting lineup. Abram came into Fairfax with a reputation as an excellent outside shooter. Unfortunately for Paulsen, the 6’7” wing has failed to live up to expectations thus far, shooting a dismal 29% from behind the arc. Abram has gone off in a few games this season but for the most part disappears into the background.

Marko Gujanicic, Jalen Jenkins and Kameron Murrell are George Mason’s main contributors off the bench. Gujanicic has recovered from a dismal junior campaign and is arguably Mason’s best perimeter threat (and is a solid rebounder to boot). Jenkins has increased his productivity in conference play and chips in on the boards. Murrell, yet another freshman featuring prominently this year, is merely there to give GMU’s guards a breather.

Nate’s Numbers

clocks-e1c-printsI will have to admit I haven’t seen a single George Mason basketball game all year, but looking at their numbers I can only assume it’s because I would prefer to watch a 5th grade girls game at the West Dayton Boys and Girls club. Outside of Shevon Thompson I assume the rest of the team has the shooting capacity of Maurice Beyina. Not a single player other than Thompson shoots over 50% on two-point field-goals. As a team their rankings on shooting percentage are abysmal. 330th, 247th and 296th in three-point, two-point and free-throw percentage, respectively. George Mason averages almost nineteen seconds on offense possessions. This could be as obnoxious as watching La Salle, and it will be quite an accomplishment if the Patriots hit 60 points.

I spoke of Thompson earlier, he may be the only redeeming part of George Mason’s offense. He does shoot 62% from the field (that’s evidence of how bad the rest of the team is if the team shoots a combined 46%), and is a monster on the glass. He’s grabbing 16% of his offense’s misses and 33% of his opponents, ranking 14th and 2nd nationally. He only plays about 50% of the minutes, so I’m very interested to see how he and Big Steve match up. At 6’11,” and clearly competent on both the offensive and defensive side, it will be a stern test for Chief.

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The Flyers have had a full week off to catch up on their studies and spend quality time with their school chums. UD will be raring to go and the Patriots don’t have the type of fire power to hang with them. Road game or not, Dayton rolls on, winning 75-59 over the Patriots. As much as it pains Archie Miller, his club will make consecutive appearances in the national polls.

Tom Blackburn

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.


  • Anonymous

    February 5, 2016 at 5:46 PM

    I’m not liking this new, optimistic, Tom Blackburn… Comparing us our overlords? Come on… Hope is not what UD fans need.


    • Tom Blackburn

      February 5, 2016 at 5:48 PM

      I’m just saying, things are trending positive right now (and they could be even better next season). Just sayin’…


      • DrFlyer

        February 5, 2016 at 7:10 PM

        TB hit the flyer on the head with the hammer .. . in other words he is right. This is about branding. How are we viewed by recruits and coaches and the college basketball world. We are not longer the cute little first four town with great fans. We are no longer a team that can knock off a power 5 and then fade back to gem city ho hum. We are a now a power program that can win in March. There is one final step that we have to make. We have to get a reputation for putting kids in the NBA. If Chris Wright could have stuck and made a splash,, and CJ would have stuck, then coupled with B Rob, we now have a presence in the show. Gonzaga puts kids in the show, Xavier does, and Cincinnati does. That is the final piece of the puzzle.


        • Matt

          February 5, 2016 at 9:26 PM

          Your overacrhing point is dead on, but last I checked CJ was still on the Jazz roster.


        • MJ #45

          February 5, 2016 at 11:58 PM

          Chris Johnson is getting some meaningful minutes for the Jazz this year. Obviously behind Hood and Hayward, but Q Snyder regularly uses him in his defense/FT shooting end of game lineups


      • The Kman

        February 5, 2016 at 7:14 PM

        Hope and positive thinking is the gateway drug to “the big east is about to invite us” article. Let’s realize hope ends on Senior Night 2017. This freshman class and the one after is the answer to the Xavier perennial power Playbook or back to bubble legacy of BG question. n other words, the flyer future rests in the hands of Sam Miller. Pass the Jack Danels.


        • John Deere

          February 6, 2016 at 9:55 AM

          I’m thinking that Sam’s Senior Night will not be on Blackburn Court.


      • Normfor3

        February 5, 2016 at 7:15 PM

        How about some hypos on who would be the best to extend the coaching tree? Anthony Grant has to be the obvious successor, right?


        • Ctime

          February 5, 2016 at 11:00 PM

          Please tell me you are joking about hiring Anthony Grant. He won with another coaches recruits at VCU and then was horrible at Bama.

          I’ve heard Kuwik mentioned as the candidate on the current staff to promote. The promotion method has worked well for our overlords so we might as well try it too.


          • TBolt

            February 6, 2016 at 11:10 AM

            The city of Dayton would not be able to handle a black head coach. Blue hair dontations that went to UD would quickly go to Ohio Lottery scratch offs. You’d see fans wearing white pillow cases on their heads at the games and that would be bad for the schools already racist image.


            • John Deere

              February 6, 2016 at 8:36 PM

              Oliver Purnell didn’t check the African-American box on his employment application? You are a dumb ass.


              • TBolt

                February 7, 2016 at 5:50 PM

                Flyer fans were ok with it because they thought Morgan Freeman was coaching the team.


                • John Deere

                  February 8, 2016 at 8:35 PM

                  You make a good point


        • John Deere

          February 6, 2016 at 9:47 AM

          There is no coaching tree. The Cagers long term success depends on young Neil’s ability to keep Archie at UD for a few more years. It’s a relatively simple strategy that depends upon the 1% of the fan base being swayed to transfer a few million dollars of their children’s inheritance to the Miller Family Trust.


  • Dayton 155, GMU 8

    February 5, 2016 at 7:28 PM

    we are going to put our balls on their chin and brush their teeth with our dicks


    • Dayton 155, GMU 8

      February 6, 2016 at 9:07 PM

      I was closer than anyone would have thought.


  • Gil

    February 5, 2016 at 11:16 PM

    Endowment and larger fan/alumi base.. 2 factors
    That give the Daytona fliers a higher cieling than X.. Every lasting program has $.. Dayton has it… Even over most big east programs


    • John Deere

      February 6, 2016 at 9:51 AM

      Gil, are you referring to penis size? Because the School’s endowment will never be used for athletic purposes. It’s mostly restricted funds designated for stupid shit like academics.


      • Gil

        February 6, 2016 at 8:58 PM

        definitely direct correlation between endowment and athletic programs success.. End of the day execs at the U push money where they want it


        • John Deere

          February 6, 2016 at 11:46 PM

          I agree with what you’re saying except for your assumption regarding endowments. You don’t know what the hell you are talking about. If that were the case Harvard and Yale would be kicking the SEC’s ass in football.


          • Gil

            February 7, 2016 at 10:57 AM

            Schools focus on academics are the exception.. School in any big conference with larger endowment will typically have more athletic success.. Prove me wrong. Stick to farming you blue collar peasant fuck


            • John Deere

              February 7, 2016 at 3:05 PM

              I’m not a peasant, but I would encourage you get on the on-line and do one of those Google searches and explain why the Big SEC Schools ( with the exception of Bandy and TAM) have endowments that are less than one third of most B10 schools. UCONN’s endowment is smaller than Dayton’s. Throw out Duke and tOSU, and all of the other national champions in basketball and football have endowments that are smaller than all but two of the B10 schools. I spent less than 10 minutes to figure this out Gil. If you need a job, I need some one to clean the hog barn.


            • John Deere

              February 7, 2016 at 3:44 PM

              Gil, do a quick Google search of the endowments of the SEC schools, or save some time and focus on Kentucky and Alabama, and then explain why their endowments are less than one third of most of the Big 10 endowments. Then look at UCONN’s endowment and explain why it’s less than UD’s. Dude, do you really believe that SEC football boosters are funneling money through the school’s endowments? Fuck no. If they did, the football programs would never see it. Seriously, you are a novice.


    • The kid from Lowes

      February 7, 2016 at 11:28 AM

      Endowment? Are you saying our dicks are bigger than most?


  • Dick Fitzwell

    February 6, 2016 at 7:40 AM

    I’d like to screw Jessica Alba.


    • Penis fits well

      February 6, 2016 at 10:11 AM

      Seems reasonable


  • Marycrest lunchlady

    February 6, 2016 at 1:36 PM

    Dude, FUCK Xavier and their stupid fans.

    “Well thank-Yah bayyyyyyybeeeee!”


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