What a long, strange week it’s been for your Dayton Flyers. After waking up Monday morning as the 15th/13th ranked team in the nation, riding a nine-game winning streak, UD went out and lost back-to-back games for the first time in over two years. A tough road loss to St. Joseph’s earlier in the week understandably dialed back the hysteria for a day or two, and today’s disappointing defeat at the hands of St. Bonaventure helped cement the Gem City’s feelings of inadequacy. The Bonnies came into the Sweater Centre and handed the Flyers their second home loss of the season, 79-72.
Flyer fans were discussing the possibility of being a three seed on Wednesday afternoon, and now we are hoping UD holds onto a top four finish (and a tournament bye) in the Atlantic Ten.
St. Bonnies’ offense was a known quantity coming into the contest. With Jaylen Adams and Marcus Posley leading the SBU attack, Mark Schmidt’s club can put up points against anybody in the conference. Bona came out firing early in the game, connecting on six of their first nine shots, hitting three consecutive three-pointers before the first TV timeout. It was clear from the jump that Dayton’s offense would have to rise to the occasion to keep up with the Bonnies.
Unfortunately, Dayton was inconsistent on that end of the floor, particularly from the perimeter. UD shot an abysmal 24% from three (5-for-21), a subpar 41% from the floor overall. If I gave you those two numbers prior to the game you would have assumed the Flyers were in for a long afternoon, and you would have been right.
It was a grabby affair as J.D. Collins, the NCAA’s National Coordinator of Officiating, was in the building and his troops were looking to impress the boss. The fouls were called fairly equitably, Dayton was whistled for 22 fouls and the visiting Bonnies were assessed 25. The Flyers scored 21 of their points from the charity strip, SBU had 19. Although the whistles were greatly reduced in the second frame, it seemed clear the officials were there to enforce all of the points of emphasis by the letter of the law. It made for a very stilted first half.
Collins was on camera more than Obama when he was in the Arena for the First Four a couple of years ago, I’m convinced the color commentator was offering to be cuckolded by Mr. Collins. It was a bizarre love-fest that went on way too long.
As we are well aware by now, the Dayton offense goes as Charles Cooke goes. If Charles ain’t cooking (sorry), Dayton ain’t eating. Cooke had an uncharacteristic performance from behind the arc, converting just two of his eight three-point attempts, and couldn’t seem to get in a groove shooting the ball. The junior transfer did have several key baskets driving to the hole and was nearly perfect from the stripe, but his inconsistency was symbolic of Dayton struggles this afternoon.
Kendall Pollard was once again missing in action and his absence was greatly missed. With KP out, Archie was forced to give major minutes to Bobby Wehrli; his defensive performance was so awful I’m not sure there is an adjective strong enough to describe it in print. Sam Miller’s line on the day: 6 minutes, 1 assist, 2 turnovers and 3 fouls. The Flyers simply don’t have enough talent to cover for Pollard’s nonexistence.
Kyle Davis played 26 minutes and I can’t remember a single play he made. KD’s stats from UD’s last three games are discouraging to say the least – 2.6 points per game and 36% shooting from the floor in 22 minutes an outing. Davis hasn’t been quite the defensive disruptor he was a season ago, which was very evident as he tried to keep in front of Jaylen Adams all afternoon (to be fair, Adams may be the most talented guard in the entire league).
Steve McElvene continues to impress, the Dayton offense is at its most efficient when he is on the floor. I said it on Twitter and I’ll repeat it for the unfortunate souls that don’t follow me, the Chief gives maximum effort when he is on the floor. The kid runs the floor as fast as he can, he bodies up his opponent as hard as he can down low and he crashes the boards with intensity. Next time you are watching UD focus on Big Steve for a few plays to see what I mean. It’s extremely encouraging because it leads me to believe he has completely bought into the system and desperately wants to get better. A sure sign that McElvene will continue to improve as his career progresses.
While the season is certainly not lost, not at all, there will be some recalibration going forward. UD has four games remaining on its regular season slate, two on the road and two in the Arena. This Tuesday’s tilt against Saint Louis would appear to be the only “gimmie” remaining, as the Flyers close out the season with a visit from Rhode Island, a visit to Richmond and shut down the Arena until next November after VCU comes to town on March 5th. Unfortunately, shit is getting interesting. REMAIN CALM, STAY RED AND CONTINUE TO BE LOWD.
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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.