After completely undressing Austin Peay in front of 13,000 shocked patrons, the Dayton Flyers make a trip down to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Usually when you make a trip from Ohio to Alabama it’s to avoid the law or meet an underaged girl. Not the Cagers, they are heading down to Dixie hungry for a win.
There are two unique circumstances the Flyers will have to contend with tomorrow: (1) the game is tipping off at 1:15, while all the men are at work (this probably won’t have any affect on the contest, I just felt it was necessary to remind everyone this game will be on when most of you will be at lunch), and (2) there is a possibility Dayton will be looking ahead to Top 25 opponent Saint Mary’s, who will be visiting the Sweater Centre this Saturday afternoon (I don’t think UD will actually be looking ahead to the Gaels, I just want to put the excuse out there now).
Dayton can make some noise this week, as two formidable challenges lie ahead. Stay woke and LOWD.Jaime Carruth, from BamaHoops.com, has provided us with the Overview and Meet & Greet for the Tide. Shoutout to him for saving me the trouble.
Last year, shortly after new Coach Avery Johnson took over, the Tide traveled to Dayton for a mid-week day game and was thoroughly beaten down 80-48 in a game that wasn’t even as close as the score indicated. Coach Johnson was trying to implement his fast paced system with the defensive minded, methodical team he inherited, and it quickly proved to be a bit of square peg-round hole situation. We made the necessary adjustments to limit future embarrassments and eventually played our way onto the NCAA bubble, before fading late and settling for an NIT bid.
This year’s squad looks much different, although not necessarily a whole lot better. Gone is the leading scorer and heart of the team from last season, Retin Obasohan. He is replaced at PG by Dazon Ingram, who was playing in one of his first games as a true freshman against Dayton last year before losing his season to injury shortly thereafter. He was our leading rebounder, from the PG position, at the time he got injured last year, which as much a compliment to his length and athleticism as it is an indictment of our big men’s abilities on the glass. The knock on Ingram has been his lack of a jump shot, but he went 3 for 3 from downtown in our first game, so I’m cautiously optimistic that he may have a real break out season. This Alabama team should have a lot more depth, and be remarkably better defensively and on the boards than the one that got destroyed in Dayton last year.
Corban Collins transferred in from Morehead State and was our leading scorer in the last game. He brings great leadership, plays with a lot of energy, is a solid defender and has good size. He was formerly a highly rated recruit who originally signed with LSU, and can play either guard position. We’ve also added Bola Olaniyan, and undersized PF transfer from Southern Illinois who is a beast on the boards and has a few decent post moves. He gives us much needed depth behind Jimmy Taylor and Donta Hall in the post. You could see as many as 10-11 guys get meaningful playing time for the Tide. It’s still a relatively young team, with Shannon Hale and Jimmie Taylor providing the senior leadership, and both are capable of having great games but both are maddeningly inconsistent.
Overall, this Alabama team has good length, improved rebounding, and very good guard play. They are more capable of playing the style Coach Johnson prefers, and should be better than what you saw defensively last year. The most glaring weakness is a lack of a “go to” scorer with Retin gone. We don’t have anybody who can consistently score in the post, and there’s not really any good options for running isolation and hoping for an individual to create and make his own shot. As a result, we will rely on jump shots a lot offensively.
The future of Alabama basketball looks bright. We just signed two five-star recruits and some services have the incoming class ranked as high as 2nd in the nation! That won’t help us any Tuesday thought. Dayton is still way ahead of us at this point, having been to the big dance 3 years in a row under Coach Archie Miller. Unfortunately, the Bama program is still operating in the shadows of the football team, and I don’t expect much of a home court advantage for a 12:15 tipoff on a Tuesday. I think we will have a more respectable showing this year, but Dayton is the better team. Flyers by 12. Good luck.
As always, it’s a bit difficult to see what a team will be after just one game. Alabama blew out Coastal Carolina, although they struggled in the first half — the Tide went into the half down five. One interesting tidbit is that the Tide currently leads the country in two-point field goal percentage allowed, likely due to their teams average height ranking 13th in the nation at 6’6″. Bama only has one player above 6’9″ while almost everyone else on the roster is in the 6’6″ – 6’8″ range.
Last year’s teams relied heavily on the three to score with 44% of their shots coming from behind the arc. They didn’t shoot it all that well in the 2016-17 season. Transfers Ar’mond Davis and Corban Collins each jacked seven treys against Coastal Carolina. Collins continues his quality shooting from previous stops at Morehead St. and LSU, going 3-for-7, in line with his career 40% mark. Mr. Davis, not so much, going a mere 1-for-7 from deep. I would think Kyle Davis will be on Collins tomorrow.
I was feeling really good about this game until Larry Hansgen tweeted out the picture above. The Flyers used Hillary Clinton’s rental plane to fly down to Dixie. The stench of defeat will surely cling to our brave men in Red and Blue.
Nevertheless, it’s pretty clear that Flyers have a distinct talent advantage. Which seems like a fairly vital distinction. Charles Cooke leads all scorers with 24 points, Scoochie Smith turns up his aggression to ten and the Flyers leave the Saban Kingdom with a 71-64 victory. Roll Flyers.