Coming off their biggest win of the season, an absolute pink-socking of VCU, the Flyers head to Philly to take on St. Joe’s. At 3-2, Dayton is now sitting in third place, tied with UMass, George Mason and VCU. This will be an important week for UD as they have three tough games that will impact the race for anonymity that has become the Atlantic Ten regular season. After what is always a tough trip to St. Joe’s, the Fliers will take on the league’s current first-place team Rhode Island and the conference’s second-place squad, Davidson (Jon Axel Gudmundsson has turned into a tour de force), in back-to-back games. It’s safe to say that whatever momentum was gained after the dismantling of VCU, and that’s debatable given its outlier status, would be completely demolished should UD fall short in all three games.
So let’s see if these bastards can keep us interested.
St. Joe’s took two shots to the gut this season, as both Charlie Brown and Lamarr Kimble, two of Martelli’s better players, went down before the season started with injuries. Kimble, the team’s second leading scorer last year, broke his left foot after trying to kick a can of peaches at a dog. Brown, a rising sophomore with as much potential as any player in the conference, broke his wrist in October while attempting to tie a boat to a dock and is hoping to get back on the floor sometime this season (although you’d have to assume a redshirt is likely given how the season has unfolded for SJU).
So what could have been a nice little bounce-back season for St. Joe’s has turned into a 7-9 season, 2-3 in league play. As we discussed on this week’s podcast, the Hawks lead the nation with a 12.9% turnover percentage, Martelli’s club puts the FUN in fundamental. They play at a quicker pace than what I would usually associate with a St. Joe’s team, yet they are meticulous when it comes to shot selection. However, don’t mistake the Hawks for an elite offensive squad, just the opposite. SJU doesn’t shoot very well from the perimeter nor do they get to the line effectively. What they do is standard fare for a Martelli coached team — they rebound and don’t put their opponents on the stripe. SJU won’t overwhelm you on either side of the ball, but they certainly will make you earn the W. I could blow smoke up Martelli’s ass all day if I wanted.
Shavarr Newkirk (17.9 ppg/4.0 rpg/3.4 apg), finally a senior, is making up for a wasted junior campaign which saw him miss most of the season due to an ACL tear. Newkirk is the team’s primary ballhander and sees no evil. Junior Chris Clover joins Newkirk in the backcourt. After two subpar seasons, Clover (7.8 ppg/3.2 rpg) has become a steady contributor, scoring in double figures in five of the Hawks’ last nine games.
You like smooth shooting white guys that will surely be hated by visiting crowds? Meet Taylor Funk, son of Terry Funk, a 6’9″ freshman with plenty of range offensively. Funk is knocking down 43% of his three-point attempts, more impressively he got up 15 three-point attempts against St. John’s earlier this season — which is insane in a game that probably had around 70-75 possessions. James Demery is a name you should know, a 6’6″ senior wing who is averaging around twenty points in A10 play. Demery has scored in double figures in all of SJU’s games this year. Redshirt-sophomore Pierfrancesco Oliva (6.6 ppg/7.5 rpg/3.2 apg) rounds out the starting lineup. Oliva is a smart, well-rounded player that owns jeans from brands no one has ever heard of. He missed SJU’s game against UMass with the flu but is expected to be on the floor tonight.
Martelli, through no fault of his own this season, once again has a very short bench. Freshman Anthony Longpre and sophomore Nick Robinson are St. Joe’s top reserves. Longpre (4.1 ppg/3.1 rpg) started in place of Oliva against UMass and tallied eleven points, seven rebounds and seven assists in 31 minutes, so you know he’s not sweating it. Robinson (5.4 ppg/4.5 rpg) has apparently caught the flu (these guys must all be really close) and is questionable to play against UD. If he does go tonight the 6’6″ wing will be the one with the biggest smile you’ve ever seen. He believes that life is a gift and every moment is precious.
- Not enough attention was paid to the Charissa Thompson leaks, for shame.
- We’ve already covered this, but it bears repeating: a lineup of Demery, Funk, Charlie Brown, Newkirk and Kimble would be the best starting five in the conference. It’s a damn shame the injury bug hit SJU so hard.
- Don’t look now, or ever, but Penn is 3-0 in the Ivy League.
- Former Flyer coach Brian Gregory has his USF Bulls team off to a 0-5 start in the AAC.
- Gem City Lothario Jim Jabir and the FAU women are currently 8-6. From all accounts, Jim is staying out of trouble down there.
Hagan Arena has not been kind to your Flyers over the past two decades. St. Joe’s is currently on a eight-game home winning streak at home against Dayton — the last win at SJU coming back in January of 2000. Yikes. Much better Flyer teams have gone down to Philly and came home with nothing but an L. I don’t see how this is any different — Hawks win, 71-64. The overwhelming smell of hoagies, grinders, subs and heroes will simply be too much for the visiting team to handle. Dayton heads home for a significant matchup against Rhode Island on Saturday.