RecapU. Dayton BasketballThe Final Chapter of DURRELL

Sully9 months ago1113 min

On the path to finally reach the finish line of the 2017-18 season for the Dayton Flyers, it became abundantly clear at the start of the calendar year that we would be rooting for “small victories” this season, instead of something truly tangible like a trophy. When Flyers, young and old, look back on this season, it will surely be labeled a “rebuilding year” full of ups and downs. And so, in the spirit of said rebuilding year, the last month or two was merely an exercise in looking for small things to enjoy, so we could somehow justify within ourselves why we have committed another 2.5 hours to this particular version of our basketball team. Luckily, these Gem City Cagers were kind enough to give us one more pleasant chapter at home before the doors are closed until November. It’s the very least they could do for making us diehards sit through 30 games of this muck.

The season has clearly worn on the Red Scare as well. Your efforts do not go unnoticed.

Five years from now, I am overly curious what the story will be for DURRELL’s career at the old U of D. Under Archie Miller, DURRELL was almost guaranteed to give you 15-20 minutes/night, a few three-point attempts, some average-to-above-average defense, and maybe turnover the ball over once or twice. The consummate role player, you could always count on DURRELL to keep quiet, blend into the rotation, and maybe have sex with an opposing player’s girlfriend on a road trip. Mind games, you know? The guy was all business, all the time.

Under Anthony Grant in DURRELL’s senior season, all of that has changed. Many things can be said about this season: the lack of effort from certain players, guys that never fit well into the rotation, the amount of skill on the roster, etc. What MUST be said is that no one cared more about this particular season than our boy Baby D. In a season where locker rooms issues popped up regularly and an upperclassmen quit on the team, not enough will be said about the effort DURRELL gave us for thirty games this year. Whether you best remember his effort against Oklahoma in the round of 32, or his drop-off for sophomore year, or his disappearance against Wichita State, or the absolute scorcher he went on to start this year averaging over 20 pts/gm; what I will remember most about DURRELL Davis is that he never quit on the 2017-18 Dayton Flyers, and he gave this program everything he had in his senior season.

This was surely not the season DURRELL envisioned in his mind in October, but someone has to lead the lambs to the slaughter, and Baby D did it with class. If you nailed me down to answer what fans of the program value the most besides winning basketball games, it would be honest to say we all hope our program is represented the right way (especially given some of the fuckery that’s gone on over the last few years). For four years, you would be hard pressed to find a single person around Dayton Basketball who did not feel DURRELL represented this program the right way, and I am more than happy to take this one paragraph on our website to thank him for caring about this program more than anyone reading this article. There will always be a free beer available to Darrell Davis in Dayton, OH.

Alright, the game wasn’t so bad, and I haven’t done a recap in *looks at notes* almost a month, so let’s get into the Flyers triumph on Saturday over the visiting George Washington Colonials.
When you recap the game a full two days later, the minutiae of the game fades, and you are left with narratives that dominated large stretches of the game. In this case the stretch I am referring to is the 9 minutes Kostas gave us in the first half; logging 10 points and 2 rebounds. Immediately after checking into the game the Flyers ran a great back door alley oop, which Matt Allaire has kindly provided here…

Now, I COULD show you a few more dunks from Kostas in the first half (there were 4), but that would be fodder for my overarching point: You are asking me to believe we absolutely could not get this production from the young Greek earlier in the year? Really? His 10-point first half was his best of the season, and he finished with a career high 14 points…in the last game of the year. If you insist on finding things to criticize about how Anthony Grant handled this season, you can start here. I’ve heard differing opinions on the work ethic of the younger freak, but if you didn’t sign up for a little babysitting at the college level as a head coach, maybe the NBA is better suited for you after all. Just a thought, I’m talking out loud guys, not directed at anyone. Just thoughts on a website.

Thanks to the outburst from Kostas and perfect shooting from DURRELL (3-3 FG, 1-1 FT) the Flyers enjoyed a nice 5-point advantage heading into the break. George Washington had one of the most balanced scoring distributions I’ve ever seen in a 20 minute half; scoring 32 points from contributions of all 8 guys who took the floor, with no one scoring more than 6. That’s Archie Miller-esque, if you ask me. Each time it felt like UD was going to put a little more cushion on that ass, GW would plop in a few to keep everyone interested.

The second half started out as your usual 3-point show from the Flyers, wasting lots of time passing around the perimeter and firing up long balls late in the shot clock. If you’ve watched even a single half of the Flyers this year you would understand this to be commonplace. Luckily, the boys weren’t ice cold, but the defense was as porous as ever, so UD would find themselves in a deadlocked tie at 46 after 4 minutes.

In hindsight, the next three and a half minutes would decide the game. GW failed to score a bucket from the field while UD rattled off a 12-0 run that would be the beginning of the end for the boys from Foggy Bottom. The up-tempo, fast-break style of play that we have pleaded the Flyers to employ was finally brought to center stage and the home jerseys never looked back. GW was unable to close the gap tighter than 7 the rest of the way, and Anthony Grant got to throw in Joey Lee Gruden for his second annual Senior Night. Tears were shed, sweaters taxed their quads getting up, babies took witness, and ultimately, Dayton would give us something pure to end this godforsaken season.

Since I haven’t mentioned anyone on the Colonials individually yet, I would be remiss if I did not highlight that this would be Yuta Watanbe’s final swan song in The Arena. He finished his fine regular season career with a 21-point effort on 8-for-16 shooting. While he cannot hurt us anymore, we will lose in Foggy Bottom regardless, you can at least count on that much. Maybe it was because the game meant very little (or possibly because GW is just such a forgettable, mediocre team) but until I pulled up the box score, I couldn’t have told you another player on the GW roster. This game and the Colonial roster will be forgotten about in Dayton faster than Jordan Pierce. Perfect segue…

Since there would be no meaningful postseason this year, of course the rumors were going to start to swirl about who’s leaving, who’s staying, and what next year will look like. As it has been said many times (on various media channels) in Dayton, the real-J journalists offer us as much information as they can, but do have an obligation to decide what belongs on, or off, the record. We do not have to worry about that kind of accountability. So, with all that in mind, here is what we know:

I was told by multiple people close to the program that Jordan Pierce leaving the University of Dayton is all but a foregone conclusion. Nothing shocking there.

With the same certainty I can say that Josh Cunningham will be returning to UD. No one has ever alluded to the contrary, and with a year to go to get his diploma, the chances he leaves are 0. Seriously, 0. He’s not leaving. Stop talking about it.

I think anyone who follows this program closely can respect that John Crosby came back to UD because he was betting on himself. As a junior, he knew the starting point guard job was his to lose, and unfortunately for John, he did lose it. Just the reality, no throwing stones here. We have shared many thoughts on John on this website, but with the climate on this team, no one can tell me he doesn’t give 100% every single time he’s on the floor. That is A LOT more than I could say for other members of this team. If John-boy is turning the ball over, goddamnit he’s doing it at full-speed. In a season where effort was brought into question on many occasions, I never saw that microscope being pointed at John, and that’s worthy of respect. The most interesting plot line in this mess to me is seeing if John accepts coming back as a role player next year to ride the pine and get his degree. He could do a lot worse. Again, I’m just thinking out loud.

Speaking of effort, let’s check in on what Xeyrius Williams is doing these days, since he didn’t have time for the game on Saturday:

I know Fortnite is a video game that is really popular right now but beyond that I don’t really know what he’s talking about, just for the record. What is not really popular right now with the kids is playing Fortnite so much you lose a full-ride basketball scholarship as an upperclassman. If you are buying the shit UD is shoveling about this back injury, frankly, I can’t help you. As a person who drove 4.5 hours to be in Dayton on Saturday for Senior night, you’re not going to get love loss from me talking about a dude who quit on his team to the extent of cleaning out his locker and not even showing up to The Arena for the final home game. There were at least 12,000 people in Dayton on Saturday who cared enough to show up to the game, one of the players on the roster wasn’t one of them. Good luck with the video game thing, X-man.

Now that we have sifted through the dirt, it is fair to say UD has enough pieces coming back next season to foster optimism. Jalen Crutcher had (by just about all measures) a better freshman season than Scoochie Smith, but of course he was asked to do much more this year in conference play than freshman Scoochie was asked behind Khari Price. In any case, it is clear to see that Jordan Davis, Kostas and Jalen are the building blocks for Anthony Grant for years to come. When you couple that with a returning Josh Cunningham (who will be in preseason POY discussion), a much-improved Trey Landers, and the additions of Dwayne Cohill, Ryan Mikesell and Obi Toppin, this rebuilding year has put UD in a position to be noticeably better in 2018-19. We will see, I’m just saying the pieces are there, guys.

In finishing up, since we have the luxury of writing this article after the seeds were released for the A10 tournament, we now know your Gem City Cagers will be taking on the Rams from Virginia Confederate University one more time in DC. I cannot think of a more fitting ending to this season than UD and VCU’s average-as-hell teams battling it out for the opportunity to get shellacked by Rhode Island on Friday. While I am extremely sad that I will have to watch Justin Tillman put up one more 20-and-10 effort on the Flyers for old time sake, I am glad UD gets one more crack at this lesser version of the Rams to settle the grudge match. By late afternoon Thursday we will be able to definitively say which team sucked more this year, that’s comforting. No gray area.

If you’re still reading you have an interest in Dayton basketball (and possibly the A10), so here’s my A10 1st team:

Jaylen Adams – St. Bonaventure
Jared Terrell – Rhode Island
Peyton Aldridge – Davidson (My POY pick as well)
Justin Tillman – VCU
Matt Mobley – St. Bonaventure

Newcomer of the Year: Kellan Grady, Davidson

Most Improved Player: Josh Cunningham

If you don’t agree with them, there is a comments section below for your takes. I’ll try my best to get Blackburn to write one more recon, and I will be back to recap as many games as UD ends up playing in the nation’s capital.

Stay #LOWD just one more time.

Sully

The LOWD ambassador of Chicago, Sully has spent his life tirelessly watching UD hoops. Welcomer of all takes, hot and cold.

11 comments

  • Tom Blackburn

    March 5, 2018 at 3:26 PM

    Can’t believe DURRELL’s father didn’t show up…

    Reply

  • Jim

    March 5, 2018 at 4:12 PM

    Agree on Crosby. He’s not very good but unless Cohill or Jordan Davis (in a week I won’t have to qualify that I’m talking about him instead of Pierce or Durrell) are ready to be the backup point guard we could do worse than Crosby 5-10 minutes a night. Another question is Matej. Played very tentative. Is demotion to the practice squad to free a scholarship even possible? If not he needs a lot of improvement. Also – 100% agree on Kostas. Grant should have played him a LOT more and lived with the result. I honestly think we may have lost a couple more early but would be much stronger now and finished with a little better record.

    Reply

  • Uncle Pyle

    March 5, 2018 at 4:59 PM

    Could we think to put Durrell as most improved?The dude went from averaging 5.5 a game to 15.4. He basically came out of nowhere to being a really clutch player on his team. But Cunningham is a deserving candidate too.

    Reply

  • The Legend of Andre Sando-wich

    March 5, 2018 at 7:04 PM

    What did Durrell eat and drink over last summer??…….at this rate of improvement he might be playing with “Antetokounmpo” again next year

    Reply

  • Fifth Floor of Founders

    March 5, 2018 at 7:38 PM

    The Blackburn posts this year were as reliable as the Flyers . . . . One quick observation, the Flyers won every game Joey Gruden started – that’s on you AG! One last bitch slapping and it will be all over.

    Reply

    • Sully

      March 6, 2018 at 1:36 PM

      We mailed it in…kinda like the team on the road.

      Reply

  • Jerry

    March 5, 2018 at 10:44 PM

    Please clean house AG and remove Pierce, williams, Crosby, Svoboda. Look forward to seeing in the next few months how this whole cluster pans out. Hope to see 4 new faces on that bench next year.

    Reply

    • Sully

      March 6, 2018 at 1:35 PM

      Pierce and XW are gone. We’ll see about Crosby, highly doubt Svoboda departs unless pushed out.

      Reply

  • Secton 405

    March 6, 2018 at 12:46 AM

    Totally agree about your babysitting comment. Gotta wonder about AG…I’ll give him another year. Also, you allude to a lot of locker room issues…maybe I’m clueless, but can you elaborate?

    Reply

  • Steve

    March 6, 2018 at 1:27 AM

    Rebuilding year? Looks more like a rebuilding decade. We got nothin and little comin in so far.

    Tillman 20 & 10? Bet he gets 30. Might get 130 if we put Svoboda on him again.

    And this isn’t the end of Baby D. He gets in the 1000 club in DC guaranteed. Goes down as a curiosity, a barely above average play in Flyer annals.

    Oh, for what it’s worth, this site was for shit this year.

    Reply

    • Sully

      March 6, 2018 at 1:34 PM

      This post is shit, so where does that leave us?

      Reply

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