Off-SeasonU. Dayton BasketballRising from the Ashes

Sully4 months ago612 min

I’m not sure if anyone asked for it, or even wanted it, but now that dust has settled after the most eventful day in the young Dayton offseason, the BBR is back to give you the scoop that is not fit to print on respectable media outlets.

Before we get to really breaking down the carnage below, let’s clear the air. The Day of Departure, last week, was undoubtedly a great day for the Dayton basketball program as a whole and the first tangible steps I’ve seen to Anthony Grant tearing this shanty to the ground in order to rebuild for the future. Can you still criticize his in-game coaching from this past season? Sure. Can you still be angry at a 14-17 result from year one? Absolutely! But what should not illicit your grumbles is Grant having the stones to show the door to a few guys who weren’t going to help this rebuilding process anyway, and then not kicking up much of a fuss when a few more players came to his office to talk departure.

So what has now been put into effect is the long, dirty road of rebuilding the Dayton program back to the NCAA tournament. Whatever your feelings are on Grant, at the very least he is putting his own plan in motion for all eyes to see. Given the events of the past week, the bare minimum (emphasis on bare minimum) expectation now is to have a tournament-caliber team while Crutcher, Jordan Davis and (maybe?) Toppin are here. If you’re good at math, that gives Anthony Grant a window of 3 seasons to do something worth our while as fans. Again, bare fucking minimum. The Day of Departure was a blessing because it sped up the process of “show and prove” for Grant. If UD is to get back to the tournament in the near future, this house-cleaning will be looked at in hindsight as the catalyst for those events, much in the same way Brian Gregory’s 2006 clearinghouse is viewed today. If he fails? At least he had the stones to kick out the limp meat and make a team that was entirely his own.

If UD hasn’t made the dance by this time in 2020, Grant won’t be able to put his ass on his own chair for the 2020-21 season. Don’t treat Neil Sullivan and Co. like they’re stupid…they know this too, and in a moment behind closed doors, Neil Sullivan I’m sure would be quick to tell you that he’s not entirely certain the Grant hire will work out yet either. In any case, the bar has been very clearly set. If you can’t wait another year or two, this process is not for you.

Many fans of the Dayton program like to shield their eyes from the realities of mid-major basketball, but the hard truth is that Dayton was never going to come out of the Archie Miller departure with a tournament-caliber team. It simply was not a realistic expectation for anyone to have. Going into next year, the expectation will remain roughly the same, with slightly more room for optimism simply because the conference is as wide open going into the 2018-19 season as it’s ever been. I don’t say all this to get you hot and bothered, just like to set the stage for my ramblings.

Let’s start with the loudest departure, Kostas Antetokounmpo. Since the Flyers returned from the A10 tournament in Washington DC, Kostas has not been seen anywhere near campus or Dayton in general, and withdrew from school almost immediately after the season ended. I have to respect that kind of level of “fuck it”. On one hand, I can certainly understand a kid like Kostas looking at his brother making millions of dollars in the NBA and then not wanting to go sit through Mathematics 114 next to Johnny from Putnam County, Ohio. On the other hand, I can’t imagine the people around him are naive enough that they have convinced Kostas he is an NBA talent. Just some quick googling will uncover a few articles on his draft status, and they mainly echo the tone of this piece from Bleacher Report.

The most fascinating thing about the way these are written is how the truth is put into the spin zone for a guy essentially going through an interview process. The truth being told from those inside the program was that Kostas came into school entitled about his role on the team, with many telling me he “was born on third base and thought he hit a triple.” When minutes began to get cut for the young Greek, his first response was not to work harder to earn them. But naturally, since he is applying for a job in the NBA, articles quoting Kostas’ agent blame Anthony Grant for not using him the right way, and not developing his talent, when in reality it just never sounded like AG wanted to put up with his crap. I’m not really sure what side I’m on here.

So let’s pretend for a minute his name is Kostas Jones. Mr. Jones just came off a season where he averaged 5 points, 3 reb and 15 minutes per game in a season where he scored double digits only 5 times in 28 appearances, was held under 10 minutes in 7 of those appearances, and was fully benched twice. I don’t care if he went home to Michael Jordan rubbing his balls every night, that is not a person suited for the NBA. For your amusement, I put together a list on twitter of Dayton Flyers sophomores over the last 10 years who averaged 5ppg, it reads exactly how you think it reads….

This was my long way of saying: if his name was Kostas Jones, he would just be a lanky ass dude coming into his own on a mediocre A10 team. But alas, since his name is Antetokounmpo, that automatically means every NBA scout needs to justify his presence on the draft board by saying he’s a “project”. This is (of course) not based in any reality whatsoever, but it has nonetheless been comical to watch NBA scouts bullshit their way through his scouting report as if they have watched a single Dayton game this year (spoiler: they haven’t). The idea Kostas can flourish in the NBA is built on the principle of what “could be” not what actually is.

In regards to how this pertains to Dayton, the kid clearly has absolutely no interest in going to school and (like Archie Miller) I never got the feeling for one second in his two years that he actually wanted to be in Dayton. The prospect of him staying all four years was non-existent, so at the very least he left at a time where it will cause minimal blow to the roster as a whole, and we can all be thankful for that. Regardless of how this season turned out for him personally, or UD collectively, I don’t think he was ever coming back for a third year either way. Moving on.

Staying with the theme of the Europeans formerly on the roster, it was also announced that Matej Svoboda will not be returning to the sunny campus along Brown St as well. If you did not have a chance to read the article that Father Time put in the DDN, I conveniently linked it for you here. 

While there are plenty of nuggets to chew on in this article, I was fairly impressed with Matej’s self-awareness and emotions towards leaving UD. Midway through the season it became apparent to even the mild-basketball-watcher that Svoboda simply did not belong at this level of play, and in a surprise twist, he actually knew it! Going as far as to tell Anthony Grant he did not want to “hold the team back” during the rebuild. I have to applaud the stone cold moxie from the Czechie. He got a free year of schooling he probably won’t use and more than likely got more hot, white, American ass than he will see for the rest of his life. That’s a good year in my book, safe travels back to the motherland Matej. I will always remember that one step back jumper in A10 play.

The two departures that were imminent by the beginning of February were those of Xeyrius Williams and Jordan Pierce.

After the dust began to settle this season, the picture of Xeyrius Williams’ situation became clearer to those listening carefully. When the season started, the Mr and Mrs gave Coach Grant a talking-to about what their sons role on the team would be, and didnt want him losing playing time to a kid “because of his last name” (their words, not mine). You can imagine how much guys like Anthony Grant love getting lectured by parents of college students, and the season was set in motion. The BBR was able to get our greasy paws on a conversation involving someone who knows the X-man, um, quite personally, and needless to say this particular person was Mad On The Internet and putting a little truth through a spin cycle of their own:

Lot to unpack here. I’ll let you do the speculatin’.

In the case of Jordan Pierce, there really isn’t much speculatin’ to be done. To me personally, Archie Miller did this guy a bit of a disservice convincing him he could play college ball at this level, and Anthony Grant was more or less left to deal with it. All year we heard reports that Pierce refused to run sprints, didn’t take part and flat-out just didn’t care. Again, I don’t go to practice, what do I know?

And finally we get to the saddest departure; BBR fan-favorite (and my personal favorite Dayton Flyer) John Crosby. From what I was told, Crosby’s effort over the course of the season prompted Anthony Grant to give him the old “you can come back and finish up, but you won’t be playing” chat. With his two options very clearly outlined, John has decided that he just wants to hoop. I think any fan of the Flyers can appreciate that Crosby came back to UD this year to bet on himself and compete for the starting PG role. It didn’t work out, so he’ll play out his last year of eligibility elsewhere. Since John was (not even arguably) the most popular player on this here blog by you, our scoundrel readers, I did reach out last week, and (after exchanging a few DMs) John assured me there were no hard feelings and we scheduled our exit meeting at The Pine Club to tie one-off. He told me he had received an offer to play at UCF in Orlando, but gosh darn college kids change their minds so much these days, who knows!?

Personally I had hoped he would stick around to contribute next season in practice and get his degree, but that man loves his hoops. John Crosby gave this program 100% every time he touched the floor, and so I ask you not to remember the 96 turnovers he committed in 96 games. It is all but a memory now. Dayton will never forget you, John.

So given that all this shit has gone down and people start to get cranky with me when I reach 2000 words, that is everything we know about the departures of the Dayton Flyers before open recruiting begins on April 5th. Anthony Grant has his work cut out for him. The UD starting lineup as of this writing would (hypothetically) be: Dwayne Cohill, Jalen Crutcher, (some combination of) Jordan Davis, Ryan Mikesell, and Trey Landers with Josh Cunningham. Ya. November is well beyond the horizon. I’ll post an article or two over the offseason when developments happen. Stay #LOWD

Sully

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

6 comments

  • Kid Flyer

    March 28, 2018 at 5:57 PM

    Awesome post. Thanks for the offseason report and inside info. Day of Departure. What a debacle. The X thing is pretty tragic.

    Kostas would get crushed in the G League right now. He needs to put on 40-50 lbs. to play at that level. He will end up playing in Greece… unless LaVar Ball makes something happen in Lithuania due to KA’s potential star power as GF 2.0.

    I just hope we don’t end up with a bunch of scrappy 911 JUCO transfers with tatted sleeves, dreads and man buns because they will sell out on D but shoot 60% from the free throw line.

    So you think Trey would be 6th man with the existing group? Hoping Cohill starts immediately. He is really a 2 as is Jordan Davis. Hopefully they will figure out a solution there without Jordan Davis heading for the door next.

    Reply

  • FlyerFaithful

    March 28, 2018 at 6:10 PM

    Great thoughts. Quick question: was it an oversight to omit Landers from the projected starting line up for 18-19?

    I’d imagine Crutcher, Davis, Cohill, Landers, Cunningham with Mikesell, Toppin, and the incoming Juco as bench at the moment.

    Anyone that thought we’d graduate Scoochie, Pollard, K. Davis, and Cooke from last year while Mikesell missed and Sam Miller booted without a huge step back is nutty. I think we’ve got to give AG 2 more years before judging the product fully.

    Reply

    • Sully

      March 28, 2018 at 6:14 PM

      Literally just completely forgot and fixed it. My bad.

      Reply

  • Angry John

    March 28, 2018 at 6:22 PM

    Hell of an article Sully. Some good old BBR inside scoops. Here are a few of my comments:
    1. I give credit to Grant for not putting up with the bullshit. Hit the road X! Don’t need bad attitudes and parents butting their nose in on the coach.
    2. On Kostas, it is a shame he did not stay around another year. Could Grant have gave him more playing time midseason ? Maybe ? Then again, I do not know what happened behind closed doors. If Kostas did not want to go to school, did not practice hard or copped an entitlement attitude. I would say it is best he left. Grant does not have to put up with that high maintenance shit. Kostas is not even close to being ready for the NBA. 3. I am a bit troubled by having five scholarship opennings due to it being hard at UD to find three to five talented players in the Spring period. Maybe he should have have kept Crosby as the third point guard due to the numbers problem, plus John is a good guy. Overall, I give Grant credit for having high standards that need to be met. If players do not want to meet those expectations, then they need to take their acts elsewhere.

    Reply

  • The Legend of Paris Warron

    March 30, 2018 at 11:04 AM

    Great article yes. The main issue from the outside is that Coach Grant never seemed to be able to find the MAGIC to get this group to jell on and off the Court. Kept waiting for them to come together and never did. Instead it was SPLINTERED worse as the year went on. There is NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL when being a Coach/Parent/Leader of TEENAGE 20 SOMETHING KIDS. But the secret in being a GREAT Coach/Parent’Leader is to find the niche and mix that works. Some kids need benched and disciplined….others need kissed and coddled. The same is MY WAY OR HIGHWAY concept ran out of gas around the time Clinton and Monica smoked cigars. The advent of social media and the intstant constant gratification stimuli of the 21st century means that leaders sometimes need to ADJUST or ADAPT.
    Its a dang shame that couldn’t cajole one more year out of Kostas……if he has any of his brothers DNA in him at all……..we would have had a player unseen around these parts at least since ROSEY and maybe NEVER.
    Giannis is jumping over people in the NBA on alley opp dunks…..Kostas has the same genes??.
    ANTHONY GRANT UD CLASS OF 1987 is NOT gonna be fired next year so get used to him for a while longer.
    Only time will tell as the excuse of GETTING OWN PLAYERS is not gonna wear out for at least 3 seasons (or more).
    Will Stormy Daniels ever have sex again with Fatso Donald Trump??……who knows for sure??

    Reply

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