I really just dont know, guys
As of this writing, Dayton basketball is a mere 26 days away, so I got to supposin’ it’s time to talk about what we have here.
It’s true what you’ve heard, DURRELL Davis has moved on from the University of Dayton, degree in-hand, and a new chapter of hoops must begin in his stead. At the very least, the expectations for this season (on the whole) will be far more tempered from the masses than last, simply due to the sobering 14-17 finish the Flyers endured during the last campaign. One thing is for certain: DURRELL will be missed by all, but we must press on to the basketball-doing at hand.
What is most important this season is the larger picture of how this team will impact the narrative that is being written about the tenure of Anthony Grant. In the current climate of college basketball, and specifically the Atlantic 10, year 2 is generally when every program expects to see signs of life towards improvements with their new coach. This season should be no different. At a bare minimum, getting back to a record above 500 is passable, but winning 20 games should be the goal, with an NIT appearance coming as a bittersweet consolation to garnish our rebuilding years.
Now, since we know the players and the team managers read this here blog, I find it a perfect time to state the obvious:
Not one rational person on this earth is picking the 2018-19 Dayton Flyers to win the Atlantic 10 Conference Title. Not a single one. (<although I really struggled to put in Andy Katz’s prediction because it is absolute dog shit from top to bottom that lacks any research into the subject) I digress.
Call it bulletin board material, or disrespect, or just flat-out honesty, but on paper this is not a team capable of winning the conference title. If by some grace of God that feat is achieved, it will be mentioned with the 2014 Elite 8 run as one of the most unlikely events in Dayton basketball history. You didn’t come to this blog for the fluff, demz are just the cold hard facts.
With that said, the current ceiling for the upcoming season is most certainly a top 4 conference finish, however, the dark basement floor of expectations lies around 8 or 9 wins in conference play. That is a long way of saying this season is harder to predict than most, simply given the perceived parity in the conference, and the uncertainty of what the newcomers on the Flyers will produce. Ok, well, nice guys say “parity” to remain objective, guys like us say the Atlantic 10 is going to be a giant heap of mufflers in a junkyard; few will emerge as useful, many will go unnoticed for the rest of time. The conference was bad last year, and its frankly looking like it could be collectively worse this time around. Still, pencil Fordham in at 14 tho, some things have to be the way they are.
What we do know now, as Flyers fans, is that the transition from Ryan “don’t call me Archie” Miller is over and 2018-19, aforementioned, will be Anthony Grant’s team. It’s very hard to be overly sentimental about the departures of John Crosby, Xeyrius Williams and Kostas Antetokoumpo, after watching a team limp to the finish line at 14-17 with constant locker room issues and off-the-court storylines. If there was stinky poop last season, there will be no excuse for it to resurface again this time around.
What we do know now is that Josh Cunningham will go into the season as one of the 5 best players in the conference. You won’t find a logical college basketball mind that disagrees with that opinion now. JC has had an extremely rocky road to get to his senior season, but to say it is primed to be his finest would be an understatement, coming off a full Junior season averaging 15.8 ppg to go with 8.4 rpg. When Anthony Grant took the UD job, Josh Cunningham could have easily departed for a multitude of understandable reasons. He didn’t, and this upcoming 5th year season is likely why. He will be counted on to be the production leader and drive the ship every night throughout the course of the season, and that’s a decent place to start when trying to dissect this team in the preseason.
What else do we know? Trey Landers will be back, big spoon in hand, ready to eat. The linebacker-turned-basketball-player will be looking to build on a sophomore season where he averaged 11.3 ppg and 4.1 rpg. While Trey will not be counted on to entirely shoulder the load, the success of the Flyers this season will largely hinge on his ability to get to the bucket and disrupt the paint. The Atlantic 10, as a whole, is shifting towards quicker, up-tempo basketball that stretches the floor with athletes as opposed to the traditional 1-5 approach, and guys like Trey Landers (along with Obi Toppin) are leading that charge. 10 years ago, a bulky 6’4 shooting guard/small forward could get lost in the shuffle, these days it will make sure the Flyers have depth and options for buckets when pushing the pace becomes necessary.
More stuff we know…Chip Mikesell is fucking back. Someone make sure those new hips are oiled and greased before every game and you can be sure white rain will be coming down early and often in the Arena. The first Mikesell bucket on opening night will be a giant sweater orgasm and I’m fully here for it. All this talk has clearly gone to Chip’s head over the last few months, he’s been hunting down the cameras at practices and then violently ripping his shirt off for shooting drills.
Real winners have nothing to hide. Welcome back Chip.
The last thing we know is that Jalen Crutcher will be asked to steer the ship, night in and night out. A lot of fans last year we’re quick to draw the comparison to Scoochie’s freshman year when speaking about Crutcher, simply due to recency, but it was not entirely fair. As most know, Scoochie’s freshman year was the Elite 8 season, and he really wasn’t asked to carry a very heavy load beyond filling in for Khari Price, and making sure the ball stayed moving to the other playmakers while he was on the floor.
Realistically, you should be comparing Jalen Crutcher’s freshman season to that of Juwan Staten’s in 2010-11 because they are inherently much similar.
Above is the side by side comparison of those Freshman seasons, and to be quite honest, both overall UD teams were similarly mediocre, which provides a great sample set for the individual outputs of both PGs.
Both were asked to be on the floor about 30 minutes per night, and put up anywhere from 7 to 10 shots per contest. Staten was a more efficient 2-point shooter due to his tendency to drive to the bucket, while Crutcher took more spot-up jumpers and threes. The differing styles averaged themselves out over the long haul, as you can see, because both were eventually contributing about 4 or 5 assists a night to go along with 8-10 points. Crutcher didn’t give out quite as many assists, but he also did not turn the ball over nearly as much. If you sat these seasons down side by side, I think I would be more inclined to take the freshman PG who can shoot the 3, wouldn’t you? That’s saying something about what UD has in Jalen after year one.
Naturally you can see where I’m going with this….Juwan Staten went on to transfer to WVU, and was preseason Big 12 Player of the Year for his senior season after averaging 18 ppg in his junior year, eventually finishing his SR year at 14 ppg. So while these two PGs have vastly different styles of scoring, the consistent output from Crutcher can certainly be looked at as an indicator of things to come during his time at UD. Simply put, when you look back at last season, that I can even compare it to what Juwan Staten did as a freshman is unbelievably impressive, and I truly think the ceiling for Crutcher is as high as any guard who’s walked through our doors in the last 20 years. Expect the kid from Memphis to take a huge step up this year with more on his plate to eat.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not mention Jordan Davis, although his role on the team now is largely unknown, mainly due to the dry spells and disappearing acts we got from him last season. JD definitely had his moments, scoring double digits 12 times, (including the 21-point breakout game when UD absolutely pantsed VCU in the Arena) but he also scored 3 or less in 9 games. Bottom line: that shit is totally fine in your freshman year, but Anthony Grant (and the Flyer Faithful in general) should certainly expect JD to take a step forward. It will be interesting to see how his game develops from a defensive-minded spot up shooter to a guy the Flyers can count on with the ball in his hands.
Alright, that’s enough to wet your beak for now. I’m jacked for the Flyers season and re-energized after losing steam towards the end of last seasons mess and posting articles sporadically.
In the coming weeks, I’ll give you jamokes the rundown on our new guys, their stories, and what their deal is and shit, so look out for that. The 10th year of the Blackburn Review is here and if this ship starts sinking we’re all going down together.
Stick around for the ride and stay #LOWD
The LOWD ambassador of Chicago, Sully has spent his life tirelessly watching UD hoops. Welcomer of all takes, hot and cold.