Before we head into an impressively comprehensive breakdown of tomorrow’s opponent, the atrocious Eagles of Coppin State, allow me to provide a few takeaways from UD’s season-opening victory over North Florida:
- We don’t do overreaction on this site, go to the message boards if you crave bombast. That being said, there’s plenty of reason to be excited over the POTENTIAL of Obi Toppin. First and foremost, the kid is a wide-bodied athletic freak, and you can never have too many of those on your roster. What stuck out most about Toppin’s debut was his hands, they are excellent for a man of his stature, motherfucker got them sticky paws. Additionally, Obi knows his game and realizes where on the floor he can have the biggest impact. One of the most frustrating aspects of last year’s team was watching 6’10” Kostas Antetokounmpo float out to the three-point line for a shot attempt (where he shot 13% for the season). I don’t think we are going to see Toppin try to do things he isn’t capable of this season. How he plays when he is paired with Cunningham remains to be seen, but you certainly have to be excited by Obi’s coming out party.
- Ryan Mikesell won’t hurt you. Although the 6’7″ junior is still a disaster when he puts the ball on the floor, he does enough to validate his playing time (although 35 minutes does seem like a bit much for the Chipster). He shot the ball confidently, displayed excellent decision-making that led to six assists and even played solid defense. Aside from the newcomers, Mikesell’s form was the biggest question mark coming into this season. It seems the man with fossils for hips will be just fine this year.
- Dwayne Cohill and Jhery Matos had typical opening nights for newcomers. Both made some plays to make you take notice, Cohill’s handles were particularly notable, but neither really seemed to get into the flow of the contest. Obviously their development will be essential this season, as both Cohill and Matos seemed poised to get around 15-20 minutes per game. No word on what kept Angie Policelli’s son firmly plastered to the bench, you are free to draw your own conclusions.
Now then, let’s take a quick look at Saturday night’s antagonist, Coppin State.
Coppin State is coached by former Maryland standout Juan Dixon, which means this is one of the few times Anthony Grant’s counterpart would give him buckets if they played one-on-one. Dixon enters his second season after “leading” Coppin State to an apocalyptic 5-27 record last season. (Prior to being hired at Coppin State, Dixon went 3-25 in one season as the women’s basketball coach at the University of the District of Columbia. I’m thinking the interview process at Coppin State isn’t too rigorous. “You played in the NBA and are well known locally. Just don’t fuck students and I think we are good here!”)
The good news for the denizens of the Sweater Centre? The Eagles are still horrendous and will more than likely be the worst team Dayton plays all season — and that includes Capital. Dixon’s club was picked ninth in Preseason MEAC poll, which is like being not quite the smelliest person on an EgyptAir flight. The Eagles already racked up a 85-63 loss at Wisconsin, so they are primed for another pink-socking. And hope for a blowout you must, for it may be one of the few opportunities to see Jack Westerfield flash some flesh this season.
Senior wing Lamar Morgan and sophomore guard Dejuan Clayton drive the bus for the Eagles. Clayton is a shifty lefty, a streaky shooter and an Afro and mutton chops connoisseur. Morgan is Coppin’s most consistent outside shooter, all eight of his shot attempts came from behind the arc against Wisconsin, capable of opening the floor for the Eagles’ slashers. Taqwain Drummond is a 6’4″ sophomore that will get shots up in a hurry. 5’11” freshman guard Ibn Williams got a big pair of balls on him, evidenced by a team-high twelve shot attempts in his first game in an Eagles uniform. You can guarantee Williams got some side-eyes during and after the game.
I’m going to let Dixon’s quote about freshman wing Nigel Marshall speak for itself.
The steal of the century. When we first laid eyes on him as a staff, the first thing we said was ‘Baby LeBron.’ I’m not taking anything away from LeBron James. This kid is 6-5 and built like an ox. He’s an elite athlete and he is just scratching the surface of his potential and I’m looking forward to his development on both ends of the floor.
That’s, uh, quite the statement from Coach Dixon.
The situation at Coppin State is so dire that one of their scholarship players is a graduate transfer who happens to be the younger brother of assistant coach John Auslander. Auslander’s brother, Kent, was a WALK-ON at Maryland, quit after a season and became the team’s manager before graduating last December. Auslander played half of last season and for some reason came back for the 2018-19 season. I wish Kent Auslander had a reality show, it would be beyond entertaining. I don’t know what is more fascinating — that Auslander convinced Dixon to give his younger brother, who by all accounts would make a nice rec player, a scholarship or that Auslander convinced his starchy brother to come to Coppin State. John Auslander’s silver tongue could make millions selling timeshares.
Coppin State looks and plays in a very MEAC-ian fashion. The Eagles are a subpar perimeter shooting team, have rangy athletic wings, are defensively indifferent and lack strong inside play. Dayton has had success against teams with this profile in years past, and tomorrow’s game should be no different.
My attentive research has revealed that the average score in UD’s three previous contests against Coppin State comes out to 65-44 Flyers. I’m not sure Dayton is as defensively adept as those Brian Gregory teams that beat the Eagles in the mid-aughts, credit where credit is due, but a twenty-point victory sounds about right to me. The Flyers should score a bushel of points against CSU, pay no mind. Astute observers like yours truly will be keyed in on the defensive end. If Dayton holds Coppin to under sixty points consider that an encouraging sign.
Lastly, Juan Dixon was on something called The Real Housewives of Potomac. Get it together, man. You were the Most Valuable Player of the Final Four and hung a banner at Maryland. My God.