Last year, when people asked me about the identity of the Dayton basketball team, I struggled to come up with a concise answer to the question. I do not have the same problem with the latest version of the Dayton Flyers. For better or for worse (at the realistic midway point of the season) the Flyers, like their coach, have quite a rigid identity.
Down 2 – 4:30 to play (neutral)
Up 7 – 6 minutes to play at home
Down 3 – 7 minutes to play (neutral)
Tie game – 2:29 to play on the road
These are the scenarios the Dayton Flyers have found themselves in over the course of the season that have led to 4 losses. If we are all under the consensus belief that Auburn and Virginia are better teams than Dayton (if you are not under that belief – time to see yourself out, this won’t be getting any better) these are the four games standing between 14-3/13-4 on the NCAA tournament bubble, and where UD currently sits: 11-6, with at-large hopes a distant memory and all important opportunities sufficiently squandered. Whether you want to blame Grant, the short bench, or bad luck, these are the stone cold facts. The 2018-19 Dayton Flyers are talented; they have a prospering sophomore PG, an A10 POY frontrunner, an A10 Rookie of the Year frontrunner, a rotation that goes 7 or 8 deep, and an inability to close out games against good competition. We’re 17 games in – this is UD’s identity. Whether that changes from now until the first week of March, is anyone’s guess.
Wednesday night at the Siegel Center was the same shit, different day. While watching UD road games, I hold myself to two infallible rules: make sure a beer is close by and grind for every 4 minutes – media timeout to media timeout. They all count.
The first 10 minutes was your standard back-and-forth from the A10’s elite; and we got to the midway point of the first with a 16-15 VCU advantage. Over the next 3 minutes, Grant would trot out the lineup of Josh-Mikesell-Davis-Cohill-Policelli, and proceed to give up a 9-2 run, before Grant finally capitulated, and called a TO after realizing he would not be getting bailed out by the 8-minute media TO. Our pal Adam said it best:
The willingness to go so many possessions with that lineup is a product of Anthony Grant’s NBA coaching days. Can’t do that in college. There aren’t enough possessions in the game.
— Adam (@adam_gutheil) January 17, 2019
In my god’s honest opinion, I think this stretch was one of the key factors that did UD in on Wednesday. In an environment like the Siegel Center, against an opponent you struggle with, you absolutely cannot close your eyes and hope for the best for 3 minutes with your worst collective lineup. It’s an NBA tendency to “let things play out” but you just do not have that kind of convenience in the college game. That’s what Grant did, and luckily in the final 7 minutes of the half, one player would make a ridiculous string of big plays to close the gap to 1 at the half. That man was Chip Mikesell, who finally came out of the bag to provide the spark the Flyers desperately needed.
The Chipster recorded one basket, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and a block during the final 5 minutes, and was as disruptive on both ends of the floor as I can ever recall. It set the stage for an absolutely wild second half, considering the first 20 minutes yielded 37-36 VCU, and the next 18 would produce a 33-32 UD advantage, to knot the score at 69.
Ok look, you didn’t come here to read me hash out, play-by-play what went down in the second half. Josh and Obi got into foul trouble, limiting the lineup combinations in the last 12 minutes, and VCU’s defense was effective enough to force 12 turnovers on the night, 5 of which came from UD’s Ol’ Reliable, Josh Cunningham.
With that in mind, VCU plays a particularly frustrating brand of basketball, and I have never been able to figure out why officiating can’t keep up with it. If you foul a guy bringing a ball up the floor 5 times over the course of ten seconds, then 5 fouls occurred. How they have been able to make this a “brand” to CBB fans as”tough-nosed defense” is beyond me. Its a constant display fouling so you can get away with the cheap stuff, but it sure works. HAVOC is built on the principle of “well they can’t call everything” because often times, they don’t.
Of course, the reason this style is currently working for VCU, is because they go 11 deep almost every night, and did on Wednesday. There is hardly an amount of foul trouble that will plague them, and you saw it on display. Five players (out of 11) on the VCU roster would finish with 3 or 4 fouls, that’s absolutely insane. One guy (PJ Byrd) checked into the game for 9 minutes and committed 3 fouls. No one notices that kind of uselessness when you can constantly funnel 11 guys through the grinder. I hope I’ve sufficiently painted a picture.
That’s not to say the officiating was the cause of Dayton’s demise on this night, it certainly was not. All of the back-and-forth, and foul trouble, and missed opportunities boiled down to this three-minute stretch that was perfectly profiled by Jablo here in the DDN. I wish anything else truly mattered from this game, but it doesn’t. How UD handled the last 3 minutes of the game was downright pitiful, and there’s a big L on the schedule for the rest of 2019 to serve as a reminder. I truly hope this team can grow and learn from a loss like this, because if they don’t there will be plenty more where that came from in the Atlantic 10 before all is said and done.
Give credit where it’s due, VCU had one of the hottest shooting nights of their year, and if you HAD to pick one thing that did UD in, that was it. VCU was ranked #328 out of 353 coming into this game at shooting the long ball (29%) and finished 9-19 (48%) Wednesday night, including the shot below which hurt the most.
Anthony Grant blew it
I know you didn’t come here for the fluff. Go back and watch the last 2:30 if you really want to, but I wouldn’t advise it. VCU tied the score with 2:29 to play, and with THREE timeouts, THREE, Anthony Grant let 20 seconds tick off the clock before calling TO. In absolute fairness for those unfamiliar with the rules, AG cannot personally call a timeout on the floor, it must be done by the players, but how anyone on the floor or coaching staff thought letting 20 seconds bleed off the clock in a tie game was a good idea is really lost on me. Marcus Evans made a ridiculous shot late in the shot clock about a minute later that would prove to be the game winner, but it was a direct result of Grant not putting his guys in the best position to win. Luckily for Grant, he was able to take one of his timeouts with him on the ride home, as I assume was his intention all along. Young Grant weighed in on the subject as well (we don’t see age at BBR, just a number)….
Just being honest, that was the most poorly coached final three minutes of basketball I’ve ever watched. Dayton’s halfcourt offense was horrific nearly the entire game, but yikes, that ending was something else.
— Grant Kelly (@GrantKelly07) January 17, 2019
The three-point shooting by Mikesell and Landers is starting to hurt UD in a very real way.
Collectively, they went 0-for-5 on Wednesday. Against UMass, Mikesell was 0-for-2. Against GW and Richmond they were 1-for-4. Against GA Southern, they were 2-for-8, Presby 0-for-4, Western Michigan 0-for-6, Tulsa 0-for-7. You get the point. They’re left open for a reason. Gotta figure this shit out, dudes.
The world saw how vulnerable Dayton will be when they get in foul trouble.
This isn’t the most revolutionary take I’ve ever made on the blog but it bears repeating none the same. When you run a 7 or 8 man rotation, you’re royally fucked when you get in foul trouble. Credit Mike Rhoades for knowing he had the depth to run at UD all night, and then to affectively put it in place to help turn the tide of the game.
Another great night for Jordan Davis
JD kept his hot streak alive finishing the night 2-for-4 from deep and 4-for-9 inside the arc, good enough for 17 points. He didn’t turn the ball over, filled in at the PG spot when needed and made almost all 35 minutes productive. You have to love the trajectory he’s on right heading into the teeth of conference play.
The quick turnaround will work to UD’s advantage.
The Flyers only get two days off and then they’re headed to the Land of the Yeti: Olean, NY for a Saturday afternoon tilt with a far inferior Bonaventure team. Just the type of game to get your mind off a loss and get back on track, if you ask me.
Below is a chart of coaching records in games decided by less than 5 points in the last 15 seasons, AG’s name is circled…
This win should not take the wind out of anyone’s sails, nor should it be ignored. You can be both; a diehard fan, and still realistically point out that this team will not be in the at-large discussion this year because of their own shortcomings, both on the floor and on the bench. I started the recap with UD’s holistic identity as a team, and after a loss like this at VCU, you have to accept the whole package for what it is if we are to continue down this path as fans for 13+ games. The same is said for Anthony Grant to this point. He’s a clearly a great recruiter and a great face of UD basketball, he’s clearly got the program headed in the right direction, and he clearly is not getting the job done late in games.
How quickly the last part gets turned around will probably determine what kind of articles get written over the next couple years. Don’t you quit on me now!
I’m glad we bested Dayton. Weirdo fanbase with a broken record fetish about “arena size.”
— Richmond Good Life (@RichmondGL) January 17, 2019
See you on Saturday, you fucking weirdos!
Wear Red, stay #LOWD