It was necessary to hold off writing the St. Joe’s recap until Wednesday evening’s games were over in the A10, because a lot had to shake out, and the conference race got a whole clearer in regards to who will matter and who’s just happy to be here. Let’s clear the air on a few things relating UD to the conference race before we get to the latest Flyers conquest.
With the upcoming weekend marking the midpoint of the A10 season, below is the current standings, as well as my perceived “cut line” for teams that are only playing to spoil some fun in Brooklyn, and can only be a nuisance from here on out.
A few thoughts:
It’s safe to say at this point that whoever wins the league is currently residing north of this line. It’s also a more than reasonable assumption to say the top 4 teams heading to Brooklyn will be some combination of these squads. If you came to this blog post wanting to hear how UMass or Rhodey can win it all, I am sorry, better luck next year dudes.
While most of us knew it at the time, the George Mason loss at home will be coming back to haunt the Flyers eventually. The Patriots are off to a completely unexpected, yet blazing hot start to conference play, and will own the tiebreaker over UD for the remainder of the season given that no return trip is on the schedule.
The Saturday midpoint is shaping up to be the best conference day to date. SLU will be traveling to Rhodey to see who bounces back after both suffered a loss on Wednesday night, Mason will be heading down to the cafenasium in Richmond to prove they belong at the top of the race against VCU, and UD will be hosting a shockingly important tilt with the upstart Duquesne Dukes from ya boy’s hometown. If Wednesday shook the conference up, Saturday might be the first indicator of who’s forreal. I’m excited, but I also bear the cross of enjoying A10 hoops, so here we are.
If you haven’t noticed yet by the tone of the opening, Saturday is a BIG fucking game for UD. The Dukes have been one of the biggest surprises of the year in the D1 level, and if you haven’t done it yet, here’s a look at the back half of UD’s schedule. Disclaimer: it’s unkind.
So after looking at this, you can surmise that it is absolutely pivotal for UD to keep their momentum before the first installment of The Cup on Tuesday. If you’re still wondering just how good or bad this Flyers team really is, we will soon find out.
In closing, the George Mason loss was rather inconvenient, but UD still fully controls their own destiny in the conference down the stretch. The home/home with SLU, URI and DUQ will be what determines how relevant they are in the conference race, and the games against VCU and Davidson consequently will tell us if they’re capable of winning it.
Ok, enough conference talk, let’s talk Tuesday’s game.
St. Joe’s came out red hot (as opponents often do at UD Arena for whatever reason) and after missing their first shot, would make the next 6, with 5 coming from Charlie Brown. Fan unrest quickly grew…
I never thought I would say I hate Charlie Brown…Thanks a bunch, St Joe’s..
— Kim Petrick (@TheNovel_Kberly) January 30, 2019
It was fairly obvious coming into this matchup that stopping Charlie Brown would be paramount to a UD win, but that became even more obvious after he scored the first 10 points for SJU over the games opening 2:38. So Anthony Grant decided to go to freshman Dwayne Cohill to lock him up, and it ended up being the difference in the game, as young Dwayne would hold the cartoonish Charlie Brown to just 2 points while on the floor the rest of the evening. This Jablo interview is now available to put in the recap because of how long I took to write it:
— David Jablonski (@DavidPJablonski) January 31, 2019
In hindsight, Cohill’s defense was the catalyst that sparked the run for UD to get back in the game, after they found themselves down 9, halfway through the first. If Cohill was the catalyst, Obi Toppin was the end result. From the 10:25 mark to the 4:25 mark, the score was Obi: 8, Hawks: 0 – part of a 14-0 run that allowed the Flyers to enjoy a 9-point advantage at the half.
— John Bedell (@JBedellWHIO) January 30, 2019
Around the 90 second mark in the first and the Flyers up 6, I found myself praying UD would finally close a half strong, and they did. Going 2-for-1 in the final minute to go +3 and extend the lead. As it turned out in the second half, they would need it.
One of the major themes of this UD team this year has been letting mediocre competition hang around, and in this case, come back from the grave when they ought to be dead and buried. Tuesday was no different. The Flyers went +3 in the first 5 minutes, and then inexplicably let a hobbled Hawks team to rattle off a 15-3 run over the ensuing 5 minutes to tie the game at 50. Make no mistake, this is the type of bullshit that will get you beat against even decent competition. As we all know by now, St Joe’s is not decent competition. Trying to understand why UD gives up these kinds of runs consistently is a talk for another day, but the reality is that this 5 minute stretch – along with the first 10 of the opening half (15 minutes total) saw SJU outscore UD 41-20.
In the other 25 minutes of gameplay, UD absolutely dominated to the tune of 55-23. With the aforementioned upcoming schedule and formidable foes, it is absolutely critical that the Flyers figure out how to put the knife in teams when they smell blood. Playing soft for 5 minutes in the second half will get you beat in St Louis, in Kingston, RI, and in Davidson, NC. You can bet your ass on it. (I’m not even bringing up Amherst!!)
But again, conversations for another night. On Tuesday, the 50-50 tie would be met with an even larger dose of Obi – scoring 9 consecutive Flyers points in 3 minutes that would allow Dayton to never look back. Joes did their best to hover within 7 points for the remainder of the stretch, but Dwayne Cohill added a few key buckets and the FT shooting of the home team would close things out for a rather non-climactic 11-point win. Frankly, just what the doctor ordered for this team at home before an important game on Saturday.
The team has already closed the book on the Joes game and had their open practice this afternoon (Thursday) ahead of Duquesne, so let’s get to the takes and getcha outta here. (This is the type of sentence I type when I check word count and it says I’m over 1000 words while still talking about the game)
Grant’s move to matchup Cohill on Charlie Brown defensively was the difference in the game.
From the moment DC went in the game, you could tell Brown’s rhythm was thrown, and he had to work harder for shots. Like we said in the recon, and above, Charlie Brown going for 30 was just about the only way SJU was going to beat UD at home, and luckily Dwayne ensured that wasn’t going to happen. After the game, Grant said the team was prepared to see a lot of threes from the Joe’s lineup, but after the majority of their shots were falling in the first few minutes, he wanted to make a quick adjustment to give the team some energy. It was nice to hear that Grant trusts his lone true freshman to provide that energy on the court.
What’s with Anthony Grant’s reluctance to call timeouts?
That’s it, I don’t have anything else to add, it’s just puzzling. He’s been doing it since he got here.
Obi Toppin showed the dominance we all knew he could have inside this version of the Atlantic 10 conference.
The numbers speak for themselves: 25 points, 12 rebounds (FIVE offensive!!) and a pair of assists on 11-for-14 shooting in 26 minutes of honest work.
How in the hell does Obi not start? I mean it’s getting laughable… I know we were all called out last week and we’re supposed to be all pro Grant and shit but you have to be an idiot not to start this guy
— tman (@tmantheoriginal) January 30, 2019
In playing devil’s advocate (as I sometimes like to do) Obi said after the game that he prefers coming off the bench so he can get a good look at the defense and how they’re playing Josh. Not only did I find this answer incredibly mature for a RS Freshman, it was an interesting way to look at how Grant prefers to use Obi. While I, myself, have never understood why others put an importance on the starting lineup, I’m going to plant my flag in the “Obi as the 6th man” territory for now. I’ve found myself liking the quick spark it can provide if the Flyers find themselves in an early hole, something they’ve done numerous times this season. AG was fairly open after the game additionally saying that the plan in the second half was to get him the ball, hell or high water. Which brings me to my next point:
Trey Landers just gotta stop shooting threes, man.
Just quit it. Trey is 0-for-10 in A10 play and has only hit 2 threes since the Flyers got back from the Bahamas (that was in November) on 24 attempts. You could fit a Volkswagen between Trey and the next closest defender when he’s on the perimeter. He has many strengths, shooting treys (I had to) isn’t one of them.
Chip Mikesell continues to shine.
Another 21-point effort, his second in 4 games on 7-for-15 shooting. If Dayton is going to pull off consecutive big wins down the stretch in conference play, they will need these types of contributions from the Chipster. He really has become the backbone of this team. I really never thought I would be marveling at Mikesell’s ability to chase down a play for a shot block, but here we are. He’s just been doing so many thing well lately (including consistently being called for questionable fouls).
Despite the home loss to GMU, you have to like where the Flyers are in the conference race right now. However, all of that will change with a loss on Saturday. UDs depth concern will certainly rear its ugly head at a later date, but that’s not an issue against arguably the only other team in the A10 who’s more short-handed than our Flyers.
Lastly, it has come to our attention at the BBR that certain younger members of this fanbase are resisting the two simple battle cries that have been a part of UD for ages now, so I end this recap with a very simple reminder of the only two rules we have, as Dayton Flyers fans.
— David Jablonski (@DavidPJablonski) January 30, 2019
Fucking right, John R. Wear Red, Be LOWD, we’ll see you on Saturday.