Keeping with our tradition of being a 9-to-5 blog I wanted to write a quick post both recapping the big storylines of the Arch Baron Cup coming home, as well as taking a brief look ahead with the A10 tournament in Brooklyn just 3 weeks away, and the end of the season a mere 12 days from the time of this writing.
First things first, AG called Saturday a “character win” for the Flyers, and really, I couldn’t agree more. SLU came into the Arena with a top 50 defense nationally that routinely holds opponents under 65 points (8/14 games so far in A10 play). That defense translated to an atrocious offensive first half from the Flyers – one where they shot 33% from the field on 8-for-24 shooting and 3-for-11 from deep. It’s hard to pull anything overly optimistic from the offense in the first half as UD struggled to get the ball to Josh Cunningham, and settled for far too many shots from deep. Credit where its due to SLU, they executed the gameplan well in the first and made UD play the Billikens game for the better part of the first 14 minutes.
Of course, the “character” part of the character win from UD came in all the minutes that followed, 26 to be exact. The final 6 minutes of the first half saw SLU commit more turnovers (3) than points (2) and UD was able to scratch and claw their way to one of the more impressive halftime leads this season, even if the score was a dismal 43 points total – quite on-brand for the Arch Baron Cup, if you ask me.
The second half was one of the more impressive offensive outputs for Dayton this season, especially considering it came against a very capable defense. UDs last deficit would be 28-26, and after a Jalen 3-pointer at 17:52, the Flyers would never relinquish the lead the rest of the way. The best part in my eyes was watching the Flyers offense counter-punch every single time SLU would get within striking distance. The 8-for-24 in the first, turned into 16-for-24 in the second, and 3-for-11 from downtown turned into 7-for-11, bringing UD to a 50% shooting mark on the day across the board. In the last 8 minutes, SLU would never get closer than six, and even though UD did their damndest to miss half their throws from the line they made sure the Billikens death was slow and painful while remaining inevitable.
Of course, the obvious storyline here that we said countless times over the course of the week was: if UD wins the rebounding battle, they win the game. That’s it. It wasn’t wrong. SLUs 26 second chance points on 19 offensive rebounds from the first meeting turned into 4 second chance points on 9 offensive rebounds in the second. SLU is such a bad shooting team that it doesn’t really take a rocket scientist to figure out they will lose if you beat them on the glass. UD won the rebounding battle, they won the game, simple.
These are barely “hot takes” but it wouldn’t be a recap without the graphic, so…fine….
Dwayne Cohill is turning into a much-needed spark on the defensive end, but sadly my prediction of him getting his first 10-point game this past week was ill-advised. It’s coming soon for Dwayne, it feels like he’s improved with every game this year.
Mikesell, Crutcher and JD went 9-for-18 from deep in this one. I proclaim that UD will be extremely tough to beat in Brooklyn if these three guys can shoot 50% from deep. A10 coaches will undoubtedly give most of the attention in the game plan to the front court, so outside shooting will truly be the X-factor in whether or not UD is playing on Sunday for a chance to go dancing.
Josh should probably be taking more than 5 shots in a game. It didn’t hurt UD on Saturday, but if teams are continuously able to deny him the ball in the post it will make a difference on how efficient the Flyers are on offense. Nothing groundbreaking there. Sometimes your big man just can’t get the ball, it happens.
The big frosh, Obi, came down with one of his best rebounding nights of the year with 10 grabs to go along with 11 points. The transcendence he has made this year to become the backbone of the team has truly been something to watch. Right now, as a person who has followed the conference every day since November, you would be hard-pressed to make a case against Obi for both Newcomer of the Year AND A-10 first team. He’s been that good. Grant Golden (UR) and Cyril Langevine stick out as other big men in the conference who have been just as good, but rest assured no one down low has been better.
After the game, it was announced by the Harewood Horse Foundation that Jalen Crutcher was the player of the game, finishing with 17 points, 5 rebounds and 5 dimes. Hats off to the young Sophomore on his first Harewood Horse Trophy.
Ok, so now what? Many articles have been published in the last 48 hours saying Dayton is “trending up” on the bubble, but unfortunately, that’s all they’re doing. Friend of the blog, Lukas Harkins, put out a quick write-up that I felt was fairly accurate.
Here’s the hard truth: Currently the Atlantic 10 is ranked as the 13th best league from top-to-bottom in the country, behind the Mountain West, SoCon (who’s having an incredible year), MAC, WCC ….and Ivy League. That’s right, if you took all of the teams collectively in both conferences, the A10 would be below the Ivy League. It’s that bad.
This time of year, the best source for an aggregate of the bracket lives here, on BracketMatrix.com. Their site takes into account all the brackets being released in the country, and compiles them into a “consensus” list of who’s in and who’s out. Currently, Dayton sits between being the 10th and 14th team out of the field as of this writing, which means not only would they have to jump ten other teams, but one or two more would need to fall out of the field, and absolutely no one could steal a bid who was not previously considered in by winning their conference tournament.
If UD was to be in the at-large discussion, the absolute best they could do is be 24-10 (assuming win out until Sunday and lose to the best opponent, #40 Kenpom, VCU on Sunday) that still would not be enough to get UD in the field. Why? In this scenario, here are the best wins UD would have:
#52 Butler (Neutral), #72 Davidson (road and neutral) and #97 Georgia Southern.
Yep, that’s right, currently UD’s third best win on paper is Georgia Southern in their own building, and aside from Dayton, VCU and Davidson are the only other teams in the conference that could possibly supply them with another “top-100” win. With all due respect to the Eagles, no one on the committee is getting a chub over that one. There are simply too many missed opportunities on UDs schedule to make up for all of them at this point, and the A10 lacking quality wins is the main culprit. If you want to be a cheerleader for this program and give me some “rah-rah” about how they can still get in, that’s really all it is: being a cheerleader with no basis in reality or the metrics being presented by experts across the country. If Miss State, or Tulsa, or VCU had gone a different way we would certainly be singing a different tune, but they didn’t, and consequently the Flyers are playing for seeding in Brooklyn and a shot to play on Sunday. You can’t miss every opportunity you’re given and then complain the metrics aren’t falling your way.
In closing, UDs win against SLU went a LONG way in ensuring they will end up in the top 4 going to the Barclays Center. The Flyers currently sit alone in third place going into Tuesday’s game in Amherst, and if they take care of their own business this week, that will remain unchanged unless Davidson loses. There are far too many scenarios that can play out before next Monday to accurately depict how the A10 will shake out, so let’s just say the Flyers are still in a great spot to make noise in Brooklyn and I’ll send you on your way.
Wear Red, be LOWD, the next game will be here before you know it.