Below is an excerpt this morning from Bubble Banter on NBC Sports by Rob Dauster, who has been tracking the bubble every day for the past six weeks:
You can’t summarize Friday night’s contest any better than that. Dayton was on a three-game winning streak, controlled their own tiebreaker for the #2 seed in the conference, was starting to get rumblings of being on the bubble (how much you actually believe they were close to being “in” is between you and whatever god you claim) and had an absolutely packed house full of 13,500 raucous Flyers wearing red…and they fucking blew it. They blew it just like the Mississippi State game in November, they blew it like the Tulsa game in Connecticut a few weeks later, they blew it like the final seconds at VCU, they blew it like the first three minutes of the second half at The Arena against VCU. Every opportunity UD has been given this year to have a successful season that ends with a NCAA tournament bid has been blown, like it or not.
Sure, Trey Landers was less than six inches away from a completely different article being written today, but alas, demz the breaks (also it would’ve been his only points of the night if the tip had fallen). When you back yourself into a corner against shitty teams over and over and over throughout the course of the season, eventually you gon’ get burned, and that’s what happened last Friday. UD spent the entire second half playing catch-up against a Rhode Island team that lost to Fordham at home earlier this season, and was never able to get over the hump. Frankly, I don’t really give a shit who you blame this loss on. Anthony Grant took responsibility for not having the red and white ready, and outside of Chip Mikesell and Obi, no one in a Dayton uniform looked comfortable actually putting the basketball in the net.
Jordan Davis did his normal disappearing act, registering his eighth conference game under 10 points, the Flyers are 4-4 in those contests. As I mentioned, Trey didn’t even record a point during 19 minutes on the floor, and Jalen Crutcher turned the ball over six times while going 3-for-10 from the field. Basically, I’m saying there was plenty of stench to attribute to everyone on the UD side for this loss, don’t single anyone out and recognize that this team would be nowhere this year without the impressive rise of both Obi and Mikesell. They have both been spectacular almost every night during conference play.
As friend of the BBR, Adam, put it earlier this weekend: the beauty of a season like this is that everyone has gotten a little bit of what they’re looking for. Let me explain.
For a multitude of reasons (that I can’t get into while still staying at the promise of 1000 words) the fan base has split on Grant being the lifer for the job, and Grant being a few sandwiches short of a picnic when it comes to taking the UD basketball program to the next level. This season, you have gotten glimpses to vindicate both sides. AG has shown very obvious shortcomings in end-of-game situations, and is currently coaching a team with a nasty tendency to fall behind to lesser opponents. On the flip side, UD is welcoming four transfers (three from Power 5 programs) to the roster next year while graduating just one senior and will improve their regular season win total by (most likely!) 6 OR 7 wins and elevate themselves from ninth in the A10 a year ago to a likely third place finish this season. In the context of the holistic rebuild, this has undoubtedly been a successful season that has the Flyers trending in the right direction as a program, even without the tangible evidence they will eventually get there. But you see what I’m getting at, everyone has something to latch onto right now. This season has been exciting, it’s been frustrating, it’s been promising, it’s left me thinking this team is probably better than their record — all of it is true.
So now what? Well, honestly, the only thing the Flyers are playing for in the last two games this week (Josh’s Senior day vs La Salle and @DUQ) is a favorable start time in Brooklyn next weekend. If you’re a working stiff, it would behoove the Flyers to stay right where they are in the #3 spot because the three seed gets the last game of the night, ensuring that Flyer Nation will have plenty of time for Friday evening libations before the quarterfinal game. Without hurting my brain unraveling all the scenarios that could play out, if the Flyers win the last two games, they can finish no worse than where they are now, with a Davidson loss putting them back into the #2 seed. If they lose to La Salle on Wednesday at home? God help us all and I’ll write a separate post explaining the scenarios heading into the last day of A10 play on Saturday. Right now I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about that possibility.
As we head into the final week of the regular season, you just can’t help but be disappointed at how this year has transpired for Dayton. Sure, the record is an improvement. Yes, the future on paper looks bright. Yes, we have seen a completely unexpected rise from Obi (going from unknown RS to a likely A10 First-Team choice and runaway Rookie of the Year) as well as Chip Mikesell. But when you look back through the ten losses, and take into account that statistically this has been the worst collective A10 conference since 2007, isn’t it still safe to say this Dayton team has slightly underachieved to this point? Is Dayton a better team than Tulsa who’s currently 8-9 in the American? What about Oklahoma who’s 5-10 in the Big 12? George Mason? URI? SLU? Personally, I would take UD’s seven against any of those teams, and that is where the disappointment lies. They couldn’t get the job done against any of them when a bubble spot was somehow, in theory, there for the taking.
However you personally view this season in your own mind is fine by me, because one thing hails true regardless: UD is gonna have to win the whole fucking thing in Brooklyn.
Wear Red, be #LOWD
The LOWD ambassador of Chicago, Sully has spent his life tirelessly watching UD hoops. Welcomer of all takes, hot and cold.