It’s an early Christmas present for Flyer fan as the boys in red, always red, travel to Maui to participate in the premier early-season tournament on the college basketball docket. Everyone knows the drill by now, Dayton must win their first game against Georgia for this week to mean anything come March. A loss to the Dawgs and the pickings get slim, a win could mean potential matchups against Michigan State/Kansas/UCLA. The Flyers have only a few shots at making an impression before the conference slate begins, today is one of them.
I have watched three of Georgia’s four games this season, which should give you an indication of where my life is at. This included former Flyer John Crosby’s 22 point effort in Delaware State’s 100-66 loss to the Bulldogs. I still can’t believe Crosby traded in a Dayton degree for a Delaware State diploma. Not saying UD is an elite academic institution, but DSU makes Dayton look like a university rich English people send their kids to learn how to ride horses and colonize island nations.
Any synopsis of Georgia basketball begins with their five-star freshman, Anthony Edwards (19.3 ppg/6.0 reb). The Antman plays with the sort of detached bemusement often associated with one-and-done players. When he is fully locked in he is a dominant scorer capable of scoring in bunches. When he loses interest he settles for jump shots and quick threes. Rayshaun Hammonds (17.3 ppg/11 reb) showed flashes of brilliance a season ago, and finally appears to be putting it all together his junior season. There aren’t many players in the nation more reliant on the three-point shot than Bulldog guard Tyree Crump (12.3 ppg/32% 3fg). 34 of his 41 field-goal attempts have come from behind the line. Freshman guard Sahvir Wheeler (10 ppg/5.75 apg) has shown a lot of promise, he fell into Tom Crean’s clutches once Billy Kennedy was fired at Texas A&M.
Georgia has a similar resume as UD, four wins over some of the lesser talented teams in the country. The Dawgs are scoring 92 points per game, allowing their opponents to score 76 points a contest. The prescription for today’s game is low on defense with a possible offensive explosion that will remind local residents of Pearl Harbor. UGA might, might, be a decent team in a month or two — as of now, they are a team without an identity coached by Tom Crean. That’s not a good thing, especially the coached by Crean part.
Looking at the underlying numbers for the Georgia Bulldogs, they paint a similar story to the one for our Flyers. The Bulldogs score the ball effectively with a 53.9% effective field goal percentage, don’t turn over the ball seen with their 23rd ranked 14.9% turnover rate, and the crash the offensive boards well (*gulp*) rebounding the ball on 33.1% of offensive rebounding opportunities. Georgia is efficient at scoring at the basket, with a 57.9% field goal percentage on 2 pointers and 1.49 points per possession for shots at the rim, which pales in comparison to Dayton’s incredible 1.72 points per possession for shots at the rim but is still very good. The Bulldogs don’t particularly shoot the three well, with a 30.8% field goal percentage and averaging 0.92 points per possession on those shots. Getting to the basket well but not lighting the world on fire from the three point line, sound familiar?
The biggest difference between Dayton and Georgia is the pace in which both teams look to play. Georgia has about 74 possessions per game and averages 15 seconds per possession on offense, which are 36th and 31st among all D1 teams. Compare those numbers to Dayton’s pace numbers of 69 possession a game and 16.5 seconds per possession on offense, which are 221st and 124th in the country. Georgia has also been able to get to the free throw line well this season, with a free throw rate of 43.9% so far. This is much better than Dayton’s free throw rate of 29.2%. A-10 refs suck, am I right?! Georgia gets to the line a lot but they have struggled only shooting 66.1% from the line. Transition defense and packing the paint in the half-court without sending the Bulldogs to the line will be crucial for Dayton.
There aren’t going to be many Dayton games that features two projected NBA first round draft picks, but that’s what we have here with Obi Toppin and Georgia’s Anthony Edwards. The 6’5” guard is both a dangerous scorer and can set up his teammates well, averaging 19.3 points and 4 assists per game. He is the straw that stirs the Bulldog drink on offense, with an assist rate of 23.1% and shoots a decent clip from three at 36.8%. Edwards also has sticky fingers when defending, averaging 2.8 steals a game and 4.8% steal rate, which is 70th among all D1 players in the country. The only weak spot I can see in Edwards’ game is so far this season is his pattern of settling for mid-range jumpers. 36% of his field goal attempts have come from the mid-range and he has only made 18% of these shots, which is equivalent to an eye-gauging 0.36 points per possession. Dayton will have their hands full trying to stop Edwards getting to the basket or taking three’s, but if they can frustrate him then it seems Edwards will force inefficient shots.
The headlines will surely be comparing Obi Toppin to Edwards in this game, but Obi will likely be matched up mostly against Georgia’s next best contributor in Rayshaun Hammonds. The 6’9” junior butters his bread around the basket by scoring 78.9% of shots he has taken at the rim, rebounding 10.7% of offensive rebounding opportunities, and 29.1% of defensive rebounding opportunities which is 37th in the country so far. Obi, Trey Landers, and company will need to keep Hammonds out of the paint and keep him in their sights when rebounding or there could be a mountain of angry tweets from Flyer fans about rebounding.
While the offensive rebounding numbers for UGA should be concerning to those who have watched Dayton this year (and last), the BBR staff remains steadfast in our belief of a Flyers win today. As we mentioned, UGA is very young, and still is playing without an identity. Given that this game simply means more to UD, I’m betting our boys don’t let an opportunity slip away.
Dayton wins a close one, 84-80 and we spend the night thinking about what beating Michigan State could feel like.
Wear red, be #LOWD
Tom Blackburn is a proud U. o' D. alum. He loses faith in humanity one day at a time, but not in you, you seem like you are all kinds of alright. Charter member of the T-Man fanclub.