The excitement is back in the Gem City! The Flyers are 5-0, in the final of the Maui Invitational and about to take on #4 Kansas. The hyperbole is overflowing and the world feels like an open bar right now. Whatever you make of Dayton’s first two wins in Maui, blowout wins over Georgia and Virginia Tech, you have to impressed by Dayton’s defensive effort. Now, I know what you are saying — but Blackie, neither Georgia or Virginia Tech will be NCAA Tournament teams! The Bulldogs were picked to finish ninth in the SEC and the Hokies are expected to finish second to last in the ACC this season! This wins won’t mean much come March!
Congrats to the @DaytonMBB and good luck tomorrow! G🏀 Flyers!
— Morgan Miller (@BballWife4Life) November 27, 2019
First off, stop shouting. You get more bees with honey than vinegar. I hear you, I do, and it’s a valid point. However, the Flyers were dominant on both sides of the ball in those pair of games. UD won by an average of 23 points, holding their opponents to a mere 61 points per contest. While the competition may not have been elite, the performances were. That’s exactly what you are supposed to do to teams with lesser talent, especially when you have a weapon like Obi Toppin. As wise men say, you can only beat who you play. You never apologize for beating the brakes off of your opponent.
While wins over UGA and Virginia Tech won’t put hair on your chest, a win over the Kansas Jayhawks will have your upper-torso looking furrier than a Turkish jewelry dealer. While the first two games of the Maui Invitational can be viewed as appetizers, Kansas is a four-course meal. The Jayhawks are a different animal, a shot at one of college basketball’s true blue bloods. The best part? There is absolutely no pressure on the Flyers. Anthony Grant’s team is playing with house money and the dealer is showing her hole card. We all remember, or tried to forget the last time UD took on Kansas. I think Cole Aldrich is still swatting the ball into Chris Wright’s forehead as we speak.
Kansas’ size is the first thing to jump out at you. Udoka Azubuike is a legit seven-footer, an elite rim-protector with a solid offensive game around the basket. Azubuike (12.8 ppg/8.3 rpg) led the nation in field-goal percentage as a sophomore and is on track to do it again this year, currently converting 79.5% of his field-goal attempts. If Azubuike gets the ball down low he’s probably scoring. Azubuike’s travails at the foul-line have been documented and he’s up to his old bullshit again, shooting 32% from the stripe this season. David McCormick lines up next to Azubuike, and at 6’10” he adds even more size to the Jayhawk frontcourt. McCormick’s role offensively is to clean up on the boards and stay out of Azubuike’s way.
While Kansas’ size up front draws a lot of eyeballs, it’s the Jayhawk backcourt that makes the offense go. Devon Dotson (17.8 ppg) decided to come back for his sophomore year, so did I, and is probably the fastest played in the NCAA with the ball in his hands. While he is a prototypical shoot-first point-guard, Dotson is a solid drive-and-dish player. Locking down Dotson will obviously be key to a Flyer victory today. Ochai Agbaji and Marcus Garrett round out the Kansas starting lineup. Garrett (8.7 ppg/4.8 rpg) is by far the best defender on Bill Self’s roster. His sole goal is to ruin your afternoon. Agbaji (10.2 ppg/3.5 rpg) is the Jayhawks’ Mr. Intangibles. He can do a little bit of everything, picking his spots on offense.
I don’t have to tell you that Obi Toppin is going to be vital against Kansas, but I will anyway. Obi’s ability to step out and hit shots will be instrumental in opening the floor for the rest of the Flyers. Kansas is light years ahead of Georgia and Virginia Tech defensively, UD will have to earn everything they get offensively. If the Flyers can stay hot from downtown and keep the Jayhawks at bay as far as rebound are concerned, there’s no reason UD won’t win this game. That being said, you’d have to give the slight edge to Kansas here. While Dayton has looked good in Maui, the competition hasn’t been near Kansas’ level. The Jayhawks edge out the Flyers, 76-72.
Last thing, Breaking T has created an exclusive tshirt/hoodie for Dayton fans. The world has gone fucking Obi crazy and there is nothing we can do but watch it spread like a virus.
The owner of Breaking T is a Dayton grad, so your support will be going to a LOWD home.
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.