If I had to guess, you’re probably reading this article during the Thanksgiving weekend while your racist uncle fills your ear with politics over a Busch Light. All Thanksgiving celebrations are different, but somehow all the same. If you’re surrounded by people with your head buried in your phone over the holiday and just wanted to read about some Dayton hoops, you came to the right place. (all the pics you see were from Jablo, Drew was only good for so much on press row)
Right off the top, the three days in Maui were an overwhelming success for the Dayton Flyers and a sign of things to come for the newest version of our basketball team. No, they didn’t secure their first top 5 victory since “The Shot” in 1984, nor did they win a title in Maui, but the Flyers turned some heads nationally and followed two impressive wins by going toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the country for 45 minutes. UD didn’t play a perfect game and quite frankly got beat because of three NBA-caliber basketball players, but reasons for optimism are everywhere and every fan of this program will enter the month of December with the collective belief that there’s a damn good basketball team in Dayton, OH. That’s good enough for me…for now.
A lot of UD students seem to be tuned in for this afternoon’s game. I haven’t seen this level of energy from the student body surrounding the basketball team in my time on campus.
It’s still November.
— Griffin Quinn (@griffinpquinn) November 27, 2019
(If you missed the article in The Athletic about this team playing for the City of Dayton, you can find it here)
The Flyers came out on fire from long distance, converting on their first four shots, and the track meet was on. I don’t have to spend too much time breaking down how Kansas chose to attack UD, it was abundantly clear from the outset: get the ball into the paint for Udoka Azubuike, and when the ball is denied, bring him up for a high-ball screen so Devon Dotson or Marcus Garrett can sneak around his big ass to the hoop. Dotson in particular was absolutely incredible, one of the best drivers to the hoop I’ve seen play the college game. He finished with a career high 31 points on 11-for-16 shooting, 8-for-10 from the line, and only took two shots from deep, where he converted one. He was downright unstoppable going to the bucket, and I am thankful on this Thanksgiving Day that UD will not face a player of his (or Azubuike’s) caliber the rest of the season. Don’t cheapen their effort, they’re the real deal.
Besides the constant feeding of Azubuike and the barrage of lay-ins by Dotson, the theme of the first half was a game that was officiated entirely too tight. For a match-up on national television that featured a 7’0, 270lb center and Obi Toppin down low, to call all this ticky tack bullshit on both sides was unnecessary. This was a classic game that inherently was going to be physical, and instead I need to waste a few lines talking about how it was officiated like a middle school matinee. In the first 11 minutes, 15 total foul were called, including 10 on the Flyers. Get the fuck outta here with that. Give Dotson additional credit, he’s a professional at the “head flailing backwards when no actual contact is made to draw a foul” move. Crafty on his part. The officiating I speak of led to Rodney Chatman being an absolute ghost and spending most of the night on the pine. It happens. Jordy would come into the game to try his hand at defending Azubuike mid-first half, and proceeded to pick up 3 fouls in 90 seconds. That was the last we would see of him Wednesday…that doesn’t happen so much. He wasn’t quite ready for that smoke, we don’t blame ya Jordy, I couldn’t defend Azubuike either.
It’s worth repeating that the first half was an absolute track meet. Kansas gave UD everything they had in the first 20, and the Flyers had an answer each and every time on the heels of another night of fantastic shooting. UD remains #1 in the country in effective FG % and 2pt %, as well as 36th in 3pt % after shooting 16-33 from deep. The fact that UD remains on top of the country after going 11-for-29 from 2pt is nothing short of incredible, for my money thats one of the main reasons they didn’t get it done on Wednesday. When you manufacture easy buckets, the game gets easier, unfortunately Kansas is pretty damn good at taking those away, given the big guy in the middle and all. Never underestimate the trickle down effects of a great shot blocker. In any case, it was hard to feel anything but warm inside at the half when the good guys took a 1 point lead into the locker room despite getting the kitchen sink from KU.
To start the second, AG decided he was going to park Obi in front of the rim after a half when he was contained for 7 points on 3-for-6 shooting. Needless to say it didnt work all that well, as Obi was routinely double, and triple, teamed and would go 3-for-5 in the second frame. You have to give Obi credit for playing smart basketball as the focal point of the offense. Too often you see star players try and do everything to break out of a slump, and Obi did just the opposite. He was proficient in finding the open man, and immediately getting the ball out when he felt pressure. Throughout the course of the season you will see the floor open up on the perimeter due to the attention given to Obadiah underneath, and this night was no different. These are the secondary effects of having an NBA caliber athlete under the hoop every night who can go for 30 if left unattended.
There were many highlights on the night, but goddamn, this one really stands out:
OBI TOPPIN HAD HIS BACK TO THE RIM AND STARED DOWN KU’S BENCH BEFORE THE BALL WENT IN. pic.twitter.com/DJ4yLu8PDb
— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) November 27, 2019
The 10-minute mark of the second frame was where the shit really started to hit the fan. Chatman would pick up two quick fouls and Grant brought in the lineup of Landers-Ibi-Crutch to make up the backcourt. The result was a 12-2 Flyers run that had UD comfortably ahead by 8 with seven minutes to go. Then things started to unravel. Dotson, Garrett and Azubuike answered by manufacturing an 11-0 run where they held UD scoreless for seven minutes in the most crucial stretch of the game. At this point of the recap I realized I couldn’t even tell you another name on the KU roster, they were effectively useless, accounting for 10 total points between six guys.
I would be remiss if I did not address the out of bounds call that the officials got 100% wrong during the most important time of the game. It absolutely unacceptable that these plays cannot be easily reviewed in this year of our Lord, 2019. If you have another opinion there’s no possible way I could care less. Obvious calls shouldn’t be blown and then not corrected. Period.
Fifteen seconds to go, game on the line, AG frankly drew up a play that was worthless. NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster echoed the sentiment, but the balls of Jalen Crutcher to fire this shot up needs no introduction:
The play was worthless, but Jalen Crutcher forced overtime anyway!!! pic.twitter.com/Ni2wC7Qn2O
— Rob Dauster (@RobDauster) November 28, 2019
An incredible shot with the game on the line. Hard not to love this dude, this undisputed leader of the Flyers when the boys need a bucket.
Unfortunately, the OT would not be the greatest Dayton basketball I could’ve watched. There’s plenty of things to nitpick, but for my money, Grant has to do better than zero shots for Obi in the OT and allowing Azubuike to dominate the period with 9 easy points while carrying four fouls. He would not foul out until the game was well in hand and the damage was done. As they say, the other team is trying to win too, but you expect the gameplan to be better. UD just didn’t throw enough at the big man to challenge him in the OT, made more inexplicable by his contributions in regulation. Luckily Ryan Mikesell was up to the task, again, and scored the first nine points to keep the Flyers within striking distance. In fairness, Dayton drew up the perfect defensive scheme, down 4 with 27 seconds left, but Crutcher missed a bunny lay-up after KU threw the ball directly to him, and that was all she wrote. Considering UD wouldn’t have even been in OT with the heroics of Crutcher, it was impossible to put anything on him. Thems the breaks my man.
Our BBR correspondent, Drewby, shared his thoughts from the Hawaiian Islands:
The 3 days on the island were a heckuva time. I had the most fun of anyone in Maui and it was an experience that I will cherish forever. The gym at Lahaina Civic Center was electric, while still being incredibly tiny. There wasn’t an empty spot in the gym for the final against Kansas and buddy,, it was LOWD. The Flyers came up short against one of the best teams in the country. The 8 point lead with the ball had me feeling confident but a careless turnover from Ibi Watson (who had his best game in a Flyer uniform) and a blown call on an out of bounds which directly led to a Kansas 10-0 run was the ultimate undoing of the Cagers from Dayton, OH. This team proved however that they are legit and they are a problem. Obi had far from his best performance today and the Flyers were still with the Jayhawks every step of the way at the end. Jalen still has nuts the size of Texas and the fellas fought all the way to the bitter end. Enjoy this team Flyer fans, they don’t come around every year. I know the last two season have been filled with growing pains and tough moments but you get through those moments so you can get to games like these against programs like Kansas. Dayton blew the breaks off of two power five teams to get to this match-up and it gives you a reason to be excited. Thanks for following along on the blog, and my tweets from this week. I’ll leave you with this, when the games continue on the mainland the rest of the year, I need all of those in attendance to bring the #LOWD just like we did on the Island. Cheers, Drewby.
No hot takes today because there’s no need for them. UD had a fantastic three days on the Hawaiian Islands where they showed their worth and put the national media on watch that they’re going to be a ranked team to be reckoned with all season. Alternatively, this also means Dayton isn’t going to be sneaking up on anyone, anywhere and will get every team’s best shot in the A10 conference. There’s a lot of season to go but there’s plenty of evidence to support the fact that Dayton, OH has a damn good basketball team heading into 2020.
The Flyers will get five (much needed) days off before welcoming Houston Scrub City Baptist on Tuesday night in The Arena for a proper dumptrucking.
Wear Red, Stay LOWD, see you there.