Your Dayton Flyers have landed in the Gem City, relieved and elevated after acquiring themselves nicely in Maui. UD put away Georgia and Virginia Tech early, like a good team ought to, and played Kansas even for 44+ minutes. Outside of a win against the Jayhawks, the trip couldn’t have gone better. Coach Grant’s team soaked up all the adulation and earned/unearned hype that a stellar in the Maui Invitational brings. Accordingly, UD is ranked #19 in the just released AP poll, and #17 in the coaches poll.
But now that’s over. It’s time to get back to work and continue the mission. The Flyers still have two proving grounds ahead of them, in Phoenix against Saint Mary’s this Sunday and in Chicago against Colorado in three weeks. Newton’s First Law states: Objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Grant and Co. need to stay in motion. Dayton has an opportunity to hang around and disrupt the powers that be this season, that only happens with continued success. Before Sunday’s test, the Flyers take on Houston Baptist. A slaying of biblical proportions is inevitable.
I never knew most organized religions view Catholicism as a weird cult until I was inundated with Baptist influences. When you inform a Baptist that you are Catholic there is a moment of trepidation, a moment where they think you might kidnap them and inexplicably dump them in a large vat of water. I have tried to explain to our Baptist brethren that most Catholics are “Easter-Christmas” folks, showing up for Mass only when Grandma is in town.
There are a myriad of reasons most Christians outside the Catholic sect think we are fucking weirdos, but these seem to be the most glaring:
- First and foremost on the list is the Catholic obsession with Mary. Catholics treat Mary like a divine deity when in actuality she just allegedly pushed Jesus out of her lady hole. The Catholic worship of Mary, as it has been explained to me, would be on par with being preoccupied with the mothers of John, Paul, Ringo and George during Beatlemania. I get it, it is kinda creepy.
- Baptism — this is another sticking point. Baptists, and most “other” Christians, do not understand the act of forcibly inducting an infant into a religious schism before they can form a cogent thought or walk around without a load in their pants. I explain that Catholicism is like a military draft, membership is forced upon you.
- Purgatory. This, truthfully, is one I had issues with as a wee child, it never made any goddamn sense to me. The idea that there is a waiting room between Heaven and Hell is something Baptists and other Christians simply can’t wrap their head around. It’s nonsensical, it would be the most stressful exit interview of all time.
- Fish on Friday, Ash on Wednesday. I’m fine with the eating fish on Friday thing, I don’t subscribe to it but if you think God cares about your dietary intake on four very specific Friday’s of the year, that’s a you problem. The rubbing of ashes on the forehead is understandably mystifying as well. One, you are appropriating chimney-sweep culture, which is troublesome on its face. Two, you are walking around with dirt on your face all day like a fucking idiot. While I understand that most, perhaps all, of Catholic dogma revolves around shame and repentance, the placing of ashes just seems a step too far. Have some pride and self-respect, the offering plate is punishment enough.
- Catholic Priests vs. Baptist Ministers. This one seems rather obvious. No need to delve too deep here.
Again, these are just the broad strokes. There are numerous, reasonable, reasons why other Christians think Catholicism is a freaky and spooky cult. I get it, you get it. See you at Christmas Mass.
This is going to be a really quick recon, as Houston Baptist is winless and helpless. We do have to give the Huskies credit for their out-of-conference scheduling. HBU has already taken on Tulsa, Texas Tech, Michigan and Houston and it’s only December 2nd. After they get their whoopin’ tonight, Baptist will take on the world-beating Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (in NACOGDOCHES!) and travel to The Pit in New Mexico. Houston Baptist will travel far and wide to take an ass-beating, duly noted.
Houston Baptist is essentially an army of two — senior guard Jalon Gates and junior wing Ian DuBose. The pair account for around 60% of the Huskies’ shots and around 50% of their scoring (which makes sense when you think about it). Gates has an itchy trigger finger, liable to pull up from anywhere on the court to release a shot. He has been described as a “tenacious defender.” We will see just how tenacious after HBU is down twenty and Obi just threw down his seventh dunk of the night. DuBose is relied upon to do damn near everything for the Huskies. Score, defend, rebound, drive the bus, etc. No man should have all that responsibility. If you read up to this point, walk away from your computer and go stare out the window. That’s better, isn’t it?
On the back of continued efficient scoring at the hoop, and a new-found proficiency from the three-point line, Dayton finished 2-1 in the Maui Invitational. After absolutely walloping Georgia and Virginia Tech, and nearly beating an honest to god blue blood in Kansas, your Dayton Flyers are squarely in the top 25 in both polls this week. Some brave writers even have Dayton among the top ten in the country. While this was written before the poll came out, it gives you the warm and fuzzies to see Dayton top 10…anywhere.
In recent history it seems that every time our Flyers have reached the heights of the Top 25, they would trip over their own feet and lose to a lesser team. Will that happen against Houston Baptist?
No, it won’t. Everyone in attendance Tuesday night will have ample opportunity to browse the “Second Place Maui Invitational” apparel available for sale at the Arena and will not miss much of the action on the court. I mentioned that a key component to Dayton’s great play in Hawaii was their efficient scoring. In fact, as of Sunday night, the Flyers had the highest effective field goal percentage of any Division 1 team in the country at 62.6%. Their opponents on Tuesday, the Houston Baptist Huskies, conversely are 308th in the country at 43.8%. Friends, there are only 353 Division 1 teams and that means that Houston Baptist are among the bottom 15% of those teams in scoring the ball. Let the bloodletting commence.
The Huskies are 0-5 and frankly do not seem to do anything well. They are 217th in KenPom’s offensive efficiency metric and 337th in KenPom defensive efficiency. There are a lot of ugly numbers associated with the Houston Baptist basketball team, but perhaps the one that illustrates the gap in talent between HBU and our Flyers is that the Huskies have scored on only 39% of their two-point field goal attempts (ghastly!) while the Gem City Cagers have only scored 0.1% less on their three-point attempts, currently shooting 38.9%.
My favorite thing to examine when looking at the statistical profile of a team like Houston Baptist is identifying a player who has decent-to-above average metrics that indicates a hint of a basketballin’ competence to be handcuffed by a teammate who is not only subpar offensively, but seems to enjoy exclusively calling their own number. For the Huskies, Jalon Gates and Ian DuBose fill those roles respectively.
Gates is a senior guard who has an impressive 126.4 offensive rating (which measures how many points they score per 100 possessions) off of an impressive effective field goal rate of 57.6%, while shooting an above average 38.3% from the three-point line. Yet,peculiarly, Gates only has a usage rate of 20% on the season so far. Compare these numbers to DuBose, who has the highest usage rate for the Huskies at 28.8% and couples that with an offensive rating of 89, an effective field goal percentage of 36.8%, and shoots a mere 29.6% from the 3-point line. If DuBose doesn’t yell “make it rain!” after every shot he takes, I’ll be disappointed.
Flyers win this one easy, it’s going to be disgusting. If there is one game to bring your girlfriend/wife/goomah to, this is it. Arrive late and leave early, no one will judge you. Just make sure you go to confession, as telling a random stranger who has sworn off the company of women your darkest and deepest misdeeds is the only way to cleanse yourself (I practice self-flagellation, try it!).
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.