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A Humbling in Chicago

The Flyers come up short in another OT loss away from home

Let me start this recap with an earnest question for you: did you believe the Dayton Flyers were the 13th best team in the entire country? Really think about your answer. Do you believe there are only 12 teams in the country who are better than Dayton?

Some will wholeheartedly say yes, others will say no, that’s between you and your god. The reality after a loss like the one the Dayton Flyers took against Colorado on Saturday night in Chicago is that the dream of a regular season with a top 5 ranking is all but over. It has been said on this website many times, but the current predicament for the Dayton Flyers is that opportunities for these types of wins come around sparingly and only small, incremental improvement can now be made to UD’s resume between Christmas and the beginning of March. The Flyers will likely walk out of the non-conference with an 11-2 record with both losses coming to tournament teams in OT on neutral courts, but that doesn’t feel like enough aloe for a sore ass right now, does it?


Luckily I feel confident in saying this will not be the defining moment of the season, and it will serve as a necessary humbling for a team that has been getting nothing but praise (deserved or not) since they returned from Maui. Dayton has done just enough to impress people, without doing anything truly impressive. They will go into A10 play without a ranked win, with a resume built more on impressive statistics than impressive wins. Since they will be receiving every team’s best shot in the A10 on a nightly basis due to the perceived target on their backs, it is my personal opinion this loss came at a great time to teach this squad that SportsCenter highlights don’t translate to wins, and UD isn’t sneaking up on anyone this season. There’s a very, very long way to go this season, and it’s OK to feel like this was one of the more crushing Dayton losses in recent memory, because it was.

Roosevelt Chapman told me his message to the team in the locker room on Saturday afternoon was this:

“You guys have a lot of great stats, numbers that make you look good on paper. But what are you gonna do with them? None of these stats mean anything without winning a championship”

When the King of UD Basketball speaks, we must listen.

The Flyers came out of the gate on fire, which has been a theme of the season thus far. Unfortunately that success would be short lived. When we entered the first media timeout, UD had scored on every possession without missing a shot from the field. Hand to God, I can’t ever remember that happening to our Flyers before, and the lead was 19-5 early. Shades of the Saint Mary’s game started to enter the minds of the thousands of Flyers who made the trip to Chicago, but the Buffs would be unwilling to roll over and die like the others.

The offense for Colorado was all about McKinley Wright. We said before the game that the Buffs best chance to beat UD was to go entirely through the ex-Dayton commit, and that’s exactly what happened. Kin (that’s what the kids call him) was responsible for 32% of CU’s shots and 37% of their scoring. Rodney and Dwayne took turns guarding Wright, but it seemed like every time Wright wanted to get a bucket, he did so. What’s most impressive to me is Wright’s ability to create shots off the dribble, mostly because he’s a mediocre-to-bad three-point shooter. He’s an expert at getting to the rack with speed and creating contact, evident by his ten shots at the line. Tip of the cap to the, kid. There’s a reason we all wanted him to be wearing a Dayton uniform, after all. After the boos rained down in the first half every time he touched the ball, he took the time after the win to kiss his arms and embrace the role of triumphant villain, I’ll always respect that. These petty bullshit things make sports more fun.

After the 19-5 start to the half, UD would score only two points over the next seven minutes, allowing the Buffaloes to bring the score to 21-20, and the track meet was on. The two squads would trade buckets over the final five minutes of the first frame, and supporters of the Gem City had to feel good about a four-point cushion going into the half, made possible by a tear drop from Rodney near the buzzer.

The second half was dictated by Colorado. After a Trey Landers bucket to open up the second half offense, UD would be outscored 21-8 over the next eight minutes of game play. The Buffaloes were dominant on the offensive glass all night, turning in an absolutely ridiculous 17 offensive rebounds, including eight from the big man, Evan Battey. Strangely, Battey wasn’t called for a single foul all night – I am still trying to figure out how that’s possible. I rarely leave a game with a talking point on the officiating, but the referees unfortunately had a tangible impact on the outcome of the game, and no one in our shitty comments section will ever be able to convince me otherwise. If Jalen Crutcher hadn’t been fouled on a three-pointer in the second half, the Flyers would’ve ended up with four total free throws, including zero in the first half. I’ve watched a lot of basketball in my life, and that just doesn’t add up.

Right around the time of the aforementioned Crutcher trip to the line, I had a pit growing in my stomach, because I felt like this:

And frankly, not a whole lot did change. Dayton found themselves trailing by eight with eight minutes to go, and would need to get bailed out by perimeter shooting. With 35 seconds left UD was down 2 with the ball, and the play drawn up was an extremely questionable long ball from Obi (who was cold from outside all night) that clanged off the rim into the hands of Colorado. Wright would take a stroll to the line to ice the game, and the following sequence would ensue…

A friend sitting a few rows down looked up at me for a reaction, and all I could do was shrug my shoulders. Watching Dayton basketball has taken years off my life. I looked down at my smart watch and it had determined that I was in the midst of a “dynamic workout” because my heart rate was so high. Maybe I need help, maybe you need help, maybe we all need help. We were headed to OT.

I could recap the OT, but who gives a shit? This is the only play that matters…

Langston Galloway in the A10 tournament, URI in back to back years in 2008-09, GW in UD Arena in 2005, David West from the top of the FT line: they all came to mind, this one hurt as much as any of them. Here’s the Buffaloes call from OT:

We could argue that McKinley Wright fouled Chatman good and hard, keeping him from challenging the outside shot, but that’s getting a bit too petty for my liking. These refs were outwardly terrible the entire night, so it never occurred to me for a single second that they would have the nuts to make a call like that in the closing seconds. It was a great pass from deep in the post and a clutch shot to win the game by Schwartz, who finished with 20 points on 5-for-7 from downtown. End scene.

Luckily for you, I, all of us, Dayton has the mother of all bounce back games on Monday evening in UD Arena against Grambling State to take their frustrations out on another kid brother opponent. This was a missed opportunity, one that will sting for quite some time and leave Dayton making up the ground lost here tonight for another month or so. When you look down the A10 conference at all the 150+ opponents, you begin to appreciate how important these games are come seeding in March. As it stands, UD still has a potent offense that just didn’t dictate the pace of play on Saturday night, and they paid for it. You have to credit the Buffaloes and Tad Boyle for coming up with a sound game plan to make UD uncomfortable, as it felt like every basket (in the second half especially) was fully earned. On the heels of his +41 performance against North Texas, Trey Landers turned in a -15, I’m not entirely sure what to do with this information.

Given that UD has a game on the night this article is being published, that’s all that really needs to be said about this one. It sucked, I left pissed, the officiating was atrocious, and UD got outplayed by a team they’re probably better than. Colorado will have a nice shiny win on their resume, and Dayton will have the entire Christmas week to think about it after disposing of Grambling back at the home barn. For better or worse, Dayton has been involved with (and lost) arguably the two most entertaining basketball games of the college season so far. I don’t take much solace in that right this second, but it’s something.

Lot of season left people, don’t I dare catch you not wearing red or not being LOWD.

 

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. David

    December 23, 2019 at 1:17 AM

    Good team. Missing something to be great. Plenty of time to find it.

    • Rich Anglin

      December 23, 2019 at 9:50 AM

      I think Mikesell and Landers give the team a lot, but feel we need a strong physical presence around the rim on defense. Maybe Jordy is that guy. As good as McKinley played, Battey was a beast and the difference in the game.

  2. Mark Smucker

    December 23, 2019 at 1:55 AM

    In answer to your questions—no and no. No, Dayton is not the 13th best team in the country, and no, there are not 12 teams better than UD (somewhat repetitive). UD is likely somewhere between 5-10. What’s your point?

    That was a hell of a game, McKinley Wright was a man possessed, and CU made a perfect pass and a perfect shot to win the game. What’s your point?

    UD will be a top 5 seed in the tournament—and has the capability to make the Final Four. That’s what matters. I am taking my family tonight to see the refurbished temple of college basketball. That’s what matters.

    Enjoy the journey.

    • Sully

      December 23, 2019 at 2:24 PM

      If you think UD is one of the best ten teams in the country there is absolutely nothing to point to that being true as far as factual backing. Dayton lost another game they should’ve won. There’s two points.

      • BigTim

        December 24, 2019 at 12:54 AM

        don’t think college basketball is that cut and dry. Rankings change so much for a reason.. I do think before the Rado game they were definitely playing like a top 10 team.

  3. Mark Smucker

    December 23, 2019 at 2:02 AM

    No and no. UD is likely between 5-10.

    That was a hell of a game and McKinley Wright was a man possessed.

    Dayton is positioned for a deep run in NCAA.

    Enjoy the ride.

  4. The Legend of Steve Maning

    December 23, 2019 at 6:40 AM

    When McKinley Wright first put on that oversized for his head RED hat with the Fancy new D logo at his HS press conference and announced he was going to….DAYTON UNIVERSITY…….knew right then never wanted to catch him at the UD Arena/Blackburn Court or Donoher Center…University of Colorado can have him. We’ll keep Jalen (not Rose) Clutcher

  5. jim mahony

    December 23, 2019 at 9:03 AM

    McKinley motivated by Dayton booing! Not typical of Flyer fans to boo opposition. He stuck that right in Dayton’s eye.

    • Rich Anglin

      December 23, 2019 at 9:43 AM

      Not typical of Flyer fans to boo opposition?! I recall the last visit of Xavier to UD Arena and the profanities that flew throughout the game at Chris Mack’s wife, Christie Hester Mack (UD alum and former UD women’s point guard).

      • jim mahony

        December 23, 2019 at 1:31 PM

        Definitely not cool

        • Sully

          December 23, 2019 at 2:30 PM

          Dayton fans have been booing opposing players since the beginning of time. Don’t come to this site being sanctimonious please.

  6. CMurder

    December 23, 2019 at 10:03 AM

    Good point about the necessity of a humbling. You know if they won Saturday night and then won the next two they would go into that A10 opener against Lasalle and lose. Also, regarding the next-to-last possession in regulation, was that Obi three really what was drawn up during the TO? Grant makes some baffling late-game coaching decisions. But, if you told me at the beginning of the season that right now we’d be sitting at 9-2 with the only two losses in OT to Kansas and Colorado, I’d haven been ecstatic. Tough to swallow a loss like that, but it’s hard for me to be too upset about where we are right now.

  7. BigTim

    December 24, 2019 at 12:48 AM

    Refs let the game be played veryyy physical. UD had 40+ in the paint and basically no fouls called in the paint.. that doesn’t happen. CU seemed to get ticky tack calls but I’m biased.. run the table in the shitty a10 plz.

  8. Kid Flyer

    December 24, 2019 at 1:16 AM

    Dirt Road would have been the difference in the CU game. We had no answer for Evan Battey. DRJ would have had a chance at neutralizing him if his head was in the game.

    Jordy put in a solid effort and his +/- suggests he made a positive impact on the game but they just do not seem to flow the same when he is on the floor. He has thus far proven to be a stumbling turnover machine. I am not confident he will be much of a consistent contributor other than providing fouls to give and (underline) some rim protection.

    I am concerned that DRJ really has a “deep (academic) bone bruise” and am bracing myself for an impending announcement that he is academically ineligible. I am praying this is not the case. I think he is a real X factor for this team and their ability to complete with Power Five inside strength.

    Does anyone know if he is really sick and what his condition is?

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