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:
Something drastic needs to change for UD to win this game. Rebounding atrocious, not getting to the line, turning the ball over, not getting #1 involved enough. Colorado dictating just about everything. Surprising to say the least
— Sully (@sullymygoodname) December 22, 2019
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…
Obi Toppin with a HUGE three for Dayton to send the game to OT.
Keeping the over 139 and Dayton -5.5 alive.
— Bet The Hoops (@betthehoops) December 22, 2019
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…
IT’S ONLY DECEMBER 🤯
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) December 22, 2019
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:
— Colorado Men’s Basketball (@CUBuffsMBB) December 22, 2019
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.