Tonight I don’t feel the need to give you some snarky introduction. I don’t need to make jokes about the A10 season, the opponents who lie ahead, or how Obi will dunk on all of their heads by season’s end. Neigh. We have talked for three weeks now about how this Dayton team was capable of steamrolling the competition in the Atlantic 10, and on Wednesday night, that’s precisely what the Dayton Flyers did. They made a conference win look utterly pedestrian.
One example. Here’s how great this season has been thus far:
They’ve turned THIS guy….
Into this guy…
Only the magic of Flyers basketball could accomplish such an unthinkable transformation.
In the name of keeping it real with you fine people, Wednesday’s triumph over the Bonnies from Olean was one of the most uneventful contests of the season. The Bonnies came out ice cold, missing a plethora of shots that weren’t particularly close, and UD jumped out to an early advantage. Credit where it’s due, Bona punched back, getting as close as 25-24 with around seven minutes remaining in the first frame, but were never able to take the lead on this night. From there, it was an absolute clinic. Gem City would outscore Bona 22-5 in the remainder of the first, and went to the break with the most effortless 18-point deficit I have ever seen, like the script had been pre-determined. The run was highlighted by this alley-oop to Ob….wait, no, CHIP MIKESELL?!?
Crutcher to Toppin … I mean Mikesell. Dayton leads 35-26 at 339. pic.twitter.com/lHNRFY9gX4
— David Jablonski (@DavidPJablonski) January 23, 2020
From there, as they say, the route was fully on. Bona never got any closer than 17 in the second half, and UD was able to stretch their lead to as much as 27 at one point. Typically at Glascotts I stay locked into the game until the bitter end, but not last night, no sir. Throughout the course of the second half I received a few texts from Bonaventure fans along the lines of: “I hadn’t watched much of this Dayton team this season, but holy hell are you guys solid.” Frankly, truer words have never been spoken. Not only did UD jump on an inferior opponent on the home floor, they broke their spirit in the second half and never let them have even a fighter’s chance of getting back in the game. This is precisely what great teams do. There are MANY games ahead of us, so it is certainly imperative to ensure nothing goes awry in games like this where the result should never be in question, and it wasn’t.
Obi and Jalen hit the bench with six minutes remaining, finishing with 18 and 23, respectively, and the entire starting lineup finished with a +/- over 18. Ibi finished with 12 on 5-for-8 shooting from the floor, and Trey/Mikesell each finished with 10 points and 5 boards a piece, a true example of their contributions to ensuring this lineup stays well rounded. Jhery, Jordy and Dwayne were all able to log 10 minutes of solid burn, which is an underrated aspect of beating the brakes off a conference foe in late January. Make no mistake, these three dudes will be counted on for minutes at some point this season when the result is in question, so the more time they can spend on the floor in garbage time the better. It’s all about them reps!
The Flyers had five players score in double digits tonight. They shot 65% from the field and 40% from three.
Pretty fun to watch the most efficient offensive in the country on a nightly basis.
— Grant Kelly (@GrantKelly07) January 23, 2020
Most importantly, in previous years the Flyers have sweat out many games, just like this one. That is not the case this season. With 12 games remaining on the A10 schedule, Dayton has only been seriously challenged once in six tries now; on the road, in a very poor shooting performance against a pesky SLU team. The upcoming stretch features two road trips to Richmond and Duquesne, before coming home to lay waste to Fordham in what will undoubtedly be the most annoying game of the year. Why it even needs to be played is a conversation for the NCAA office. The sooner Fordham leaves the A10, the better off the league will be. Seriously. Point being, you are starting to see that Dayton is far and away the best team in the Atlantic 10 this year, everyone is playing for second place, and the Flyers are acting like it.
Last night will go down as one of the shortest games I can ever remember in UD Arena, with a 7:00 pm ET tip wrapping up around 8:45 pm. There was truly nothing you HAD to see in the second half, the game could be described as boring, and I think that’s pretty neat. So instead of going further into the nitty gritty of a truly forgettable shellacking I would rather take the rest of this article to help you understand that no one, literally no one, under the age of 60 has ever seen a Dayton Flyers team this good. Last night’s win propelled UD to the 4th spot in the KenPom rankings, sporting the #2 most efficient offense in the country behind Gonzaga, with the highest effective FG and 2 point % in all of the land. Only 14 teams in the country log more assists per made basket than UD, and only 29 teams shoot the long ball more effectively. We are 19 games into the season and Dayton has not been held under 70 points a single time. For once, everything we thought COULD come together as fans, actually has come to fruition.
So naturally it’s worth noting that no one on earth could’ve possibly predicted this meteoric rise for the basketball program in Dayton, OH. In 12 seasons as a head coach, Anthony Grant has never had an offense like this, he’s never had a collegiate player like Obi Toppin on his roster, he’s never had a team of shooters make buckets this efficiently, and no team he has coached has ever played a faster tempo. It simply goes against everything we have seen from the coaching career of Grant, and is a testament to AG building the system around the emergence of an NBA lottery pick more than molding his personnel into his own personal style of play.
With that said, I have mentioned to anyone who is willing to listen that I am most impressed with this team’s ability to get the business done that needs to be done. The locker room was well aware at 5pm on Wednesday night that they were miles better than Bonaventure, the same feeling they undoubtedly had before playing LaSalle, St, Joe’s, UMass, etc. The guys aren’t dumb. They know Fordham sucks, they know they’re miles ahead of the next team in their conference, but to date, it has not hindered their ability to avoid overlooking who takes the floor, and only eat the meal presented in front of them. The “1-0” mentality is a little too played out for my liking, but its precisely how this season must be handled until the games that truly matter in March.
Before I let you go, check out the LOWDest basement in existence…
— Matthew Reitenbach (@reitenbach) January 23, 2020
For now, enjoy that there will be more nights like this one that you just didn’t have to worry about, I know I did.
Wear red, stay LOWD, there’s a big one looming on Saturday in Richmond.