ReconU. Dayton BasketballRecon: Arch Baron Cup II

Saint Louis travels to the Gem City with revenge, blood thirsty revenge, on their minds

Jalen Crutcher’s last second three-pointer to beat Saint Louis will go down in the annals of Arch Baron Cup history. Crutcher will never have to buy a drink again in the Gem City, and he best not be in Mound City after dark. The Cup creates heroes and villains with equal swiftness. The win over Saint Louis tested UD’s resolve and proved the Flyers can handle a physical and defensive-minded club. For Saint Louis, the soul-sucking loss to Dayton signaled what might have been the beginning of the end of their season.

To wit, a commenter on the Billikens.com message board believes, with all sincerity, that the Crutcher buzzer-beater was the killshot on Saint Louis’ season.

6 Seconds left in OT….6 seconds from the best win in the Ford era and finally breaking through. Then that damn shot goes down. Since then, 2 losses to decentish teams, and 3 wins over absolute dogs, 2 of them just barely. Imagine if that shot didn’t fall….mrjoelabs

Is Mr. Joelabs a paint huffer? Maybe, but his reasoning checks out. Since the heartbreaking loss to the Flyers, the Bills took a L at Davidson, beat Fordham, went to overtime with La Salle and just barely edged out St. Joseph’s. Wednesday night was the waving of the white flag, as the Billikens were completely outclassed by Duquesne. SLU was 3-2 in the league after the loss to Dayton with five winnable games before the next Cup, they now stand at 6-4 with their dreams likely dashed. Even if the Billikens somehow win the battle with the Flyers tomorrow afternoon, it would appear UD has already won the war.

In the first ABC the Billikens absolutely dominated the Flyers on the boards, out rebounding UD by 12 — SLU grabbed an astounding 16 offensive rebounds. Saint Louis’ efforts on the glass kept the Bills in the game, sixteen extra bites at the apple has a tendency to keep teams hanging around (you could make the argument that SLU’s atrocious foul-shooting cancelled out their rebounding advantage, and you’d be right). This, I’m assured, will be a major focus tomorrow afternoon.

Saint Louis’ aggressiveness played out on the offensive end as well, the Bills scored 42 points in the paint against UD. As we have discussed previously on this here website, Dayton’s Achilles heel will continue to be physical teams that rebound and commit defensively. Colorado, Kansas, Saint Louis and even Duquesne are evidence of that (I don’t give much credence to the Flyers’ performance in the Indiana State game, it was clearly an outlier).

You already know the main players: Hasahn French is a big banger, a tenacious rebounder who shoots free-throws like a one-legged blind man. Jordan Goodwin, more of a scorer than a shooter, is one of the best rebounding guards in the nation and a solid defender. Javonte Perkins had a superb game in the first ABC, scoring a game-high 25 points. Jimmy Bell? He’s big. The bottom line is we know what to expect from Saint Louis. The Bills are going to play “man ball,” simple as that. Dayton simply needs to match their physicality as best as they can. Not shooting 1-for-10 from three in the first half will be a big help too.

The second game of the Arch Baron Cup has arrived. The grudge match of this historic series tends to get chippy and with Dayton removing the cup forcibly from those grubby Billiken hands in the first game, tensions could be high. Both teams know each other and what to expect from the other. Saint Louis will try to make the game ugly against Dayton. They will play tough defense, rebound on both ends of the ball, and try to make Dayton uncomfortable. You know this, I know this, the American people know it.

Since letting Arch Baron Cup glory slip from their grasp in such dramatic fashion, they’ve lost two games against Davidson and Duquesne and won 3, though one game was a win against Fordham where they only scored 55 so that’s almost only half a win. In those two losses and half a win against Fordham, the Billikens seemed intent on forcing jump shots despite not being a great jump shooting team. In those games, three point attempts accounted for 42.6% of field goal attempts against Davidson, 39.1% against Fordham, and 30.5% against Duquesne. All of those percentages are higher than the 28.7% of field goal attempts from the perimeter SLU has averaged this season.

Scoring 55 points against Fordham is bad enough, but watching the Billikens take 34.8% of their field goal attempts against the Rams from the mid-range must have been tough watching for the SLUnatics. They also took 32.2% of attempts from the mid-range against Duquesne and only scored 63 points, surely not a coincidence. With Jordan Goodwin and Hasahn French being physical players in the paint, averaging 1.22 and 1.19 points per shot at the rim each, forcing SLU into jump shots can help limit their offensive output.

In addition to Goodwin and French, Javonte Perkins has established himself as a vital piece to Travis Ford’s puzzle. After scoring 25 in a losing effort against UD, he scored another 25 in a loss to Davidson and 33 in a win over Saint Joe’s. The junior forward isn’t necessarily an efficient scorer, only scoring 1.06 points per possession this season. However, Perkins does get to the line at a proficient pace, with a free throw rate of 45.1%. Unlike some of his Billiken teammates, Perkins does hit his free throws, converting 77.1% of his trips to the line. Avoiding fouling Perkins and letting him score at the line will be key for Dayton Saturday.

Most of my timeline on Twitter were fine with fouling and putting the historically bad free throw shooter French at the line in the last cup matchup. It did not seem like Coach Anthony Grant was having Dayton foul French “on purpose”, but French did get 10 free throws and only hit 4 of them. He had no “And-1” opportunities, so you don’t need me to do the math to figure out that’s 0.4 points per shot. And that was a GOOD night of free throw shooting for French, where he averages shooting 35% from the line. Even if Dayton doesn’t employ a full-on “hack-a-Hasahn”, tactically fouling French at the end of the half or game to earn a two for one, where Dayton can steal a possession, is something the Flyers seriously need to consider.

On paper, Dayton shouldn’t have any issues keeping the Cup in the Gem City, its rightful home. The Flyers got out to a viciously cold start last time out in St. Louis and odds are history won’t be repeating itself. While Saint Louis does pose issues for UD, we’ve harped on them repeatedly, there’s no way the Flyers come out as cold as they did in the first ABC. While SLU has the ability to keep it close, they seem to be reeling and ripe for the picking. UD wins, 75-64. Our cup runneth over.

Tom Blackburn

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.

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