Due to prior staff commitments at the BBR (and a lengthy 4.5 hour drive back to Chicago on Sunday on top of recording a podcast episode) we returned our journalistic efforts to our 9-to-5 roots to give you the Arch Baron Cup recap on Monday from a fantastic weekend on the banks of the Great Miami River.
First things first, I think it’s relevant to level-set. As you know by now with the customary AP poll being released on Monday afternoon, the Dayton Flyers are still #6 in the country. The Dayton Flyers are still #6 in KenPom, they’re also #5 in the NET, and have the 10th strongest “strength of record” in the country. But you know all this, so why am I reiterating? To illustrate once more that how these games are won does. not. matter. It doesn’t matter even a little bit. Our Flyers have earned enough goodwill by this point in February that style points can be safely thrown out the window. You win, and you turn the page. That simple.
With that said, by the time of this writing, the team has forgotten about this game and left it in the past for the simple reason that URI has already landed in the Gem City by the time I hit publish. However, you came here to read a little ditty about the Arch Baron Cup staying at home in its rightful place, so 1000 words will indeed be published on that topic.
At the end of the first half, I have to be honest, I found myself a little perplexed. UD only committed five turnovers, they went 3-for-8 from downtown and 10-for-17 from 2pt while getting to the line for 12 shots and converting 10. Even more impressive? UD out-rebounded SLU to the tune of 16-13, which, as we all know, has been their Achilles heel all season. So had I told you all those things were going to happen before the game started, it stands to reason you would believe Dayton would be comfortably ahead…and that was not the case. As I was sucking down a cold halftime brew in the concourse, Drewby astutely pointed out that while Dayton was up 8 points, that lead really should have been about 15+. It felt like UD was in the driver’s seat without actually taking control, and more often than not, that will come back to bite you. Thankfully on this night, Dayton is simply a more talented team than SLU and that talent gap showed up when it really mattered in the second.
But, staying true to the sentiment, the second half was close because UD failed to open up the margin in the first. Dayton was out-rebounded by a ludicrous margin in the second half to the tune of 20-9, got outworked, out-hustled and out-scored, but still found a way to win. Like I said when we started this article, that’s enough for the 6th best team in the country, but at this point, you have to be slightly concerned of what could transpire when they play a better team, or say, a team that is good enough to make the NCAA tournament.
We’ve said this year that Dayton has three true flaws that will likely be exposed when they meet their inevitable demise: defending good guard play, rebounding, and getting to the free throw line. On Saturday afternoon, only the first two aspects reared their ugly head, and thankfully, the rebounding issue was only a problem in the second frame. As Blackburn mentioned on the podcast, the second half felt like shades of the Brian Gregory era: uninspired play, letting your opponent dictate their style of play, and going through the motions. Even the extra exuberance by the red sweaters in the lower bowl wasn’t enough, and every time it felt like UD was going to cash in a three-ball to extend the lead and bring the building to their feet, it would clang out and I would sit my ass right back down again.
In any case, and staying with the theme of this article, Dayton was able to do just enough down the stretch to secure the win when SLU was truly knocking on the door, and that’s A-OK for a game that featured a 48-hour turnaround to the biggest conference game of the season to date against URI. Obi chipped in a yeoman’s 17, Crutch did the same, and Ryan Mikesell seemingly popped up out of his funk to score 11 with 8 boards (six of which came in the first five minutes). On a night when it felt like no one could find their stroke from three, I found myself encouraged that UD found a way to win ugly, with no huge offensive run to speak of, and no real highlight play after the Obi fast-break dunk in the first. That’ll do pig! That’ll do!
I have a few takes before we turn the page on the second installment of the Arch Baron Cup:
Chimichanga had his best game of the season
The big fella logged 10 extremely effective minutes on Saturday, before receiving two atrocious foul calls to push him out of the game early. I absolutely will not blame him for fouls #4 and #5, and neither should you. Jordy was busting his nuts on the glass and was rewarded with four points from two offensive rebounds, something that has been completely absent from UD’s offense this season. His lack of speed on the defensive end can absolutely be made up for with effort, and that was on full display during his ten minutes. I know he fouled out, but don’t be a simpleton. This is kind of effort from Chimichanga that this UD team will need to make a run in March.
I’m starting to believe Travis Ford has a beat on Anthony Grant
Grant is now 4-3 against Ford in his three seasons at the helm, but I’m sure every reader here is very aware that this version of Dayton is far more talented than the SLU team that took the floor, and twice now they have forced the issue and made UD sweat it out to earn a victory. Before this season, Ford was 3-2 against Grant, so certainly nothing overly concerning just yet, but also something to keep an eye on in the coming year’s in future editions of The Cup. SLU sticks to their gameplan, doesn’t beat themselves, and does their best to amplify their own strengths against UD’s weaknesses. That’s what good coaches do.
UD effectively used SLU’s aggressive nature against them
We have said all year that UD will need to manufacture more trips to the line to keep defenses honest, and I thought they did a great job of limiting how aggressive SLU could be on the defensive end by simply creating contact and getting to the line. Rodney Chatman didn’t have the shiniest box score of all-time, but the slumping guard consistently was able to create fouls (often late in the shot clock) to make his presence felt to get on the score sheet. These are the little things you should expect out of him, especially because it has become apparent he won’t be the team’s leading scorer on any night moving forward.
Dwayne Cohill was nailed to the bench
He was also seen getting shots up on The Arena floor after the game when the kiddos had cleared out. Let the transfer speculation begin. I hope he finds a role on this squad down the stretch. No one reading this blog should be rooting for a departure at season’s end.
URI comes to town tomorrow night for a 730p tilt. Wear your red, and stay LOWD until then.