We made it everyone, We finally made it to the best time of the season. March Madness is officially here as the college basketball regular season has concluded. Our beloved Dayton Flyers had one more task to attend to before the post season began and that was to play a final home basketball game against George Washington.
Saturday was much more then just a basketball game, however. It was a celebration of the season that has been had by this program. Heights that have never (and probably will never again) be reached. It began with College Gameday coming to campus, which I will fully admit was pretty fucking awesome. (I’ve watched the intro to it no less than 100 times). Then it was a beautiful Saturday afternoon where the students made sure the pulse of the ghetto was beating. Finally, it was a send off to three players who will go down in the history of this program as three of the best and most beloved players to ever put on the red and blue. Tucked between ALL of that, was a basketball game, It’s not going to be discussed much here, but let’s talk about the game briefly:
Dayton played bad in the first half, they played good in the second and won by a million. There is your game analysis. Instead, I’d like to talk about the season we have had, what it has meant to me, and talk about just how right I was on a couple predictions from last season.
Trey Landers and Ryan Mikesell leave behind legacies that will not be forgotten
It was Senior night on Saturday and it was time to honor two players who have stuck with this program through highs and lows. Trey Landers who I would argue you could make the Atlantic 10 most improved player of the year, was the first introduction. A local kid from the city who knows how much Dayton basketball means to it. He took the vocal leadership role and thrived in it. He does so many things on the basketball court that just makes Dayton a better team and he does those things at an elite level. Sure, he has never committed a foul in his life but when it comes down to it, Trey is always a guy you want in the foxhole with you.
Chip Mikesell stands alone in Dayton basketball history. He is the first player in Dayton’s history to win 3 Atlantic 10 championships for the program. Mikesell remains to be one of the smartest and most efficient players I have ever seen play hoops for the Flyers. He is always making the correct play and taking advantage of his opportunities when they present themselves. These two guys are the kind of players that our program remains proud of long after their playing days are over. They are players that little kids who are just now starting to follow the Dayton program will talk about when they get older like I talk about Brian Roberts. These two left an indelible mark on this program and we collectively can not thank them enough for what they have done for it.
Obi Went Out With A Bang
It wasn’t just the seniors final night in the arena, it was the NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE YEAR Obi Toppin’s last game as well. Everyone with a brain knows he has a brighter star ahead of him as he will enter the NBA draft, but I want to go back and discuss something I said on my recap of senior night from last season: I said, and I quote “Obi has the opportunity to really build the hype around him by being the best player on a, fingers crossed, tourney bound Dayton team (he realistically could evolve into the best player in the conference). The Obi leap is what I am looking forward to most next season.” AND I SOLD HIM SHORT. Obi Toppin has without a shadow of a doubt been the best player I have ever seen don a Dayton uniform. His development as a player from his first year to the second is out of this world. We may never have a player like him ever again but somewhere along the way we were lucky enough to find a diamond in the rough, late bloomer superstar who is going to go top 10 in the NBA draft. Yes, Adam Silver is actually going to say “The University of Dayton” on draft night…again.
Obi, ever the showman, didn’t disappoint in his final game. Highlight reel dunks, including a between the legs tomahawk jam will be the lasting images of his time in a Dayton uniform. While we are on the topic of correct predictions, let’s talk about what I said about Jalen Crutcher in that same piece from last season: “There is no reason why Crutcher can’t be the best point guard in the A10. I am looking for him to take a big leap next year, maybe even be in first team all-league contention.” Folks, Jalen became elite, and became the best point guard in the Atlantic 10. With Obi and the seniors gone next season, it is going to become Crutcher’s team and that means that it is in good hands.
What a Time To Be Alive
This is a phrase that has been said a bunch throughout the season but it rings true. I have been following the Dayton basketball program since before I could put together a coherent thought. I have seen every type of season you could possibly imagine. Surprising teams, disappointing teams, flat out good teams, and flat out bad teams. This has been, without a doubt, the most fun I have had following one of my sports teams. The togetherness that this team shows makes it that much better. Obi could be taking 20 shots a game and no one would bat an eyelash but he plays within the system that Anthony Grant has put in to place and has made it run as efficiently as possible. He has received flack from me and others in the past but it is time to give Coach Grant his due. He has taken this program to a height that has never been reached before. He found players like Obi, and Crutcher, and developed them into legitimate college basketball stars. He put it in place the most efficient offense in college basketball in a year where offensive numbers were down across the board in the sport. He has kept this team at the “one game at a time” mentality which can be tough when 19, 20 year old kids are brought success. He is also presentable and represents the program and the school proudly. Maybe I am being naive but I believe that Anthony Grant wants to build a long and successful program here at his Alma Mater.
I began writing for the site last season and I never really thought I would enjoy this work as much as I do. I just joined because I thought it would be fun, never did I think it would be this much fun. I just wanted to take a brief moment to thank each and every one of you for reading my work. Whether you like it or hate it, it doesn’t matter, because I still enjoy putting it out there for you all.
We are now entering the most stressful part of this season. For all the glamour and heights that have been reached there is still one dark cloud that hangs over. The Atlantic 10 Tournament championship. We ticked every box we could in the regular season and now there is one more to go. I think the guys are well aware of the history Dayton has with this tournament and are going to come out like gang busters and put that notch on their belt. This team is good enough, it isn’t the normal Dayton team. How many times this year did you go into an Atlantic 10 game worried because of the history behind it? This team has basically said “Fuck your history, this is different” and they haven’t been proven wrong on that yet. This team isn’t just good enough to win the A10 championship though, oh heavens no, they are good enough to win the whole damn thing, So enjoy these coming weeks everyone, the light at the tunnel gets brighter with each passing day.
Wear Red, be LOWD, and let’s go win some more fucking trophies.