On the second to last night of this god forsaken year of our Lord 2020. The Dayton Flyers welcomed the La Salle Explorers to the empty confines of UD Arena. The game was the secondary story leading into tip off. The Dayton Flyers finished their non-con with what seemed like a turning point kind of win against Ole Miss right before Christmas Break. Then, hours before tip-off, Dayton learned that Chase Johnson would once again, be leaving the Dayton program citing Mental Health issues as the reason for his exit. I hope whatever is going on with Chase he gets it figured out because it sure looks like he is wrestling with some demons. That’s the last I am going to touch on him and I wish him nothing but the best.
This was the first domino of the night, the second being that RJ Blakney and Elijah Weaver, the two subs who actually have looked competent in the non-con were out due to injury. Mustapha Amzil, a 6’10” forward from the great nation of Finland was inserted into the starting lineup after arriving on campus just 4 short days ago. No one would blame you the faithful Dayton Flyer fan for being a tad nervous coming into tonight. La Salle came into this game as one of the worst offensive teams in the nation, with a bunch of youth, and a 4-5 record and they got completely punched in the mouth right out of the gate. That’s it, end of story right? WRONG. OH BOY ARE YOU WRONG.
Dayton opened up a 16-2 lead, powered behind the Finnish arrival whom many on twitter are calling “White Death” I’ll talk about more about Amzil a little later. La Salle came to life with a quick 7-0 run to get themselves back in the game and as the problem has been all season with the Dayton Flyers, their lack of killer instinct allowed a team that was dead in the water to get one last gasp of air to breathe. A 3 by Amzil near the end of the first half gave Dayton a 5 point lead but looking at Dayton’s body language they looked like they were down 15.
The second half was death by 1000 paper cuts. La Salle caught fire after shooting 80% (!!) in the first 10 minutes, the Explorers took a blow torch to the empty arena, set it ablaze, and took a lead that they would never relinquish with 10 minutes to go. Crutcher got Dayton back to level with a 3 pointer late. Rodney Chatman came up with a steal and was fouled with 56 seconds to go tied 65-65. He would miss both FTs and Amzil came out with an offensive rebound (apparently, WE are allowed to offensive rebound it would appear) Grant would call timeout and find a way to royally fuck up a basketball game when it comes to time and score management. The Flyers with possession and 55 seconds to go need to go 2-for-1 at the end of this game. Meaning, Dayton should attack quickly so they have one more chance to score with roughly 15 seconds to go. Suffice to say they did not do that. They jacked a panic 3 at the buzzer of the shot clock that missed with 32 seconds left. This allowed La Salle to run the clock all the way down and nail a midrange jumper to give them a lead with 2.5 seconds to go. For the first time since 1999 (I was 4) La Salle came to the Gem City and left victorious.
I woke up today and this was the word that described last night. Pathetic effort, pathetic defense, pathetic late game coaching. All of it. It was straight up bad and something that fans should not be satisfied, or okay with. If you want to start calling Dayton “Gonzaga of the pick the direction of your choice” YOU DO NOT LOSE TO LA SALLE AT HOME. It’s inexcusable, from the top down. I have been one of Anthony Grants most staunch defenders and even I can’t piece together what I saw last night. The worst part? Is that Dayton didn’t even look mad or upset when they lost. They just left the floor with their tail between their legs. It was embarrassing to be a fan of Dayton basketball last night.
“Attitude Reflect Leadership Captain”
This quote from Remember The Titans is appropriate to introduce to the Dayton basketball team at where we currently stand. There is no attitude, because there is no leadership. Jalen for as good as he his, doesn’t lead his team. You would think “best defender in the country” Rodney Chatman would be that guy but he’s too busy scowling at the official or his own teammate to do that. The lack of identity and organization that this team plays with makes them very not fun to watch at the moment. Be honest with yourself for a second, have you enjoyed watching a Dayton basketball game yet this season? Lord knows I haven’t. Someone in the this locker room better take control of it quick or else Dayton is heading back to what we have always been, we are “almost” good enough.
The Finnish Reinforcement
If you made it this far, credit to you. I will end on the one glimmering shine of hope for an otherwise black hole of a performance. The fresh arrival of Mustapha Amzil prevented this game from being a blowout. This kid has been in Ohio for 5 minutes and puts up 22 and 7 on 9-14 shooting including a 3. He looked comfortable, he looked active. If this is what we are going to get from Mustapha, we are going to be okay. Hopefully he can begin to get more comfortable being here and can continue the level of play he brought to the floor last night because we are going to really need it with the departure of Dirt Road Johnson.
Look, as mad as I am and I assume most of you are as well, the season will go on. Plus, we have two GREAT opportunities for get right games with George Mason and Fordham on deck. Look at it this way, either this team will go out and take care of business and kill these teams to restore our confidence…..or they won’t and the pentagon will officially be at DEFCON 1 if that happens. I hope everyone has a very fun, and safe New Years, whether you are enjoying it with your family, friends, or significant others. We as a society fucking BATTLED in 2020 with brighter sights on the horizon. The season isn’t over, but the level of urgency certainly has been raised.
Wear Red, Be Lowd.