Truth be told we’ve been light on recaps this year because radio and podcasts are paying the bills these days, but when the staff of the BBR comes upon unused free time, recaps are the result.
Let’s start from the top and get a few things out of the way early on in this article that may need said depending on who’s your audience:
For the rest of the regular season, individual results of games mean very little beyond re-gaining self-respect and justifying watching mid-major college basketball two times a week. The at-large hopes of the Dayton Flyers are dead and buried underneath a house somewhere in the Bronx near Fordham. So when we find ourselves in seasons like this, the first flock to come out from hiding is the “What if we win out?” crowd. So I’ll oblige. If Dayton we’re to win out, they would be 20-3, and would hold wins over SLU twice, VCU twice, URI twice and Richmond. Sure, that would be enough to wipe away the stench of their three losses, surely. Is this team capable of running the table? Surely not, and if they do, it will likely be because multiple teams in the A10 cancel games, which of course would be including a few of the wins they need to wipe away said stench. Not happening. Next scenario.
“What if Dayton only lost once to SLU and took care of business elsewhere?”
Also a scenario to consider if you are trying to do mental gymnastics as to how the Flyers could play their way into the tournament. However, in both of these scenarios laid out, the crowd I am addressing often forgets a few factual components along the way to the end of the road:
Dayton lost to LaSalle and FUCKING FORDHAM!
Ask yourself what team in the history of college basketball could lose to two teams that dreadful and then spout off a herculean run of epic proportions and lay waste to the A10 with what would surely be nail-biter after nail-biter on a nightly basis. LaSalle has played 3 games since UD and has only beat Fordham. They got thrashed by UMass by 16 and embarrassed from tip-off to buzzer last Wednesday, losing to Mason by THIRTY THREE.
Fordham? Oh they’re doing swell. They’ve played two games since UD and lost them both: a game against. Duquesne where they scored 45 points and a comfortable defeat to Bonaventure at home by double digits.
Talk yourself into scenarios, give me all the optimistic bullshit you want, but Dayton lost to both of these teams. Those are the facts. Assuming this exact same team could rattle off a run of 13 straight wins against the top dogs in the conference is an insult to my intelligence and your own. We’ve ranted about the importance of the losses to La Salle and Fordham and the urgency of the season endlessly. We got angry, hurtful things were said, but we must move on and realize that this season has now become a marathon of keeping respect among our conference foes. If I am to accept that UD’s only path forward into the NCAA Tournament is by winning the A10 tournament, I will also use this time to immediately reset the expectations to finish top 4 in the conference. If you’re one of those people that constantly asks why UD can’t move up to a better conference, finishing outside the top 4 this season will tell you exactly why without a conversation needed. If fans of this fanbase want to keep doing the whole “we run the A10” nonsense it comes with the understanding that finishing outside the top 4 is no longer acceptable on any level for a program like Dayton. Cohill went down, Dirt Road Johnson is gone, Chatman is hurt, but there’s plenty of other promising pieces on this roster. Figure it out.
Now that I’ve properly pontificated to get everyone on the same page, UD did win a nice, comfortable ballgame on Wednesday evening, taking down DUQ by the score of 72-63. Now that I know you have read the above column, I know you have a basic understanding of how much each individual result means to this UD team, so instead of recapping a game you may have already forgotten about, let’s talk about some inalienable truths regarding our boys in the Gem City.
Dayton can lose to anyone on any night if Crutcher and Watson aren’t leading the team in scoring
This one is the most obvious, which is why I typed it first. There are 5 games this season where Crutcher/Sleepy accounted for 20 shots or less. They are: the opening win against EIU, the Ole Miss win where Chatman went off for 21 points, and the three losses. The duo has accounted for 5 games where their combined point total was under 35. It is also the five games I just mentioned. You can see where I’m headed with this. Here’s the numbers in the rest of the games I didn’t mention (all wins):
NKU: 36 combined points on 26 combined shots
Miss St: 44 points on 30 shots
Ole Miss: 42 points on 23 shots
GMU: 42 points on 23 shots
Davidson: 53 points on 31 shots
DUQ: 37 points on 29 shots
You don’t have to sift through KenPom tempo numbers and usage rates to see the trend here. Crutcher and Sleepy HAVE TO give this team 35 points or more and let’s just say 25 shots minimum on a nightly basis for them to be the best version of who they are. An aggressive Crutcher draws attention (and defenders) and Ibi must keep defenses honest from the perimeter, there just aren’t enough other options right now for scoring.
Dayton is going to turn the ball over
Dayton has yet to win the turnover battle in a single game this season. They have drawn even three times. They are still turning the ball over on 23% of possessions and committing unforced errors (resulting in TO) on 15.3% of possessions. Only three teams in the entire country are worse. If Dayton cut those turnover numbers down even 25%, they’re probably undefeated right now. I know, I know. The Flyers have turned it over 25 times in the last two contests, and that’s actually an improvement. Sheesh.
UD has all but abandoned the offensive rebounding
Going into the year the front court was a giant question mark, and its manifested itself into just kind of not existing altogether. Jordy has shown the capability to give you 20 uneasy minutes nightly, but the numbers also suggest the Flyers are at their most productive when they’re playing small, forcing the pace, and getting the first open shot available. The only game this year that Dayton won the edge on the offensive glass was against Fordham, so in an act of retreating, AG has finally said “fuck it” and abandoned the offensive boards altogether, a la Chris Mooney (Richmond has been doing this for years). With this group of personnel, given what they do best, and what the numbers dictate as far as when they’re most productive, I believe it was the right move by AG. The Flyers have proved to be inept on the offensive glass, and it didnt get any better with the loss of Dirt Road Johnson. “Get a shot up and get back on defense” is a fine game plan. UD certainly is starting to get enough legs for this to be effective. Which brings me to my next point!
We’re starting to see bright spots all over the roster within the newcomers
Moose Amzil is arguably one of the most productive freshman UD has had in the last 30 years right out of the gate. I have no idea where this team would be without his addition at the exact time they needed him. His basketball IQ is that of a grown man, his fundamentals are solid, and the game has seemingly never been too fast for him. I would love to see Moose get the green light a little bit more, because it does seem like Grant has reeled him in after his 22 point explosion in his first game. Additionally, Brea has shown an ability to get to the rim and isn’t afraid of contact, he’s exactly the type of player Ricardo Greer likes to recruit, that much is known. Elijah Weaver showed a natural ability to run the point against Duquesne when Crutcher hit the bench. Personally that was a large sigh of relief because Crutcher just can’t be asked to go 40 minutes every night heading into February. Weaver’s ability to play point and off the ball with Crutcher is another perfect addition exactly when the Flyers needed it after the loss of Chatman to injury. Zimi’s development from game one has impressed me most. UD has deployed him as a stretch “big man” 5 type-guy and if he continues to show the ability to step out and hit the three, it will open up a whole lot of floor for the guards to do some cookin. Remember I said that.
Alright, have to address one thing if this is the “come clean” article
I still just have no idea what Sissoko can give to this lineup that’s productive
We’re 10 games in. You haven’t seen it. I haven’t seen it. It is what it is. This situation reminds me of Svoboda a few years back where it was just clear the player would be best suited at another level of basketball that isn’t here in the A10. I do hope he turns it around, I just don’t see the signs here. Sorry fam.
Dayton is going to mismanage the end of halves more often than not
Blackburn wrote a whole article on this last week, using more aggressive verbiage than I tend to use. Just go take a look, it’s been spoken for with video and data and analysis. Again, it just it is what it is. Won’t take up more space explaining it.
When Dayton isn’t turning the ball over, their offense is still pretty damn efficient
And that’s the silver lining my friends. The paragraph where I take it all full circle. In this entire column I outlined the three biggest problems for the Dayton Flyers. Let’s recap!
Crutcher/Sleepy get more points/shots
Turn the ball over less
Manage end of halves better
Great news Flyers fans…these are all very fixable things! All three! Yes, the silver lining to the 7-3 Dayton record and impending importance of the A10 tournament is that all the problems ailing the Dayton Flyers are fixable. The depth is becoming more productive, the players are getting comfortable in the system, Crutcher is getting more aggressive and UD finally notched a comfortable win. Those are all dials turning the right way for UD! When you factor in that Dayton is currently the 59th best offense in the country, 12th in eFG%, 42nd in 3pt%, 14th in 2pt% and 38th from the free throw line…that’s a damn good offense! I shudder to think about how high this offense would rank if their turnovers were cut in half. I clearly think about this too much, I’m sorry.
As we said on the award-winning Talking Out LOWD Rapid Reaction podcast last night: the next week is absolutely fruitless. If the Flyers want to prove they’ve turned the corner and put the bed-shitting behind them, two wins in 4 days against GW is just the effort to do the trick.
Wear red, be LOWD.