Did the Arch-Baron Cup deliver again or what?
Another classic showdown between the Flyers and Billikens took place in front of an absolute mad house of 300 people at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis, MO. The Flyers came into town still licking their wounds from the beat down they took at the hands of VCU on Saturday. And to be honest, not many people (the author of this blog included) believed they had a chance in sam hell at winning this basketball game. So naturally, Dayton won the basketball game. At surface level this is a very surprising result and one that not many saw coming, however, when you dig a little bit deeper it may not have been as big of a surprise as we initially anticipated. Firstly, it has been well documented that this was SLU’s first game since December 23; over a month between playing a live game that matters. Secondly, Dayton has played well in games following clunkers. (See: Davidson, GMU) When you put it into that perspective, last night shouldn’t been as shocking as many are making it out to be. It also helps when the two most important players on your team play every minute, combine for 47 points and shoot a combined 56% from the field and 60% from 3. It was the Crutcher and Ibi show with some timely help from their friends. Let’s dive deeper shall we?
I'm told no one is allowed to touch the Arch Baron Cup this year because of COVID-19 concerns, but all the Flyers are staring at it lovingly from a distance at this moment at Chaifetz Arena. pic.twitter.com/f9MuO6obOf
— David Jablonski (@DavidPJablonski) January 27, 2021
Dayton jumped on the Billikens early in the contest with four 3-pointers in the games first four and a half minutes (more than they made in 40 on Saturday). Dayton didn’t score a two point field goal until Zimi (we’re gonna talk about him later) dunked one home at the 12:42 mark of the 1st half. Dayton kept SLU at arms length for the entirety of the half. Some poor defense in the final minute of the first half cut the deficit to five and you began to get the inkling that Dayton was going to have to hold on for dear life to pull this one out. SLU began building some momentum and definitely did not play their best ball in the first half. They probably saw being down five at the break as a good spot for them to eventually take the game over and get back on track.
In the second half the offense became scarce in the first 8 minutes for both squads. The Dayton Drought (trademark pending) finally arrived as UD got stuck on 42 points for seven minutes of game time. In that stretch SLU trailed by six but could only get the deficit down to two before another Ibi Watson long ball spearheaded a quick 7-0 run for the Flyers to give them some much needed breathing room. At the U8 timeout Dayton held a 53-46 lead. At this point SLU was either going to make it a game or they weren’t, and make it a game they did. They countered with a 7-0 run of their own and tied the game at 53 and it was on. From here, just like last season, the game, the gym, and the entire city of St. Louis, belonged to Jalen Crutcher. Here were all of Dayton’s points in the final 4:01
4:01: Crutcher 3 (58-55)
3:24: Crutcher layup (60-57)
2:34: Amzil 3 (63-57) sidebar: Moose struggled tonight, but this shot was massive
1:49: Crutcher made 3 (66-57)
1:13: Crutcher layup-and one (69-59)
1:00-0.00: 7 made FT’s (3 from Crutcher)
14 points in the final 4:01 of the game from the man from Memphis. For a second year in a row Jalen Crutcher sends SLU packing with a L in their own arena. A better Arch-Baron Cup player, you will not find.
What. A. Night. pic.twitter.com/PAntxAgU6s
— Dayton Basketball (@DaytonMBB) January 27, 2021
The Stars showed up:
As many of us have stated on the various platforms we have, for Dayton to be successful it is going to take herculean efforts from their two best players. That is exactly what the Flyers got last night out of Jalen and Ibi. As stated above, both these guys played 40 minutes and combined for the bulk of the Dayton scoring on the evening. It is the world we live in now, for Dayton to win these type of games, these kinds of efforts are going to be necessary. Sure, you might be able to pick up the slack from one of them on an off-night, but you sure as hell can’t have them both off on the same night. That is what leads to the debacles like the one on Saturday. It’s a burden to carry for certain, but the Dayton Flyers are going to go as far as Ibi and Jalen are willing to take us.
New Faces Showing New Skills:
Elijah Weaver is beginning to emerge as a key cog of this Dayton lineup. He is a calming presence as a ball handler and is really allowing Jalen to thrive playing off ball. Weaver still has some work to do on his shooting form, but he’s big at his position, has a quick first step, and is crafty around the rim. He’s only going to get better with more comfort and he is showing tangible improvement game over game. Speaking of improvement, round of applause for Zimi Nwokeji! His best game in a Flyer uniform and he is REALLY starting to come along: nine points and four boards on 50% shooting and chipping in a 3-pointer. His big improvement is his confidence. He is beginning to look sure of himself and trust what he supposed to do and he is hitting the ground running with it. Even Sissoko who I have been publicly hard on this season gave Dayton some big rebounds and defense last night in the midst of, well, what he normally gives UD. Moose Amzil struggled a bit but hit a big shot when needed and chipped in three boards and three assists. The young guys getting as much experience as possible is critical for their future development, and going on the road and beating a ranked opponent will instill some confidence and belief that they can do it against anyone.
Dayton took care of their weakness for at least one night:
Short one here, but Dayton only turned the ball over 11 times last night and WON THE REBOUNDING BATTLE I REPEAT THE DAYTON FLYERS BEAT ST. LOUIS ON THE BOARDS IN A REAL GAME. The Flyers limited the Billikens to 2 offensive rebounds for the entire game. These rebounding efforts need to remain and if we can keep shaving off the turnovers little by little you will see a very different basketball team come February and March.
Last night on the Rapid Reaction podcast (out now however you take your podcast) Sully let out a rant about how frustrated he was that Dayton won this game because we should be discussing this as a resume building win not a resume crushing loss for SLU. He is right, we should be talking about it that way but the reality of our situation is that is not the case. So what does the game mean in the grand scheme of things? For one, it’s another ABC win which I will never scoff at. Second, it builds these young guys confidence going forward that they can compete with anyone, anywhere (in the context of the Atlantic 10) and third it starts some forward momentum for Dayton. They aren’t going to make the dance without winning the Atlantic 10 tourney BUT this team has a feel to them of a team that everyone does not want to see in the Atlantic 10 tournament if they are playing up to task. The Atlantic 10 stinks this year, it does. There isn’t a clear alpha dog like the Xavier teams of the past or Dayton last season. There are multiple teams who can get hot and win that thing and Dayton is in the category. If Crutcher and Ibi get hot at the right time and the young guys continue to show that gradual improvement they showed last night? Hell yeah they can win 3 in the A10 tourney. Is it likely? Probably not. However Dayton took a necessary step forward as a group last night, and with how crazy, whacky, and stupid the last 1o+ months have been……shit, why not us?
Wear red and remain LOWD until Saturday. Tip is at 4p with the Rams of Rhode Island.