YOUR Flyers are coming off a nice little offensive showing against Dukecane, scoring 88 points while shooting an ungodly 64.9% from the field. Don’t look now, but Dayton has a chance to go to .500 overall and in conference with a win this weekend against VCU. As you are more than likely aware, the Flyers unleashed a severe pink-socking on the Richmond Rams the last time the two programs hooked up, UD scored 106 fucking points in what was by far the most entertaining game these beautiful blue-green eyes have seen this season. There are only seven games left on the slate, this year will mercifully come to an end soon (and then we will experience what could be one of the most eventful off-seasons in Flyer history). Until then, why not sweep VCU while we have the chance?
Mike Rhoades is a lifer, man. But until then, he’s a coach of one of the worst VCU teams in recent memory. It’s been a tough year for the Rams. On top of the embarrassment in the Sweater Centre, VCU has slowly dragged itself to a 6-5 conference mark — two of those losses are gut-punches against crosstown rival, Richmond. Although Rhoades team did manage to get by Fordham earlier this year, there isn’t a single win for the club to hang their hat on.
Obviously, there are plenty of parallels to draw between VCU and Dayton this year. From taking the temperature on the ‘Net (rectally, of course), the significant difference seems to be the immediate visions for the future. Whereas UD fans are accepting that this season might be as bad as it gets under the Anthony Grant regime, Virginia Commonwealth fans are rightfully concerned about next season. Dayton fans can see light at the end of the tunnel, young pieces forming a whole puzzle. VCU fans? Not so much. Dayton fans are apprehensive, VCU fans are sweating. Hopefully both programs rise up to previous levels, but if I’m a betting man (and having my dog’s decapitated head sent to my work means I probably am), I’m putting my money on Dayton being the superior team going forward.
Justin Tillman’s impending graduation has much to do with VCU fan’s consternation. The perpetual thorn in Dayton’s side has only a few games left in yellow and black, how Rhoades compensates for his absence next year is a paramount concern. The 6’8″ manimal leads the team in scoring, rebounding, block and sheer supremacy. I’m not even sure if I have to write this, but I will, mark down Tillman for yet another double-double against UD. It’s just business to him, never personal. Sean Mobley, the White Shadow, is a big body that can shoot it a bit. Although he didn’t do much of anything against Dayton the first time around, he’s “one of those guys” that seem to have big nights against the Flyers.
Jonathan Williams, who is all thighs, runs the point for the Rams. He’s a solid distributor of the basketball, not a major threat shooting the ball. De’Riante Jenkins is a name you should probably get used to hearing. He’s a really athletic wing who can SCORE THE BALL. Just a sophomore, Jenkins seems poised to take over the VCU offense next season. Issac Vann, the transfer from Maine, is Rhoades fifth starter. Vann is a 6’6′ forward, a decent defender who probably shoots more than he should.
VCU has a serviceable bench, led by Khris Lane, Mike’l Simms and Malik Crowfield. Lane provides some scoring punch and is an asset on the board. Simms has shown flourishes of potential throughout the season, haven’t we all, but simply hasn’t been consistent enough this year. Crowfield essentially hammers his feet behind the three-point line and jacks away with impunity. This is a team Dayton already beat by 27 so I’m not going to delve any deeper into the Rams’ reserve pool.
- If this Dayton team somehow ends up with a good enough, and I use that phrase extremely lightly, record to earn some sort of postseason tournament opportunity, let me be the first to plead with the powers that be not to accept it. I know, I know — “it’s good experience, it’s good for the younger kids, DURRELL deserves a chance to hang a CIT banner in the Arena.” I understand all those completely legitimate arguments. However, like any traumatic event, I just want it over.
- Had this actual argument last weekend — what if for one game the Flyers ONLY shoot two-point shots? Do they score more points? How quickly do opposing defenses pack it in? It’s interesting because UD is literally second in the nation in two-point field-goal percentage, which is bolstered by the fact that this year’s Flyer team has no interest in easy transition buckets. I’d pay good money to see it happen. (Considering UD takes an absurd 45% of its shots from behind the arc, FORTY-FIVE PERCENT!, I don’t see that happening any time soon).
- No, I have no fucking clue what’s going on with Xeyrius Williams, none. His regression is probably the most puzzling and frustrating. X started the season as a 30+ minute starter and has played a combined four minutes the past two games. He’s having a DURRELL Davis junior season, rough stuff.
Clearly no one (reading this) expects Dayton to go into Will Wade Arena and unleash an absolute bloodletting against VCU again. While the Rams’ gym has been a steady advantage in seasons past, VCU has already experienced double-digit losses at home this year (against Richmond and Rhode Island). It’s not quite the Terrordome anymore. Part of that has to do with talent drain, which is cyclical and happens to all programs. A larger part is simply the energy of the team. Gone are the HAVOC days, where the Rams would punch, scratch and claw their way to turnover after turnover to the delight of the adoring crowd. VCU no longer turn teams over at an accelerated rate, nor do they keep teams from scoring with modesty (KenPom describes the Rams’ defensive fingerprint as “inconclusive,” which seems spot on.) I say all that to say this — UD will win this game. You don’t drop a deathblow on a team and then turn around a month later without playing with confidence. While certainly not a blowout, the Flyers do enough to win, beating the Richmond Rams 71-69.