It wasn’t pretty, but they got the job done. Dayton won their opener on Tuesday night against Eastern Illinois. You all watched the game; there’s no point in recapping everything that happened. Dayton really controlled most of the game, going up by 15 and 16 points two different times during the game. They would squander those leads to a last second three by Eastern Illinois that did not go in. The Flyers escaped and started the season 1-0.
To the takeaways:
Chase Johnson’s offense is exactly what this team needs
We know what Crutcher, Watson, and Chatman bring to the offense night in and night out. That trio is one of the best backcourts in the A10 and even in college basketball. The front court was a huge question mark coming into this season. Chase Johnson answered one of those question marks, going 3-3 from the three-point line. He would finish with 14 points in the game as well. Chase providing that kind of offense at his position makes this team much better offensively. Until we don’t see it anymore, count on Chase to add some outside shooting during games, although teams do have tape on him now and will look to close out on him more at the arc.
Jordy stayed in the game.
Tshimanga had a huge concern going into this year because he literally could not stay on the court last year, getting foul after foul, sometimes almost immediately back to back. As a starter, Jordy tallied 3 fouls, but over his entire 26 minutes of playing time. Because he was able to stay out of foul trouble, he was able to put up a near double-double (10 points, 8 rebounds). Jordy did miss a could of bunnies under the rim, and he could have been a little more physical down low on both the offensive and defensive glass. He didn’t have a bad game whatsoever, but he could have played better. If he fine tunes those few things, he will end up being a very productive center as the season (hopefully) goes along.
There were many flashes of dominance.
Dayton jumped out to a 17-4 lead, getting any shot they wanted and nailing them, their first 8 to be exact. Even when they needed to ramp up on defense in the second half, they did that, holding Eastern Illinois to 0 points until the 14:15 mark. Simultaneously, they went on a 8-0 run to start the second half as well. As concerned as we were about other things (which I will get to in a moment), the Flyers showed that they can still be dominant, even if it is against a team like Eastern Illinois. The key here…consistency. It’s also game one, so they have time to straighten that out and learn to keep their foot on the pedal the entire game.
We didn’t learn much about the new guys
One thing fans were eager to see are the plethora of freshmen that were going to be playing this year. Well, Christian Wilson played the most bench minutes, so that doesn’t help. We did see that RJ Blakney is the first guy off the bench for Jordy. RJ is a big boy for a freshman. He reminds me a lot of Kendall Pollard, a big force that will learn to just bang down low and be tough under the hoop. That’s a perfect role for any big man to get in the good graces of Flyer Nation right off the bat in your first year. He scored his first bucket as a Flyer, and also pulled down an offensive rebound in 6 minutes of action. I’ll take it.
We didn’t see a lot of Zimi, who many of us were high on coming into his first semester of playing after sitting out last semester. Zimi played 3 minutes and has 0 stats; bleh. Koby Brea was injured and didn’t play. Who knows what is up with Lukas Frazier. Sissoko is a big body who put one in the hoop out of two attempts and had one assist. After what we saw with rebounding, we need him to be a big body that crashes the boards along with Jordy and RJ. Sissoko looks like he can fit that role. Hopefully next game we see some more freshmen action and what they bring to the team this year.
The main concern
This is the part where you expect me to give my take on the whole Christian Wilson thing right? Nope! My biggest concern was how they let up a 15 point lead, heck, even an 8 point lead with two minutes to go in the game. Listen, as much as we want to grope and be concerned about Wilson being on the floor, even at the end of the game, he was not the reason this game was as close as it was. Wilson was actually not terrible, other than he contributed nothing offensively. He had one steal, one turnover, and one missed shot. Crutcher and Chatman had 4 turnovers each. His missed shot was an open floater while driving in the lane with 2:41 left in the game and Dayton up 10. It wasn’t like it was a terrible shot. Other guys missed that exact same shot during the game too. Although the reason why he was on the floor for 13 minutes is concerning and puzzling, he did not kill the Flyers by being out there.
What is more concerning for me is the experienced guys that are out there were very lazy and tried to just ride the train to the finish line. There was no energy from them, even though the energy that is usually around them is gone. The team just didn’t seem to care down the stretch, as if the game was already won. Dayton was already up 8 with 1:57 to go. Although on the offensive end they tried to run clock, they didn’t get a good shot. Watson missed a three. Crutcher turned the ball over. Crutcher and Chatman missed free throws, which are normally gimmes for them. The worst part is that they didn’t seem to care on defense. Eastern Illinois got uncontested shot after uncontested shot; 2 of 4 shots were layups. This is where the Flyers needed to show their experience, puff out their chests, and get defensive stops or contest their shots. They seemed to just let the Panthers do what they wanted, knowing they would shoot free throws when they get the ball back. As the Flyers found out, you might miss said free throws, hence why the game came down to a three point shot at the end of the game.
Hopefully, Dayton learned how these games with no fans go. You have to dig deep and find your own energy when there is none around you to feed off of.
Also, this is why you play teams like Eastern Illinois for your season opener. Dayton has historically played close games for their openers, which is why you play these teams. Can you imagine if they were to play SMU for the opener? You only get one chance at those bigger programs on your schedule. It’s better to play EIU and eek out a win and fix what went wrong than lose a potential resume building game against SMU right off the bat.
Anyway, the Flyers are 1-0. See you Saturday for SMU.