On Tuesday night, we were slightly-shocked to see Dayton blow an 18-point lead at the hands of the Rhode Island Rams, a team that the Flyers beat handily in UD Arena a few weeks prior by 11. This was the second most note-worthy collapse of the season, the first being a 17-point collapse at home to the La Salle Explorers.
This time, it was way more frustrating due to the way the Flyers lost. Dayton had built the double-digit lead resembling what they did last season, using an all guard/all combo lineup that was able to space the floor and run the fast-paced, efficient offense that has made Dayton so successful during Anthony Grant’s tenure at Dayton. Basically, that means leaving Jordy Tshimanga off the floor most of the game.
Don’t get me wrong, we love Jordy. He has been a good staple of the team and provides a big body down low that matches up well to the other good bigs around the A10 like Hasahn French, Michael Hughes, Makell Mitchell, and AJ Wilson, to name a few. On Tuesday night, Jordy was in foul trouble right out of the gate. He ended up with three fouls at the end of the first half, but also picked up a fourth early on in the second, sending him to the bench. It was obvious that it was not Jordy’s night, and that’s ok. Sometimes it is just not your night. Jordy has had plenty of games this year where he has been effective on both ends of the floor.
When Jordy exited the game, the offense combinations of Crutcher, Watson, Weaver, Chatman, Nwokeji, Amzil, and Blakney, all guard/forward combo players, built a double-digit lead over Rhode Island. These group of guys all played efficiently and effectively throughout most of the game. Yes, there were combinations that resulted in some bad defensive performances, but the offense never stalled with these guys on the floor, and this team needed to keep up the offensive intensity to stop the Rams from climbing back into it, which they inevitably did. Below is the chart of all the different lineup combinations that Dayton threw out there against Rhode Island:
As you can see, the best offensive lineup as far as scoring with minutes played was Watson, Crutcher, Amzil, Chatman, and Nwokeji. They struggled defensively, which is surprising with Chatman out there, but he was just getting back to playing after being out for 6 weeks. Personally, I believe this is the best lineup Dayton has and the defense will improve once Chatman is back to his normal self defensively.
The best small-sample lineup was Crutcher, Amzil, Blakney, Chatman, Nwokeji, so no Watson or Weaver. I like this lineup when Watson is on the bench just because defensively they were good but also because they were able to go on an 8-0 run in two minutes. This is my second favorite lineup.
The third best was the Watson, Crutcher, Amzil, Blakney, Nwokeji (see how important Zimi is now?), so basically no Weaver or Chatman. This lineup is centered around Crutcher running the point, which is what many Flyer fans want to see, the ball in the hands of their best player for the majority of the possession. Also a small-sample size, but this could be effective as well both offensively and defensively (this group went on a 6-1 run in 2 minutes).
There were some lineups that were out there with this group of guys that were not so great, basically most lineups without Crutcher or Nwokeji in there (Zimi had an incredible game). But pretty much those two in the game with a combination of Watson, Weaver, Chatman, Amzil, and Blakney got the job done.
As for. the lineups with Jordy, the best one was the starting lineup of Weaver, Crutcher, Watson, Amzil, and Jordy. This group was out there together for only 6 minutes due to Jordy’s foul trouble, but they were the most effective Jordy lineup. The other lineups with Jordy in there had an even or negative NET rating. Basically, this was not a good game by Jordy. Like I said earlier, that happens sometimes. Even the best players have bad games.
For those of you wondering, Jordy came back in the game with 4 fouls at the 7:18 mark of the game with Dayton leading by 12. Rhode Island would go on a 20-8 run to end regulation and force overtime. Not saying this was all on Jordy, but Rhode Island was able to do some things against Dayton due to a true big man like Jordy being on the floor.
Overall, the point of this post isn’t to bash Jordy. He has been a good player for us and has improved a lot from last year to this year. My point is that the lineups that work best in a particular game need to be played the most, especially the most down the stretch in a tight game. This means that Coach Grant needs to stop forcing players in the game that are not proving to be effective on that particular night, no matter who the player is. I know Grant most likely does not have real time data like the chart above during the game, but even most of us on Dayton twitter pointed out before seeing this data that the lineups with Jordy on the bench were the most effective to building that double digit lead in the second half. I would have to think that Grant was able to see this as well, which is why that first lineup played 14 minutes in the game.
Although the loss means nothing in the grand scheme of things of the season for Dayton, it is still disappointing that things like this are still shooting the Flyers in the foot. Hopefully we see more growth from our youth and our seniors can go out on top as we approach senior night at UD Arena.