The long awaited opener is finally here and I couldn't be more excited. I am hoping we get a good look at how the newest Dayton squad will mesh.
A few quick things I will be looking for tonight:
- How many minutes can Jordy track a game without finding himself in foul trouble?
- How will coach manage rotations with Chase/Zimi/Sissoko?
- Freshman. How college ready are the young ones?
- Ibi, Crutch, and Chatman: The potential to be one of the best guard trios in the nation starts tonight, I hope to see them bring the heat.
Those are the major points from me, STAY LOWD, GO FLYERS
1. Jordy looks comfortable in his new role, fouls through this point have not been a major area of concern and his effort and grit has exceeded my expectations a bit I must admit. I am on board and hopeful the production can continue to grow.
2.A.) Chase looks like the missing piece to a puzzle we didn't know existed. He looks comfortable knocking down open looks from 3, has shown a bit of midrange, and can actually dunk (unlike Jordy at times, sorry)
2.B.) Sissoko. Scary. Not a guy you want to cross. Big boned and big bodied. The sky is the limit for Sissoko if he can continue to develop. He has shown some nice flashes, a couple of buckets, some blocks and rebounds that show promise thus far. Of the young ones, I really look forward to seeing what he can become.
2.C.) Zimi has been a non-factor so far. I am quite disappointed seeing as he has been with the team for about a year now and should understand the system and his role. He has 0 shots attempted, a handful of fouls, and 1 TO. Egregious output. He needs to get better FAST or make room for Blakney.
3.) Which is a great transition into the freshman. True freshman.
Koby - injured and still possibly a redshirt depending on the desires of Coach Grant. Got a couple shots up in warmups today which is a good sign for his recovery.
Luke - ??? Bad effort in practice? Not college ready yet? Redshirt? Injured? Who knows... certainly not me.
BUT, not all hope is lost for we have Blakney! His body size, stature, shape, all remind me of a recent Flyer great; Kendall Pollard (although his game is not quite as gang-buster). While he was timid in the first two games he is becoming more comfortable and played his best half in a Flyers uniform just minutes ago. Once he gets into the groove of things I think he will be just fine. Yes, freshman mistakes, dumb fouls, etc. but he looks good, promising even.
4.A.) IBI... exceeding some rather high expectations. Great, smart play. The guy who makes the shot when we need it most, kinda like what we all thought Crutcher was going to be. Clean up the silly, lazy passes and keep doing you Ibi.
4.B.) Crutcher... forgot his shoes the first two games. Looks a little lost without his sidekick Obi, but we all know he will bounce back. While I have been rather disappointed with Jalen through the first 2 games, the first half tonight looked a little better. He just needs to find his stride and remember that attempting to impress NBA scouts is not going to do you any favors if you don't play YOUR game. He will be fine, rust must be shaken.
4.C.) Chatman... Still am not a big fan of Rodney getting the majority of minutes at the 1 spot. Crutcher creates at the 1 based off talent, agility, and wellll... flatout playmaking ability. While I understand saving Crutcher's legs for the final minutes, we need to prioritize playmaking and getting into the game early and often... that just happens to be Crutcher's niche. Limit Chatman to around 45-55% of the touches at the 1 and the offense won't seem so stagnant at times. That being said, he has outplayed Crutch through the first 2.5 games so, what do I know? Rodney, shake the rust, don't force it, and everything will be just fine.
5.) Wilson... Did not anticipate a walk-on getting big minutes for the former #3 team in the nation, but he has provided some decent minutes on the defensive side and has fouls to give. Offensively, I think my grandmother might be more productive... sorry bud, but she's got game. Anyway, bench is short currently and we may need him for a few minutes a game, but he's too commonly second off the bench for a guy with literally 0 offensive production. This is more a critique of the National Coach of the Year than Wilson, but as I learned last season.. In Coach I Trust.
Positives: Jordy, Chase, Ibi.
Negatives: Crutch (thus far), Zimi, and the ghost of Luke Frazier.
CLutcher sure knows how to make himself cozy in Chaifetz Arena.... just not so cozy in Richmond.
A great win for the Flyers after the game that shall not be named from last weekend, but this is very bad for the A10. It seems that every year our multi-bid conference eats itself into one clear tournament team and the A10 tourney winner. Unfortunately for SLU they caught my Flyers on the wrong night. Now this doesn't mean SLU is no longer destined for the NCAA tourney, but it does mean they have much less room for error.
Back to the Flyers... coming into this game with a 105 NET after a despicable performance against VCU and now a win over #22 SLU I have no idea where our NET will end up, but almost certainly somewhere between 130 and 70.
This team's identity is as clear to a casual observer as it is to opponents coaches... IF Ibi and Crutch are off we lose, if they are on we win. It is somewhat difficult at this point in the season to provide much more analysis than that. Our bench is slowly improving, namely Zimi, Koby, and Blakney, and despite 2 important injuries (Cohill and Chatman), as well as the loss of Chase Johnson, the Flyers are still 9-4 (5-3).
- The losses to Fordham, LaSalle, and VCU were ugly and certainly showed us the floor of a Dayton performance. Similar to what the entire college basketball universe knows; when Crutch and Ibi are off, so is this team.
- Amzil has been slowly declining since his wonderful appearance in his first game out. He needs better shot selection and to avoid over-handling the ball, just get it back to Crutcher and everything will be fine.
- Zimi is steadily improving into a small but uber athletic big who can cut, rebound, and score in close to the hoop.. much better than player he looked to be just weeks ago.
- Blakney is a burst of energy when he steps on the court, hopefully the injuries are healing proficiently as we will need more bench contributions as we move further into A10 play.
- Elijah has wonderful court vision, outpacing Crutcher on assists and finding Zimi, Mo, and Jordy often in places where they have easy dunks/ buckets.
- The win tonight: Not only did it show us how well this team CAN play against tough competition, but it proved that this team can be what all Flyer fans thought they could be at the beginning of the season.... meaning better than losing to LaSalle and Fordham and competing for a top 4 spot in the league.
There exists 4 realities for this team (at least the way I see it):
Best case scenario: we win out minus 1-2 games, or at least avoid bad losses, finish top 4 in the league and are a bubble team Selection Sunday with a solid A10 tourney performance. I give this about a <10% chance.
Possible: We coast to an average/ above-average A10 finish but catch heat and win the A10 tourney. Less than 5% chance we have enough momentum to win the A10 tourney, but anything can happen.
Most likely: We win a couple games we shouldn't and lose a couple we shouldn't. End up in the NIT with a decent A10 tourney show. >40% chance.
Possible: We under-perform, lose too many games we shouldn't, finish in bottom half of the league and don't see the NIT or NCAA. I give this probably a <20% chance.
Here we are talking about Dayton basketball in March, for the first time in what seems like ages. I have seldom needed to post on this thread throughout the season for fear of redundancy, but nevertheless the A10 tourney is here and there's reason to be excited for all us A10 basketball fans.
Dayton faces off tomorrow against URI. Which I am sure everyone on this board already knows. However, there is some breaking news coming out of the URI camp that will impact the matchup. Senior, Jeremy Sheppard will not be available against the Flyers tomorrow. He scored 33 points against us in two matchups (16 and 17 respectively) and is a substantial 3pt threat. This may spell bad news for the Rams as they have lost now 6 of their last 7, only beating Dayton in the double OT performance on their senior night, February 16th.
I am going to place my bets now on a Dayton victory tomorrow (73-65) and Friday matchup with the other Rams of VCU.
There is no telling how healed Bones Hyland will be by Friday, but that will be a major factor in the matchup as Bones seems to be the only guard in the A10 capable of singlehandedly containing Crutcher's impact.
Dayton may have some fire under their belly and revenge on their mind in this matchup but I see VCU being too much for our Flyers, that is UNLESS Bones is nowhere near 100%.
If Dayton advances I see them in a manageable matchup against either Davidson or Mason for a chance to play for a Championship on our home court.
Of course none of the speculation will mean anything if the better of the two Dayton squads doesn't show up, but it is early March and every fanbase has a free pass to be as hopeful as ever.