Inside the Numbers w/ Dayton: Free throw woes, and Dayton’s new unlucky number

Inside the Numbers is a brand new series on Hoop Ten Harbor that looks at some of the most interesting statistics regarding each team in the Atlantic 10 conference. This week, we’ll take a look at the Dayton Flyers, arguably the best team in the conference this season. Despite continued success, the Flyers just dropped a road game to the La Salle Explorers 57-61. First, we’ll take a look at the numbers behind Dayton’s recurring free throw issues. Then, coincidental or not, we’ll take a look at what exactly is turning out to be Dayton’s unlucky number.

1. Free Throw Woes

Dayton ranks 213th in the nation in free throw shooting with a team average of 67.8%. The Flyers rank 9th in the conference in this category. In the three losses that Dayton has sustained thus far, it’s shot 62.2% from the charity stripe as a team. Even worse, the Flyers are 57.9% from the line during the last five minutes of these three games. Granted, the game against Xavier was a blowout, but Dayton has proved inefficient in converting its free throws down the stretch in crunch time. Bad free throw shooting has caused it to lose two games it should’ve won.

Dayton has managed to escape games that it easily could’ve lost due to poor performance at the free throw line. The Flyers went 25-36 (69.4%) from the charity stripe in a non-conference clash with Arkansas. But in the last 5 minutes of regulation? The Flyers were 1-6. Lucky for them, they were able to force overtime where they would go on to shoot 7 of 9 from the free throw line. When Dayton narrowly escaped Miami (OH) 64-63, it did not attempt a free throw in the last five minutes of the game. That being said, the Flyers shot just 9-16 (56.3%) on the night. They’re missing easy points by failing to convert at the free throw line, and as a result, they’re allowing some inferior teams to hang with them. This has to drive Archie Miller absolutely crazy. The fact that two of Dayton’s three losses could’ve been wins if the Flyers knocked down their free ones is maddening. If you’re Miller, you need your team to correct this ASAP.

2. Does Dayton have an unlucky number?

The number is 61. The Flyers don’t necessarily have to score 61 points, but in all three of their losses, this number has appeared on the scoreboard. Back in the Championship game of the AdvoCare Invitational, the Flyers got destroyed 90-61, en route to their first loss of the season. Just a couple weeks later, Chattanooga came to town and handed the Flyers their first home loss with a 61-59 victory. Most recently, the Flyers lost on the road to La Salle 57-61 to move to 2-1 in conference play. Is it a coincidence? Maybe, maybe not, but the one thing we know for sure is that Dayton struggles when it fails to surpass that 61 point benchmark.

The Flyers are 0-3 this season when failing to score more than 61 points. The fewest points that it took Dayton to win a basketball game was 64 when the Flyers edged Miami (OH) back in December. Kenpom ranks Dayton 33rd in the nation in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, and even though it’s often times the defense that gets the job done, Dayton’s offense essentially dictates whether or not the Flyers will emerge victorious. When the Flyers have scored at least 80 points in a game this season, they have won by an average of 19.5 points. This statistic is incredible, especially considering some of the opponents that Dayton has beaten when scoring 80+ points: Iowa, Alabama, Arkansas, North Florida. When the Flyers shoot the roof off the building, there’s essentially no way to stop them; when they struggle with their shot and fail to put up more than 61 points, trouble may ensue. They say defense wins championships, but for the Flyers, it just might be the other way around.

Grant Labedz is a college basketball superfan who loves the entire sport but definitely has favorites in the A-10 and the Big Ten. He has written for ...