There are few places to hide on a basketball court. On any given possession, ten freakishly large and/or athletic people are fighting over 2,350 square feet. That might sound like a lot, but anyone that grew up in a house with siblings can tell you it gets tight real quick. A good basketball team needs to know who they are — and maybe more importantly, who they aren’t — to maximize that space to its fullest potential.
At this point in the season, Dayton seems to be figuring out what they should be while Rhode Island is still struggling to find a consistent identity.
Dayton beat Rhode Island on Saturday by a score of 67-56 thanks in large part to its senior guard duo of Jalen Crutcher and Ibi Watson. Crutcher and Watson scored 15 and 22, respectively, and accounted for over 55% of Dayton’s points. Dayton is now 5-1 since the Fordham debacle with Crutcher and Watson averaging 35.7 points per game between themselves and scoring over half of Dayton’s points over that same span.
After leading throughout nearly the entire first half and going into halftime up by three, Rhode Island came out firing blanks after half and was quickly buried. Fatts Russell, still recovering from injury, played sparingly and only chipped in four points on 1-6 shooting. As has been the case for much of the season, Rhode Island went away from what works when things got sticky and never recovered. Rhode Island shot 11 threes in the second half and didn’t connect until 6:20 left when the game was more or less over.
A few stray bullets:
- Dayton is getting more comfortable letting itself ride or die on the shoulders of Crutcher and Watson. And they should. There’s no sense in acting like this team can survive without mammoth efforts from one or both of these men. Crutcher and Watson once again attempted nearly half of Dayton’s field goals and accounted for over half its points. This would be a different story if they weren’t efficient. Luckily they are.
- Elijah Weaver once again played 36 minutes and, despite a rough 1-9 shooting night, contributed seven rebounds, six assists, and zero turnovers. The three no-look assists indicate he’s growing more confident in his role and could be an X factor down the stretch.
- Dayton is now 22nd in the country in eFG%. For those that thought it was all the Obi effect, some respect on Jalen Bernard Crutcher’s name please.
- In Rhode Island’s worst moments, they seem determined to shoot their way out of jams. This is a team that is 312th in the country in percentage of points from three pointers. This is not advised. And yet there they were once again in the second half in Dayton, buying a pile of scratch-off tickets and hoping the next one would be the one.
- Rhode Island allowed tempo to be dictated to them and suffered for it. The Rams are tops in the conference in initial field goal attempts coming in the first ten seconds of the shot clock. And yet they allowed a 62-possession rock fight to happen. David Cox needs to find ways to keep his team moving even when Fatts Russell isn’t at 100%.
- Antwan Walker in the Rams’ first 15 games: 8.9 points on over 60% shooting (68% from two), 6.5 rebounds. Antwan Walker in the Rams’ last three games: 4 points on 50% shooting, 4 rebounds. Small sample size and whatnot but something to monitor.