Ever get the feeling that a loss is worth more than just one loss? That’s what this one might feel like for Dayton fans.
In case you were lucky enough to miss out, Dayton lost on a buzzer beater to SMU by a score of 66-64. The out-of-conference schedule is already proving to be fraught with postponements and outright cancellations. The chance to beat a good team — on your own floor, no less — is not something that comes easily this season. The Flyers had that chance and properly booted the opportunity. It’s far too early to know if this will be a body blow to Dayton’s NCAA Tournament chances come March, but it certainly doesn’t feel great right now.
A few bullets:
- Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Jalen Crutcher was not good today. Ten points on 3-8 shooting is not what you want out of your preseason All-American guard. However…
- The creativity on offense that we saw last season has run dry in the early offing this season. There is going to be an understandable adjustment period in the post-Obi era, but the lack of merely trying to adjust was worrying. More often than not, Jalen Crutcher was given a handoff from a high screen. SMU predictably hedged hard and tried to deny both the quick shot and Crutcher turning the corner and driving. After those options were gone, the offense simply stopped. Crutcher was left to his own devices. He’s good but he needs help.
- Ibi Watson is playing the best ball of his life. Watson was the guy that got Dayton a bucket every time it needed it, including the game-tying three late. The Flyers will absolutely need every little bit of Ibi if they’re to go anywhere this season.
- Post play was not the problem today. Jordy Tshimanga and Chase Johnson didn’t exactly clean the glass, but it was a far cry from the rough showing this past Tuesday against Eastern Illinois. Chase Johnson looks like a certified bucket from multiple levels on the floor. The defensive lapses can be overlooked to an extent when he contributes like this offensively. Jordy Tshimanga had his best game as a Flyer with 8 points and 11 rebounds. We’re just going to have to live with some missed bunnies.
- The Flyers shot 6-20 from beyond the three-point line. I’m honestly surprised it wasn’t worse considering the lack of open looks.
- The bench rotation continues to be… weird. RJ Blakney chipped in productive minutes in the first half and then was not heard from again. Zimi Nwokeji looked a bit lost on both ends of the floor but continued to see minutes late into the game. Walk-on Christian Wilson somehow continues to be a thing. This doesn’t feel like the season to go on a vision quest to figure out what each player is all about. Time and scheduling is compressed and every team in the country needs to go with what works now, not what hopefully works down the line.
- Was the final play just a show of protest? You literally cannot, by rule, hoist a shot with less than 0.3 seconds on the clock. Rolling the ball up for a Crutcher heave is shoveling the very last pile of dirt on your own coffin. A heave towards the rim and hope for a tip might have 0.01% chance of working, but at least it’s not zero.
- Dayton has two more scheduled opportunities for a quality win in out-of-conference play against Mississippi State and Ole Miss. I say “scheduled” because assuming those games are played might be a tad presumptive at this moment. Relying on the state of Mississippi to deliver on anything productive is generally misguided.
- The Flyers need to find a way to create space for Jalen Crutcher. The second he has the ball in his hands, opposing defenses are doubling him on the perimeter or collapsing on him in the paint. It’s up to Anthony Grant and staff to find new ways to get him room to operate. Double ball screens, down screens on baseline movement, etc would all be a step in the right direction.
- Getting that each game from Chase Johnson and Jordy Tshimanga would be more than enough. It should have been enough tonight.
- Dayton is going to be working with a short bench this season by the very nature of its roster construction and the loss of Dwayne Cohill. I would suggest the rotation be one shorter and we cancel the Christian Wilson experiment. It’s not his fault in the slightest. It’s just if there is a minutes vacuum, it needs to be filled by players like RJ Blakney that will presumably be playing major minutes for the program for four more years.
Ray Stineman penned the OG Dayton Flyers blog, Flyers Fieldhouse. It was mostly terrible. He is marginally smarter now! Follow him on Twitter @godaytonflyers.