The Dayton Flyers took a second half push to top the Duquesne Dukes 80-70 at UD Arena on Saturday afternoon. This win took a little bit of an extra effort from the Flyers, who were down at halftime for just the second time all season. Dayton extended their win streak to 16 games and a 24-2 record (14-0 in conference play). Duquesne lost their second in a row. Their record now stands at 18-8 (8-6 on conference play). Let’s get to the takeaways from this game.
Obi Toppin is the clear Player of the Year
If Mr. Toppin was not everyone’s front runner before yesterday’s game, he should be now. Obi had a huge game today, scoring 28 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal, and a block. He scored all of those points on 11-16 shooting, including 3-5 from three-point range. This is the effort that is not going to allow the Flyers to lose on most nights. Obi just didn’t post this huge stat line; he did it in style. His threes helped the team stay in the game in the first half, where he was the only Flyer to hit anything from the arch in the first 20. Plus, let’s not forget the dunks in the second half. His main three dunks included a jump from the A10 logo, a reverse two handed slam from an alley-oop, and finally a windmill dunk from a vertical after a Trey Landers’ pass. It was the perfect cap on a great afternoon from Toppin.
As for player of the year talks, Obi should now be the front runner for the award. He is in the running along with Luka Garza, Markus Howard, Miles Powell, and even Payton Pritchard. The way Obi is getting to the rim, shooting the three, shooting effectively from the paint, and showing off his athleticism, he should be the favorite to win Player of the Year. There is no one else in college basketball that has the complete skillset like Toppin, whose effort each night is helping his team to a top 5 ranking, the longest win streak in the nation, and a possible one-seed. To me, that wins him the prestigious award.
You need 40 minutes or more to beat Dayton
Duquesne did lead Dayton at halftime on the road, which was a shocker to everyone around college basketball. The Dukes were getting a complete effort from Sincere Carry, Michael Hughes, and Marcus Weathers, the big three for Duquesne, if you will. Duquesne was shooting better than their normal offensive numbers suggest. They were shooting hero ball and getting many shots to fall, which helped to take a 2 point lead into the locker room. However, that did not carry over into the second half. The defense collapsed, as evidenced by the number of Toppin dunks. They were unable to contain Jalen Crutcher, who scored all 17 of his points in the second half. They had a lot of standing around on offense and made it difficult to keep up with the Flyers’ scoring. Duquesne got down by as many as 17 points in the second half, and the route continued. Although they only lost by 10, the score did not indicate how dominant Dayton was in the second half. Duquesne should be proud of their effort; they did not back down. But, this further proves that you need a complete 40+ minute effort to beat the Flyers.
Dayton needs to be more than Obi Toppin to win
Even if Obi ends up being the Player of the Year, his efforts in games alone will not help Dayton win, especially in March. Toppin had 14 points in the first half, but Dayton did not get much of a contribution from anyone else besides Landers, who was all over the glass and seems to be getting better every game. Furthermore, Jalen Crutcher did not score a single point in the first half. This seemed to be part of the case as to why Duquesne led at halftime. In the second half, it was a different story. Dayton lit up the Dukes with a couple of threes from Crutcher, Toppin, and Chatman, and they were moving the ball much better to get open layups and dunks in the paint. Dayton’s second half included 17 points from Crutcher, who struggled for most of the afternoon but still found a way to drop 17 points, including 7-7 from the free throw line. Dayton needs Toppin and Crutcher to contribute every game. If you only get one or the other, and do not get contributions from anyone else, games might get a little bit more stressful for the Flyers. Once again, when you are top 5 in the country, you are going to get everyone’s best effort, which means you better bring your best effort every single night. Example A: San Diego State vs UNLV and Gonzaga against BYU.
Duquesne needs this effort to make a run in Brooklyn
Even though their effort did not get the job done on Saturday, Duquesne still played really well. If they played with this kind of effort in every game, they would most likely have a top 4 spot in the A10 standings. Dayton is a power program this season; we know this. It is hard for teams like Duquesne to beat them even with a huge effort for 40 minutes. But, no other team in the A10 is like Dayton, which bodes well for the Dukes. This effort and shooting could get Duquesne all the way to Sunday in the A10 Tournament. They are most likely going to have to play 4 games, but it is not improbable that a team playing on Thursday can win the whole thing. The effort would most likely beat every other team in the A10 this season. Duquesne needs to bottle this effort and open it up every game for the rest of the season.
Dayton might deserve three players on the First-Team
It is a consensus that Obi Toppin is the A10 Player of the Year. Jalen Crutcher has now played himself onto the first-team as well. It seems like those two are a package deal for the first-team. The only other player in the A10 that is a first-teamer for sure is Fatts Russell. After those three, it is a race for the final two spots, and a plethora of players can grab them. So, why not another Dayton player? More specifically, why not Trey Landers? The senior is, analytically, the most important player on Dayton’s roster. Yes, even more important that Toppin or Crutcher. Landers has even been on and off of Ken Pom’s all-kenpom team. Although it is very improbable that one team gets three players on the first-team, Dayton could possibly do it with Toppin, Crutcher, and Landers. If not, then Landers is definitely a second-team player. He is just so important to this team, and if you are the most important player on a top 5 (and maybe even top 2 or 3 come next Monday), you might deserve to be on the first-team.
Dayton travels to Fairfax to play George Mason on Tuesday. Duquesne travels up to Olean to take on St. Bonaventure on Wednesday for a big showdown that could get the Dukes back in the 4 seed conversation.