Maybe Alabama Should Stop Playing Teams from Ohio
This game was surprisingly satisfying although the result shouldn’t have been. Given how young Alabama is both as a program under first-year coach Avery Johnson and as players (they have a ton of freshmen), heading to UD arena for their second game of the year and first road game was always going to be a tall order. Having to play against a well-prepared and far more mature UD team was overwhelming. Obviously. Nobody saw a 32 point thumping coming, but that’s exactly what made it all the more enjoyable.
Regardless of the relative merits of the individual teams involved, UD beating a BCS conference team is a big deal. It’s a big deal because everyone who barely pays attention to sports thinks Dayton beating Alabama was a huge upset. It wasn’t; UD was favored by 9.5 points. It’s a big deal because whatever else happens during the season Alabama will almost certainly end up with a better strength of schedule than the Flyers which will probably help UD’s resume a bit in the long run. Maybe those of you who root for basketball teams from one of the big football conferences won’t understand why it’s so important to us. Maybe this tweet will help:
Well done, Red Scare. I can’t do better than that.
This game was competitive for about 12 minutes so I’m not going to bother summarizing anything meaningful here or break down any particular moments. Since it’s so early in the season and I’m still trying to get my bearings with this new crop of Flyers, I’m going to just summarize some takeaways from this game. Don’t worry – I don’t expect UD to win all of their games by 30+ points. We’ll see if we can settle on a standard format for these recaps as the blog evolves, but for now I think this is the most coherent way to convey my thoughts.
- ESPN highlighted Avery Johnson giving his team the lamest, most professor-y pregame speech imaginable before the game. Apparently UD “had all the weight on them.” Seems they carried that weight well.
- Hearing Jeff Van Gundy call a college basketball game is a strange experience. I’ve always liked his NBA analysis and he didn’t try to pretend like he was doing anything but commenting on what was going on in front of him so I actually enjoyed it.
- Congratulations, City and University of Dayton. I fully expected this game’s atmosphere to be underwhelming and you all showed up. The official attendance was 12,118 which is, for a 1 p.m. local start on a weekday, damn impressive.
- Somewhere, Lee Elia is furious.
- Scoochie Smith looked terrific. When he was in the game UD took off and you could basically predict when Alabama would stifle UD’s offense whenever he left the court.
- That latter point will be a problem if they can’t find a competent backup point when Scoochie sits.
- He seems to have continued his trend from late last season of looking to score more frequently.
- Kendall Pollard…woof. I know he got 2 early fouls and barely played in the first half but even when he came back for the second he forced out-of-character shots and ridiculous dunk attempts. Even his free throws – never a strength – looked rushed and half-assed. I’ll give him a pass today but this team can’t afford many more games this bad from one of its best players.
- Darrell Davis seems to have spent this offseason hitting the weights. He’s got to be at least 3.5 pounds heavier which is something like a 30% increase in body mass.
- That 3 point stroke still looks beautiful, though.
- He took most of the backup point duties and didn’t look terrible doing so, but his ball handling skills will be exposed by any teams with film of this game that don’t have a drunk of freshman (the formal group name – like a murder of crows) masquerading as a roster.
- That being said, if he adds some off the bounce scoring to his 3-point shooting he’s going to be quite a weapon.
- Dayton’s perimeter defense still bothers the hell out of other teams, which is going to be a weapon all year. Steve McElvene and Pollard on the inside should be good enough to clean up a lot of messes, too. It’ll be interesting to see how they do against a team that has a clue of what they want to do offensively.
- Which leads me to Alabama. What a mess. I know they’re young but even at the 3 minute mark of the first half I still couldn’t figure out what they were even trying and failing to do offensively.
- I’m sure people are going to fall in love with McElvene after two solid games to open his career and he is only a redshirt freshman so I’m not going to be too hard on him. I’m still seeing a lot of problems. He’s extremely slow and doesn’t seem to have any vertical whatsoever. Yes, his hands look pretty good offensively and defensively and he’s shown more offensive touch than I expected. But I’m seeing more role player than reliable starter.
- The idea of him matching up against DeAndre’ Bembre (St. Joe’s) gives me hives.
- Charles Cooke – welcome to the Jordan Sibert scoring guard role. You look like you can fill it admirably. Now never attempt another dunk where you land on your side again.
- Kyle Davis is the best perimeter defender in the Atlantic 10 – how he wasn’t elected to the preseason all-defensive team is baffling.
- Hell, he might be one of the best defensive guards in the country. People are giving Kris Dunn all kinds of preseason love and the single biggest reason UD beat Providence last year is because Kyle Davis shut him down. He might be half a great basketball player, but he’s taken a lot of pride in that half.
- If Dyshawn Pierre ever plays for them again this team is going to be frighteningly deep. The only thing they really lack is a secondary ballhandler for when Scoochie sits but Pierre and Darrell Davis might be able to handle that.
- Archie looks very willing to toss these freshmen into game action. I’m sure this will be a mixed bag of results. They really just need one or two of them to not suck game to game to have more depth than they had last year. Let’s talk about what they showed tonight.
- Xeryius Williams looked athletic and raw, which I think is the mandatory description of every freshman. He still earned his 18 minutes with energy play on both ends and the fact that UD was up by 25+ for most of the game.
- Sam Miller looks like a guy who I’m going to yell at for years. He’s going to have to make an awful lot of shots to compensate for the fact that he looks like every tall-ish skinny tweener UD has ever had.
- Ryan Mikesell. How the hell did he score 21 points in his first game? I didn’t notice him once while he was out there and he played 15 minutes.
- Bobby Wherli looks like…wait, he’s not an energy freshman? Then why is he still getting minutes?
- John Crosby played. Or so the box score says. I turned the game off before he got in.
- If Alabama doesn’t get an identity pronto they’re going to finish at the bottom of the SEC. They don’t seem athletic and they don’t seem to have a quality system either on offense or defense. Spring practice will be well attended.
- Why the hell is Stan Van Gundy a Texans fan?
- Beating a “Big 5” conference team – even a lousy-looking one – on ESPN during a showcase is a big deal. Beating them by 32 is a much, much bigger deal.
- This was UD’s 11th win in its last 14 games against SEC opponents. They haven’t exactly been playing Kentucky every game, but still.
- I ran out of original ideas 14 points ago.
- Pretty happy that UD sticks to basketball.
NEXT GAME: UD (2-0) hosts Bill & Mary (2-0) at 1:00 central.
Featured image courtesy of Dayton Daily News/David Jablonski: http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/sports/college-basketball/dayton-up-16-on-alabama-at-halftime/npPsH/