How to Blow a 23 Point Lead and Win: The Dayton-Arkansas Story

23 points.  They were up by 23 points and needed overtime to win.  At home.  Against a 6-5 team.  This is not a recipe for long-term success.

At around the 10 minute mark of the first half the Dayton Flyers were up 30-7 on the Arkansas Razorbacks.  At this point if they had played a 50-50 game the Flyers would have cruised to a 80-57 blowout of another major conference team.  Instead, they decided to take the next 10 minutes off and coast into halftime with only a 4 point lead.

The second half was a back-and-forth affair with UD taking a 3 point lead with under 10 seconds to go.  Missed free throws by Kyle Davis (1-4) and Charles Cooke (0-2) in the final minute came back to bite the Flyers squarely in the ass as some little guy for Arkansas who had scored a whopping 2 points at that point heaved in a well contested three with 1.2 seconds to go that sent the game to OT.

After struggling out of the gate in OT, the Flyers took over the final 3 minutes to salvage what would have been a very dispiriting loss to close out the non-conference slate.  Still, problems remain.

A few additional thoughts:

  • This team is still playing very inconsistent basketball.  They’ve been prone to spurts all year and while the positive spurts, particularly those to begin second halves, have been beautiful the ruts are deep and hard to get out of.  Last year they relied on Sibert to create for himself when the offense stagnated.  For all of his offensive skills Cooke isn’t great off the bounce.   They need to have a guy who looks for, can get, and can make these shots.  Luckily they have 3 guys on the roster who can do this, although two of them (Scoochie Smith and Darrell Davis) are annoyingly reluctant to do so.  The third guy is…
  • Dyshawn Pierre.  I’m quite conflicted about his return since he allegedly sexually assaulted someone and there’s far too little faith placed in the alleged victims of sexual assaults.   That being said, I don’t know what happened and there were no charges filed so I’m just going to analyze his basketball abilities without cheering for him because it makes my skin crawl.  In his first game back he played 33 minutes and already established himself as the focal point of the offense toward the end of the game.  Since he’s such a gifted passer I’m OK with him taking this role, but he’s going to be rusty for a while and there was a little too much deferring going on while he was out there.  It’ll be a work in progress.
  • Steve McElvene is a bum slayer.  Every time he’s played against quality competition he’s disappeared.  Yesterday he fouled out with 0 points.  I bet he’ll continue to start because he’s tall, but Pierre will take almost all of his minutes.  Really wish I had been wrong about when I predicted his early season success was more smoke than substance, but it doesn’t look like it.  Hopefully he’ll improve in the next 3 years.
  • I’m a little hard on Charles Cooke but the dude is a spectacular rebounder for a guard.  So is Scoochie.  If this continues it’ll be a great asset in conference play.
  • It’ll be very interesting to see what Arkansas does in SEC play.  They have some very talented players, and two spectacular ones in  Durham and Kingsley.  Sure, they’re only 6-6, but their losses have been mostly close and mostly to respectable teams so there’s some promise here.  I’m not expecting a ton from them but in a weak SEC they might finish in the upper half.
  • Dayton is 3-0 against SEC teams this season.  That’s…good.
  • Last year the Flyers seemed to improve their free throw shooting as the game wore on and sphincters tightened.  Most of that was Scoochie, Sibert, and Pierre.  Until yesterday, only one of those guys was playing this year and it’s looked just the opposite.  Guys who are 75% or better from the line become masons when the game is tight.  It’s been a problem all year and nearly cost them the game yesterday (it did cost them the Chattanooga game).  If they don’t fix this you’ll be seeing an ugly loss to SLU or La Salle or Duquesne in the near future.  Once again, Pierre will help.
  • Happy 2016 to all.  May the Flyers gel with a full roster and march to another Elite 8!  Oh, and good health and all that, too.
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