Good Wins: 11/29 vs. Marquette (Neutral), 2/11 vs. Xavier, 2/28 vs. Temple.
Bad Losses: 1/10 vs. UMass (Neutral), 2/8 @ Charlotte, 2/21 @ St. Louis
1. Defense. With forty minutes within which to operate opponents cannot muster 60 ppg against UD. Quick hands at each position help the Flyers compensate for being out of position more than occasionally. They get their hands up constantly, while intriguingly giving up the baseline often. This may be intentional as it is impossible to score behind the backboard, but its curious nonetheless. Also Dayton, as a unit, overplays the ball side. Their best perimeter defender is unfortunately out for the year with a knee injury. Many times this year Dayton has pulled out a close win with a key defensive top or two. The Flyers are 10-1 in games decided by five points or less. When ‘Win or go home’ formats commence this capability to close the door will prevail.
2. Charisma. Because Dayton finishes plays in the rafters with flashbulbs popping they will collect fans like dust in an apartment. This slight edge could mean a win or two in the Big Dance, as most attendees are in fact undecided pregame. Marcus Johnson is a great leaper who Coach Brian Gregory often calls alley-oops for and Chris Wright is the best frontcourt leaper in the Midwest. Wyclef Jean look-alike London Warren leads the party.
1. Discretion. Dayton basketball made a transition similar to Texas this year. Maybe more accurate would be Florida’s change following Anthony Roberson’s departure in 2005. Both UD guard Brian Roberts and Roberson dominated the ball and took countless shots. The lone difference was Roberts needed to whereas Roberson wanted to. Chris Wright and Rob Lowery specifically take a lot of low percentage shots. Wright has the right of way with these guys. His talent slaps you like a Bam Margera palm to the face. Too often Wright lofts a hopeful shot when another step or spin would grant him two FTs. Luke Fabrizius, “The Chucker”, has only one redeeming quality. He takes, misses but takes, open shots. Later in his career he may become Steve Novak. Right now he is just a loss of possession.
2. Free throws. Why does this weakness appear so often? It’s almost…a trend. Some teams escape this pitfall; others do not. Dayton’s style of play points towards the negative. The Flyers get into the lane constantly. They tend to draw a lot of shooting fouls. To the aggressor go the spoils. Sadly these spoils are often spoiled (66% FT) by substandard free throw shots. The Flyers are 13th in their conference in this vital stat column.
Bench: Coach Gregory digs deeper into his bench than almost any other coach. A dozen players play. And they all contribute on some level every night. A freshman out of C-Bus, Chris Johnson is an emerging wing with big shoulders and quick hands. Paul Williams, reigning Mr. Basketball from Michigan, yanks down a rebound every other minute despite an inability to jump over a dime. He must have missed countdown at birth, cause he has NO liftoff. Even backup center Devin Searcy leads the team in FG%. It’s a big happy family.
The Departing: Charles Little. Think Corliss Williamson. Same size, less nasty. Not a vocal enough leader to emphasize or underscore the ‘urgency of now.’ Typically the advantage of seniors is leadership and their ability to prod the cattle. Little doesn’t do this for Dayton. He rebounds.
One win if they are the favorite. Zero if the underdog. They have a star that is still unrefined and really does not have the polish to win a game late. The loss of Lowery hurts because the guard pressure has been scaled back accordingly. The Flyers have a disturbing record, 13-13, away from home the last two years. If they can lure in some fans early, they could spend more than a night in their hotel.