Jordan Sibert celebrates a basket Saturday. David Jablonski/Staff
As I told famed UD basketball blogger Blackburn Review on Twitter the other day, “I used to root for the horse punchers. Hang in there, UD fans. It gets better.”
If you’re younger than 30 or not from southwest Ohio, you might not get that reference. But just google “Art Long” and “horse” and you’ll get the picture.
What happened to UD last week happens to almost every program, at least every program I’ve ever known well. That doesn’t excuse it. That doesn’t mean fans shouldn’t be angry, frustrated and disappointed. But it does put the news in perspective. The first crime story I ever wrote was about three Ohio U. basketball players beating up a cross country runner.
Archie Miller said last week he’s dealt with these issues before but nothing quite like this. Players getting kicked off the team in the middle of the season for, according to a source, allegedly breaking into dorm rooms, that’s certainly worse than punching a horse. According to WHIO’s John Bedell, UD police are still investigating the dorm thefts and will hand the case to the Montgomery Country prosecutor’s office for a review of charges.
Meanwhile, the show goes on at UD Arena. Considering all that happened last week with the dismissals of Devon Scott and Jalen Robinson, I was impressed by Dayton’s performance Saturday in a 78-62 victory over Boston University (photos here). Yes, they beat a bad team, a 3-7 team from the Patriot League, but it’s a start.
Here are five things we learned:
1. Opportunities arise for everyone on roster.
Dayton has never been about individual numbers under Miller, but everyone’s numbers will increase with only eight players available (nine if or when Detwon Rogers returns).
Here’s the lede of my game story:
Every one of the Dayton Flyers who stepped up their level of play Saturday in a 78-62 victory over Boston University will get the same chance in the 20 games remaining regular-season games.
As coach Archie Miller said after the game, referring in particular to freshman guard Darrell Davis, who scored a career-high 19 points, “There is no one else.”
The situation isn’t quite as dire as the old science fiction movie, “The Last Man on Earth,” but the Flyers are an injury or two away from letting Rudy Flyer throw some elbows in the paint. The Flyers can’t trade for depth or sign someone off the street to a 10-day contract. There is size on the football team, but Miller isn’t that desperate. For now, eight is enough for Dayton.
When Devon Scott and Jalen Robinson were dismissed from the team Wednesday, an already thin Dayton bench took a hit. As expected, Kendall Pollard moved into the starting lineup, and he made it count, setting career highs in points (19) and minutes (36). Pollard couldn’t stay in the game earlier this season because of foul trouble, and now he barely leaves the game.
Walk-on Bobby Wehrli came off the bench to play a career-high 21 minutes. Ryan Bass scored a season-high eight points and played a season-high 21 minutes.
Considering the circumstances, this will go down as one of Dayton’s most impressive performances of the season. A crazy week ended with the Flyers making 11-of-23 3-pointers (48 percent) and 26-of-50 shots from the field (52 percent). It’s the most 3-pointers they’ve made in a game all season. They made as many 3s as they had in the previous three games combined.
2. Darrell Davis can shoot.
The freshman guard from Detroit showed the scoring potential he hadn’t shown since the season opener. He led the Flyers with 17 points in his first game against Alabama A&M. He tied Pollard with 19 points last night and most impressively hit all five of his 3-point attempts.
Davis said he took extra shots in practice before the game and completed the Stephen Curry drill in which you can’t miss more than two shots in a row.
Davis scored a total of 19 points in the eight games between the first game and the 10th game. So he’s scored 36 of his 51 points in two games.
“It felt really good,” Davis said. “Unfortunately with two teammates not playing, it impacted the game, but we’re a tough team. We go out and play hard.”
3. Pollard is getting more dependable as the season progresses.
I was just as impressed that the sophomore forward played 36 minutes last night as I was that he scored a career-high 19 points. He couldn’t stay on the floor because of foul trouble early in the season. Now you can’t get him off it. He committed four fouls last night, but they were spaced out enough that he stayed in the game.
Remember that poll on this blog about the most improved player on the team? With Scott gone, Pollard is the only option now, and he’s an easy choice.
Tom Archdeacon wrote about Pollard in today’s paper:
Making his first start after coming off the bench the first 45 games of his UD career, the 6-foot-6 sophomore and now almost sole inside presence for the Flyers, finished with a career-high 19 points, eight rebounds and a blocked shot and an assist in 36 minutes of play.
That’s the most time he’s ever been on the court for the Flyers and he admitted afterward he was cramping out there.
“I’ve been eating too much sugar,” he said a bit sheepishly. “I drank a lot of juice.”
He also gave the Flyers some real juice against the Terriers.
“I love Kendall,” Miller said. “That’s why I recruited him. We depend on him and right now he has a golden opportunity to change the whole flight of his career. He’s gonna be out there 35 minutes a game. He’s a guy who can really, really drive the ball and we’ve got to find a way to use him more.
“If he can rebound the ball for us – and I don’t know (how often) he can get eight or nine for us – he’ll be a guy who can have a real good season.
4. Dyshawn Pierre continues to struggle.
Pierre had a couple of late baskets and finished with seven points and nine rebounds, but he was 2-of-6 from the field. He was Dayton’s most dependable scorer through the first four games, averaging 14.8 points. He has since scored 4, 7, 15, 8, 6 and 7 and points.
Until Pierre hit a 3-pointer in the second half last night, he had missed 12 3-pointers in a row. He’s made 4-of-22 this season.
“Offensively, we’ve got to get Dyshawn going, no question,” Miller said. “He’s stuck in the mud right now. I’m hoping the Christmas break will freshen him up a little bit.”5. In big picture, Flyers looking good, but we’ll know more about this team after next two games.
The Flyers host Georgia Tech at 8 p.m. Tuesday and Mississippi in their final non-conference game at 8 p.m. Dec. 30.
The Yellow Jackets (8-2) beat Vanderbilt 65-60 on Saturday. Their only losses are to Marquette and South Carolina Upstate. They’ve played one other Atlantic 10 team, beating Rhode Island 64-61.
Ole Miss (7-3) beat Coastal Carolina 71-68 Thursday in its most recent game. It plays Southeast Missouri on Monday in its last game before playing Dayton.