Game No. 14 recap: Dayton 78, St. Bonaventure 61

Bobby Wehrli now has almost as many nicknames as teammates: Bobby Basketball, Wehrli Bird, B-Dub, BW3, Bobby Wehrld. Take your pick. Those were a few flying around Twitter last night as Wehrli and the Flyers routed St. Bonaventure 78-61 in Olean, N.Y., on Thursday.

The Flyers won their fifth straight game since the walk-on Wehrli entered the rotation. People joked about the Wehrli Era beginning when Dayton kicked their two 6-9 big men off the team, but it’s not a joke now. Wehrli can play. He’s contributing like a scholarship player.

Wehrli’s nine-point performance was only one highlight from another banner night for UD. The Flyer Train keeps rolling. Next stop: Fordham.

Here are five things to take from the game:

1. The Flyers can make shots on the road, too.

Dayton shot 58 percent from 3-point range (14-of-24). In the past five games, they’ve made 53-of-111 (47.7 percent). The first four games in that stretch were at UD Arena. In the first nine games, they made 42-of-155 (27.1) percent.

This is a quote from Archie Miller in December:

“Right now, it’s the worst shooting team I’ve ever coached,” Miller said. “It’s the worst shooting team I’ve ever been around. And it’s not a bad shooting team. We can only go up from here.”

This is a quote from Miller last night. Ball movement has turned the offense around.

“Moving the ball and moving yourself is probably the whole key to this team,” Miller said. “We cannot stand and we cannot be one of those teams that is easy to guard. As the ball is moving and sharing we’re seeing some success. I think it has become a little bit contagious.”

2. Darrell Davis can shoot, but you knew that.

Davis made 3-of-3 3-pointers on Thursday. He has made 14-of-16 in the last five games. It’s hard to do that in a empty gym with no one guarding you.

Davis now leads the A-10 in 3-point percentage (57.1), and he would be leading the nation, but to qualify, you have to make 2.5 3-pointers per game. He’s 20-of-35 on the season, so he’s 15 made 3-pointers short.

3. Wehrli can shoot, too.

A freelancer, Vinny Pezzimenti, covered the game for us because I’m in Dallas covering the Buckeyes (back on the UD beat for the La Salle game next Wednesday) and wrote about Wehrli in his notes:

Wehrli, a junior, entered with nine points for his career and one 3-pointer in six attempts. He scored all his points against the Bonnies on 3-pointers, missing only once from the perimeter.

“You kind of get caught in the moment,” Wehrli said. “The first one falls and from there things start feeling better for you. I think it was just a matter of time for the confidence to come to me. I knew the shots would start falling.”

Thanks to his solid shooting and admirable defense on 7-footer Youssou Ndoye, Wehrli earned a career-high 23 minutes.

“Bobby has been thrown into the fire,” UD coach Archie Miller said before adding: “The one thing that Bobby can do is shoot the ball. He hasn’t had that opportunity. Now he knows, as we’re working with him in practice, that he should be able to take that shot because he’s a good shooter. If he takes the shots that he did tonight, he’ll have a good chance of making them.”

4. Flyers defending taller teams well.

St. Bonaventure’s big man, 7-footer Youssou Ndoye,didn’t hit a field goal until the final four minutes. Yahoo Sports wrote about Dayton’s lack of size and how they’re dealing with that problem last week.

Hours after dismissing the only two scholarship big men on his roster last month because they were caught stealing items from on-campus dorms, Dayton coach Archie Miller called a team meeting to address the rest of his players.

 Miller acknowledged doubters would probably discount the Flyers since they no longer had a single player taller than 6-foot-6. Then he urged his team to prove the skeptics wrong and show that size isn’t everything. 

“A lot of people wanted to bury us right away or to predict a significant drop-off,” Miller said. “I challenged each individual player in that team meeting to understand very clearly what the expectation is here and to do what they needed to do to make up for what we lost.”

5. Fordham is not good, but not a gimme.

The Flyers have climbed to 13th in the RPI. Fordham (5-8) ranks 220th. On the surface, Saturday’s game appears to be an easy win. The Flyers won at Rose Hill Gym last season.

But this will be Dayton’s second game in three days. That could test the stamina of their seven-man rotation.


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