Dayton sophomore guard Scoochie Smith ran into an old high school friend on his walk with the Flyers to practice Thursday in Brooklyn. It’s a small world but a big city, so this was a chance meeting even for the Bronx native playing close to home.
Pollard and Sibert after the victory. David Jablonski/Staff
We’re 31 game recaps into my favorite season. Basketball has just the right number of games. Baseball has too many. Football too few.
My year bounces from one to the next. I’ve barely spent a second thinking about Joey Votto and the Reds, and they’ll be dominating by days in a few weeks. It’s up to the Flyers to keep this March drama rolling, and as they showed Friday in a 75-71 victory against St. Bonaventure (photos here), they still have some magic left in the tank.
It’s a dreary, wet day in Brooklyn this morning. A perfect day to stay inside and watch basketball. So that’s what I’ll do: Davidson vs. VCU at 1:30 and Dayton vs. Rhode Island at 4. Let’s see if Saturday’s semifinals live up to the excitement of Friday’s quarterfinals when the first three games all went to the final minute and two were decided by makes and misses in the final seconds.
Here are five things to take from Dayton’s 24th win (highlights here):
Archie in the huddle in the second half. David Jablonski/Staff
1. The Flyers dodged an upset (and beer).
Dayton coach Archie Miller left the court at halftime pointing into the stands and asking for security. A fan did something to anger the coach, and it happened again after the game as the Flyers headed to the locker room.
I worked this incident into my game story:
Describing it as madness understates the matter. Basketball in March — especially at the Atlantic 10 tournament, where the first three games Friday were decided in the final minute — is mad, crazy, loony and every other adjective in the thesaurus.
2. Kendall Pollard carried the Flyers.
We’ve seen Pollard do Pollard things all season, but not quite like this. This went above and beyond the best of Pollard’s efforts to date. He had a career-high 26 points. He blocked a 7-footer’s shot. He had a SportsCenter Top 10 type dunk. He stole the ball from Bona when the Bonnies needed a basket to tie the game in the final seconds.
My friend Jon Greenberg, of ESPN Chicago, is writing about the Chicago native Pollard (and Kyle Davis, too) next week. It will be a timely piece after this performance.
Tom Archdeacon, who’s here in Brooklyn with myself and WHIO’s Mike Hartsock, covered the Pollard angle last night.
Atlas, the god of Greek mythology who carried the celestial globe on his back, comes off as something of a lightweight when compared to Kendall Pollard in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament Friday night against St. Bonaventure.
3. This tournament is special for Allen Griffin.
Archdeacon talked to the UD assistant yesterday afternoon about returning home to Brooklyn for this tournament. Griffin grew up 10 minutes away from the Barclays Center in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. Griffin even recommended Junior’s, the old-school restaurant Archdeacon, Hartsock and I ate at late last night after a long day at the arena.
Here’s an excerpt from Arch’s piece:
“I watched the whole Barclays development go up and now — especially being a Brooklyn kid — I’ve got tremendous pride,” Griffin said. “For all of Brooklyn, it’s brought a different feeling, an excitement, a buzz to people here. It’s our arena and when I go out there it gives me goose bumps.”
Griffin, who has been with Archie Miller all four years at UD, still relishes coming back home and it showed Friday as he sat by the window of a Brooklyn coffee shop before the game and watched the busy street scene in front of him.
“This is electric,” he said softly. “Some people who never grew up here, they don’t understand it, but if you’re from here, there is an adrenaline rush as soon as you set foot back in New York City. It doesn’t matter what borough, you get that feeling the same. It’s all the city. There’s no other place like it in the world and, for me, no place like Brooklyn.”
Scoochie Smith after the victory. David Jablonski/Staff
4. Scoochie had a solid, all-around game.
Speaking of New York natives, I’m sure Dayton’s point guard Smith wants to play well here. He sure did Friday.
An excerpt from my third story last night: