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53 Reasons: George Washington game

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Dayton's Dyshawn Pierre blocks a shot by George Washington's Kethan Savage (11), but the ball goes right to Joe McDonald, far right, who hits the game-winning shot at the buzzer in overtime on Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, at the Smith Center in Washington. David Jablonski/Staff
Dayton's Dyshawn Pierre blocks a shot by George Washington's Kethan Savage (11), but the ball goes right to Joe McDonald, far right, who hits the game-winning shot at the buzzer in overtime on Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, at the Smith Center in Washington. David Jablonski/Staff

Dayton’s Dyshawn Pierre blocks a shot by George Washington’s Kethan Savage (11), but the ball goes right to Joe McDonald, far right, who hits the game-winning shot at the buzzer in overtime on Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, at the Smith Center in Washington. David Jablonski/Staff


 

The 2015-16 college basketball season is just around the corner. In honor of the Flyers winning 53 games the last two seasons (and because I couldn’t come up with 2,015 reasons), I’m counting down 53 reasons (in no particular order) to look forward to the season.

Follow the blog between now and the season opener against Southeast Missouri State on Nov. 13. I will have four to five updates per week.

I’ll post links on Twitter (@DavidPJablonski) and on my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/DavidPatrickJablonski.

NOTE TO READERS: I want to salute the fans at some point in this series. Here’s my idea: Email me a photo of your favorite piece of UD memorabilia (david.jablonski@coxinc.com). It could be a ticket stub, a T-shirt, a poster, a newspaper page, a photo of you at a game, etc. And write a paragraph or two or more about the story behind it: where you got it, what it means to you, why it’s special, etc. Also tell me how long you’ve been a fan, how and why you started rooting for the Flyers. I will include the story and the text in a blog entry. The best photo and entry wins an 8×10 print of Vee Sanford’s shot against OSU or Jordan Sibert’s shot against Boise. Your choice.

No. 24: George Washington game

Dayton’s most heartbreaking regular-season loss a season ago came in the nation’s capital. The La Salle and Duquesne losses were worse from an RPI standpoint, but Dayton just didn’t play well enough to win those games. They did play well enough to win at George Washington, but the worst bounce of the year cost them a victory.

Here’s what I wrote last February:

Dayton watched two opponents’ buzzer beaters bounce its way in the NCAA tournament last March. The Flyers had no such luck Friday night at the Smith Center in Foggy Bottom.

Dyshawn Pierre blocked a shot by George Washington’s Kethan Savage in the final seconds of overtime only to have the ball fly straight into the hands of Joe McDonald. His shot with less than a second to play handed Dayton a 65-64 defeat in the nation’s capital.

“Dyshawn made a great play on the ball,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said. “Usually when you get a blocked shot like that at the end of the clock, it leads to some type of loose ball.”

Dozens of students, some clad in togas and others wearing pajamas, flooded the court to mob McDonald and his teammates after the final shot as the Flyers dodged them with their heads down.

A valiant Dayton comeback in the second half and another in overtime, followed by the most clutch shot of the season — a 3-pointer by Kyle Davis with 16 seconds left that gave the Flyers a 64-63 lead — ended with another loss on the road.

“You don’t feel good at all when you lose any game, but when you lose the way we did tonight, it sort of sticks a stake in your heart,” Miller said. “Those are the tough ones to recover from. For us, we’ve got to move on. We’re on to Saint Louis. Whether we won this game, lost this game, lost by 20, it doesn’t really matter. The next day, the next approach is the only thing on my my mind right now.”

The Colonials play at UD this season on Jan. 15. It’s the Flyers’ fifth A-10 game of 18.

George Washington lost its second-leading scorer Kethan Savage, who transferred to Butler. But it returns its top scorer Patricio Garino (12.4) plus Kevin Larsen (10.9), McDonald (9.9) and Yuta Watanabe (7.4). It has two other transfers on the roster, Matt Hart from Hamilton College and Alex Mitola of Dartmouth, and two freshmen.

George Washington adds one of the top incoming transfers in the league in Tyler Cavanaugh. The 6-9 forward averaged 8.8 points as a sophomore at Wake Forest.

“I’m hoping Tyler is a double-digit scorer,” GW coach Mike Lonergan told GWHatchet.com. “I don’t know whether that’s 10 or 14. I mean he was averaging 8.8 a game in arguably the hardest conference in the country, so I think he’s now a year older, knows our system, so I think he can really take some pressure off Kevin [Larsen] because of his size. And he’ll draw a lot of attention because he can shoot threes and he can score inside. I think he’s going to be really good for us. I just don’t know what that means statistically.”

The Colonials are 46-22 the last two seasons. They made the NCAA tournament at 24-9 in 2014 but fell short last March at 22-13. The back-to-back 20-win seasons follow six seasons in which they won between nine and 17 games.

At least one writer, Ryan McFarland of MidMajorMadness.com, thinks GW could be the surprise team in the A-10.

With the success of VCU and Dayton over the past few years and Davidson winning the conference last year, the Colonials are flying under the radar and could make a lot of noise in conference. I really like Yuta Watanabe and think he could have a breakout year for them. Larsen is arguably the best center in the conference and Garino and Cavanaugh spread the floor to make them a very dangerous offensive team.


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