Observations: Flyers lose twice but leave positive impression

By HAL McCOY

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, more filled with college basketball than turkey and dressing.

—If ever a college basketball team gained respect while going 1-and-2 in a three-day span, it was the University of Dayton Flyers during the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.

After upsetting Butler in the first round, the Flyers faced some real big boys and UD put on its big boy pants, narrowly losing to No. 4 ranked Virginia and to a talented Oklahoma.

Dan Dakich, one of the best basketball analysts, was deeply impressed by the Flyers.

During UD’s loss to Virginia in a game it led most of the way, Dakich said, “That’s the best offense I’ve seen this year. The most difficult to defend with all their cuts to the basket. This is a tough, tough basketball team that doesn’t back down to anybody. They are going to have a great year.”

Then during Friday’s consolation game, a 65-54 loss to Oklahome, he said late in the game when the Flyers were falling behind, “I really like this Dayton team. They are going to be a tough out in the Atlantic 10.”

The Flyers fell behind, 9-0, to open the Oklahoma game and when they were down 14 midway through the first half it looked as if the Flyers were sinking to the bottom of the blue-green ocean off The Bahamas beach.

But UD coach Anthony Grant put his team into a 1-3-1 zone and as Dakich said, “Oklahoma is completely flummoxed by Dayton’s defense.”

At the time Dayton trailed 26-12. Two players, Jamuni McNeace (12) and Christian James (10) had 22 of Oklahoma’s 26. The zone defense turned off their spigots.

The Flyers went on a 9-3 run and by halftime they pulled with six at 34-28.

Then they started the second half on a 13-0 burst and a 41-34 lead. At this point Oklahoma began playing a non-switching stick-with-your-man defense and it was the Flyers who were flummoxed.

They hit a spell where they made
one of 14 shots and the Sooners (5-1) took a 47-45 lead and steadily pulled away.

UD’s one Achilles heel is at the foul line. From the time they trailed, 47-45, the Flyers made one of their last six free throws. Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s Miles Reynolds made six straight in the final 75 seconds. For the game he made 12 of 13.

The Flyers did silence McNeace in the second half — only four points — but James finished with 21, hitting two big baskets in the final minutes.

Jalen Crutcher led the Flyers with 14 points but needed 17 shots to hit six. Oklahoma neutralized UD’s leading scorer, Josh Cunningham. He had only five points and was 2 for 7.

The Flyers shot just 32 per cent from the floor, 6 of 24 from the three-point line. Despite that, they were in the game until the very end.

The Flyers return home next Friday with a chance to make another statement when they host No. 15 Mississippi State. Then after a home game the following Tuesday against Detroit, they travel to Auburn to face the No. 8 Tigers. It won’t be easy but if the Flyers play with the same physicality and tenacity they displayed in Nassau they can make an even more emphatic statement.

—QUOTE: From formNFL quarterback Joe Theismann: “Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.” (Who knew that Albert Einstein had a genius brother?)

—In 1986, University of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, The Mouth of the North, was U-M’s quarterback and he guaranteed a win over Ohio State. Then he backed it up with a win that sent the Wolverines to the Rose Bowl.

Now, Michigan running back and senior co-captain Karan Higdon is following in his coach’s lip prints. Asked if he would guarantee a win over Ohio State Saturday he nibbled the bait.

“Yeah, I do. I do,” he said. “That’s how I feel. I believe firmly in my brothers, this team and this coaching staff. As a captain, I’ll take that stand. Why not?”

How does that song go, “I’ll take my stand in Dixie?” How’d that work out for the Confederates?

—QUOTE: From controversial baseball team owner Bill “As in Wreck” Veeck: “Baseball is the only orderly thing in a very unorderly world. If you get three strikes even the best lawyer can’t get you off.”

—Babbling basketball broadcaster Bill Walton is impossible to endure because he rattles on about everything but the game in front of him. But he did come up with this gem during a recent broadcast.

“The fastest guy I ever played with in the pros was Johnny Davis of Dayton University. The man could fly.” The Flyers thank you, Bill, but as you always say, “Please.” It is the University Dayton, Bill, not Dayton University. It’s like you played at UCLA, not LAUC.

—QUOTE: From former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco: “I’m traveling to all 51 states to see who can stop 85.” (That 51st state for Ochocino is the state of confusion.)

—Wonder if Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield will wake up feeling dangerous Sunday morning before taking on the Cincinnati Bengals.

That’s what he said before leading the Browns past Atlanta two weeks ago. He said he woke up that Sunday morning, “Feeling dangerous.”

And, of course, fans can now purchase t-shirtrs that say, “I Feel Dangerous.” Bengals fans can buy Andy Dalton t-shirts, too, but I think they say, “I Feel Meek and Mild.” OK, that’s a cheap shot, but I did see a neighbor, a devoted Bengals fan, build a fire in his back yard and toss something orange and black into the flames.

—QUOTE: From former Bengals coach Sam Wyche on the public address system in 1989 when fans bombarded the field with bottles and trash that caused the Seattle Seahawks to leave the field and refuse to play: “You don’t live in Cleveland, you live in Cincinnati.” (Hey, Sam, some lived in Dayton, some lived in Louisville, some lived in Red Lion and some lived in Blue Ball.)

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