Posted by Tony Caridi on Monday, March 16, 2009
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I spent some time with a long-time observer of the Dayton basketball program this morning to get his thoughts about this year’s edition of the Flyers. This observer asked that his name not be mentioned because of his affiliation with the program so we’ll accept his request and keep him on deep background – our Woodward and Bernstein garage source.
Here’s his take on the Mountaineers’ NCAA opening round opponent:
“They’re a good team, but totally different when they don’t play at home. They’ve been that way since they joined the Atlantic 10. I don’t know if it’s in their heads, but they’re just a different team at home,” he said.
Dayton was 18-0 at home this season, 5-6 in road games, and 3-1 in neutral site games.
My Dayton hoop source tells me that leading scorer Chris Wright is an absolutely fantastic player. “The only reason he wasn’t a first team pick in the Atlantic 10 was because he was a sophomore. He won’t wow you physically, but athletically he’ll make you say ‘wow.’ No question he’s the guy that makes them go.”
Wright averages 12.9 points per game while shooting 48 percent from the field. He also leads the Flyers with 6.5 rebounds per game.
There are two Johnsons on the Dayton roster. Marcus Johnson is second in scoring, but freshman Chris Johnson (no relation) has really impressed our Dayton scout.
“He’s a kid who doesn’t play a huge amount of minutes but has a big impact.”
Chris Johnson averages 16 minutes per game but gives them seven points and six rebounds. It sounds like he’s Dayton’s version of WVU’s Kevin Jones.
Charles Little, a 6-7 senior from Cleveland, Tenn., is Dayton’s third leading scorer. My Flyers’ insider says Little is a very solid contributor who was forced to become a major contributor last season when Wright went down with a season-ending injury in their conference opener.
Now a year later with Wright healthy, Little has become a quality complimentary scorer who can take over when needed.
Like West Virginia, defense is Dayton’s calling card.
“They play really good defense and use a bunch of players. They’re not great offensively and struggle to score, but man they play defense,” says our scout.
The numbers show that Dayton is allowing just 62 points per game, while scoring a little more than 67. West Virginia averages 73 and allows 61. On paper we could be in for a low scoring affair in the 60s. However, the magic number for West Virginia is 70 points. The Mountaineers have won every game this season in which they’ve scored 70 or more points. Conversely, Dayton is 23-1 when they allow less than 70 points, and just 3-6 when they allow more than 70.
There’s your stat gem of the week. If the Mountaineers score 70 points they’ll be on their way to the second round. If not, then buckle-up for some late-game drama.
Finally, for those who like to take a deep-deep-deep look into the brackets, what does this mean?
The last time West Virginia played Dayton in a basketball game the Flyers were coached by Oliver Purnell. The last game John Beilein coached at West Virginia was against Oliver Purnell and Clemson. Michigan will play Clemson in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. If Michigan wins they’re expected to play Oklahoma in the second round. West Virginia played Oklahoma last season in Charleston. Try to tell me that the committee didn’t do that on purpose.
NCAA conspiracy theorists are no doubt all a twitter.