We're excited here at BSD to play in the Old Spice Classic for several reasons, including getting the chance to talk to some great bloggers that we normally wouldn't get the chance to talk to.
Don was polite enough to start up the e-mail exchange and throw some questions back and forth to each other.
They are a bit different than the bloggers on SBNation because they have a bit of an edge (and a tongue) to them. I love blogging because it allows you to meet all sorts of people, and it was great to stumble upon The Blackburn Review, which I encourage you all to take a look at!
Enjoy! Comments are always welcome!BSD: Dayton is coming off of 22-14 record last year, and an A-10 Championship game loss to Richmond away from making the Big Dance, but now Chris Wright is gone, Brian Gregory is gone, and it is a brand new year already, What are expectations like in Dayton for the team this year from your point-of-view?
TBR: The A10 (or as we like to call it here, the A14) Tournament run was definitely a shocker. I don't think many fans (realistic at least) thought that Dayton could beat UMass on the road, Xavier, and then St Joe's to get to play for the title. If the team played like that all year, they would have made the NCAA Tournament. Instead, they made the NIT and lost to College of Charleston.
Brian Gregory was on thin ice up here in Flyer land. A few years ago, UD foolishly signed him to a contract extension until 2018. They ended up winning the NIT with one of the more talented groups in UD history which shockingly excited the fans. The NIT is a freaking joke. There, I said it. With virtually everyone returning from that championship team AND four heralded recruits, this team couldn't make the NCAA Tournament again.
So when BG somehow got offered the Georgia Tech job (only because Richmond's Chris Mooney and VCU's Shaka Smart said, "No thanks"), Dayton fans were excited. However, BG has left the cupboard quite bare here in Flyer land. Not only did Chris Wright graduate, but the two best freshmen in that "heralded" class have transferred. Juwan Staten is now at West Virginia where he belonged from day 1. It stunned me that he ended up going to Dayton. Sure he grew up in Dayton, but he transferred to Oak Hill his senior year. I just had a feeling all along that he was not going to come to Dayton. I was half right, as he really was never fully invested in BG's philosophy.
Because of the lack of leadership, proven players, and new coaches across the board, it is unknown what to expect from the Flyers this year. I think they'll win the majority of the games they should, lose some they shouldn't, and pull a few out of their ass. 20 wins should be a guarantee in college, so I would imagine this year's team can match that. We'll see in the A14 as this league is dreadful except for Xavier and Temple. 8-8 is not too far out of the question.
BSD: Former N.C. State guard Archie Miller (the guy who wouldn't graduate) is the new head coach up there now. Talk to me a little bit about Archie and what he can do for y'all. Do you like him, or did you want a "bigger" name to head up the team after Gregory left for Georgia Tech?
TBR: The first thing Archie did was change the whole perception of the program. Our previous coach, Brian Gregory (you’ll be taking advantage of him over the next few years), played everything close to the chest and by the book. Archie came in, hired some scummy AAU-affiliated assistants and began recruiting players that are borderline illiterate – aka straight ballerz. This was exactly the type of shot in the arm the school needed. Miller has a bit of Tarkanian in his blood, which he should probably get checked out immediately.
Being a staunch mid-major program, there was no hope of landing a "big" name coach. The only possibility in that regard would have been hiring someone tarnished like Jim Harrick or someone with modest coaching experience like Chaz Bono.
The names that were bandied about during the selection process were Randy Bennett (St. Mary’s), Keith Dambrot (Akron) and Duke assistants Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski. Archie is about as good as UD could have hoped for, and I mean that in both a positive and negative way.
BSD: Since you asked me about the rivalries down on Tobacco Road, I think I will throw that question back at you in terms of the rivalries up there. I know a lot of our readers aren't necessarily familiar with basketball in Ohio, so take us on a journey and shape our minds.
TBR: There is not really much to talk about in terms of rivalries. According to Dayton, their main rival is and always will be Xavier. The only problem with that is that in order to call it a rivalry, it has to be equal on both sides. Xavier is light years ahead of Dayton in terms of talent and success that it's truly embarrassing, as both schools are almost identical. Xavier considers Cincinnati their main rival and always will. Dayton hasn't won at Xavier since 1981 so we have that going for us. In terms of Ohio in general, it's all about OSU. You either love them (I would say 80% of the state does) or you hate them and their fans with a passion. OSU is REALLY good this year which will only make their bat-shit crazy fans even more psycho. Other than that, you have 6 schools in Ohio that are in the MAC and they all seem to hate each other, but they really don't matter. And as much as it pains us here at the Blackburn Review, no one really cares about Dayton basketball outside of the city limits.
BSD: What is the Dayton perception of Wake Forest? Is there one? I'm always interested in what stigma is attached to the Deacs from our opponent.
TBR: ...I’d assume that UD fans respect Wake for both its accomplishments on the floor and as an academic institution. When Wake was announced as a first-round opponent in the Old Spice Classic, the general consensus was that this would be a tough opponent for the Flyers, even though the reality is that there probably isn’t that much separation between the two teams at this point. So it would appear that the recent success of the program, as well as notable players like Tim Duncan and Chris Paul, have elevated Wake’s brand to very favorable levels. At least to people on the outside looking in like Dayton fans.
BSD: What the hell is a "Flyer"? Is it somebody that flies an airplane? How is that accurately portrayed in mascot form?
TBR: You bite your tongue! Rudy Flyer is a saint! You hear me? A SAINT! As you can see from this picture (http://kccollegegameday.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/rudy_3372168.jpg), he is quite creepy and enjoys scaring the shit out of little kids. A Flyer is exactly what you said, someone who flies an airplane. Dayton was the home of the Wright Brothers and trust me when I say that their obsession with "we were first in flight" is quite bothersome. In fact, they HATE the entire State of North Carolina because they claim to be the first in flight. It's sad and comical. The city of Dayton really has nothing left ever since GM shut down and NCR bolted, so let's give it to them.
BSD: Now for some real(er???) questions....so far, it looks like a pretty balanced effort across the board from the team right now, especially from the seniors. Do you expect this to keep up, or is somebody flying under-the-radar that should begin to produce pretty well for y'all throughout the year? Paul Williams scares me with his 3-pt %, and don't even get me started on the guys that can rebound.
TBR: Don’t let Paul Williams scare you, he is as streaky as the wall of a peep show booth.Kevin Dillard, the starting point guard, is the key to the team’s success. If he can get it going early and often, UD will have an excellent chance of pulling this one out. If he gets it going late, or not at all, Dayton will be like a guy having sex with a 500 pound dick – no chance of pulling out. Chris Johnson is a hot-and-cold perimeter player, someone that can either shoot Dayton into a game or shoot them out of commission. Those three players really drive UD’s offense; the Flyers have no chance of beating Wake unless the trio performs well Thanksgiving night.
Dayton’s rebounding is actually down from last season, a point of emphasis for a team, like UD, that doesn’t consistently shoot the ball very well. The Flyers are giving up an absurd amount of offensive rebounds this season, something that Miller has addressed already this season. Wake has some decent size up front, so it’s certainly a facet of the game UD must focus on to limit second-chance points.
BSD: Talk about the offensive scheme that Miller has brought, as well as what we can expect defensively from y'all. How does this play into your strengths and weaknesses as a team?
TBR: The most significant change Miller has brought to UD is his offensive scheme. It is motion based, relying on quick, deliberate passes to free up good looks from the perimeter. Dayton’s frontcourt players have limited ability on the blocks, to offset this problem the Flyers usually run a "4 Out" set, allowing some of the bigs (meaning Luke Fabrizius and Alex Gavrilovic) the freedom to wander around the perimeter and jack shots from behind the arc.
Like I said, UD’s post offense (and defense) seems to be its Achilles heel this season, so this offensive strategy tries to hide that weakness. So far, it has been getting rave reviews from the players, who were used to a more structured offensive under Brian Gregory.
When I asked senior guard Josh Parker what he thought of Archie’s offense he said, “It’s the tits and the balls.” I think that’s good.
BSD: GIMME THE PREDICTIONS!!! You already saw my pick, so now that the correct answer is out, you should try to pick the 2nd best answer. You can even gimme some predictions for the A-to and whree y'all will fall there/with a record if you like. The more the merrier!!!
TBR: I am stealing this from one of the other writers of the website, Tom Blackburn: While on the one hand Wake is certainly not a stellar defensive team, allowing just over 71 points per game, they do have some solid athletes and plenty of size up front. Throw in the fact that this game is away from the Arena and things start to look a little dicey. The Deacons win this one on the glass, out-rebounding their way to a close victory, 66-61. Deal with it.
The A14, as mentioned above, is going to be fucking terrible this year. Xavier is hands down the best team in the league and Temple will be good. Don't be shocked if Saint Louis makes the NCAA Tournament. Outside of that, who cares? In our annual, and award winning, prognostication post (http://www.blackburnreview.com/main/2011/10/31/head-to-an-online-sportsbook.html), we picked the Flyers to finish 9th. So that's what we'll predict.