Like I said, I ain't even mad. It was an incredibly back and forth affair, and Wake even had a lead late, but ultimately, Dayton senior Paul Williams channeled his inner Greg Jennings, put the team on his back, and drained some late threes to help put away the Deacs. I expected a close game, and that's exactly what it was (I even got the margin of victory right! Too bad it was in the other direction).
There were points of frustration, but there was still some highly encouraging play from the Deacs, and against a team thoroughly stacked with juniors and seniors (and a lot more depth, I'm pretty sure), I have a hard time being too angry or discouraged by the loss. Read more specifics after the jump.
-Defensively, things weren't bad necessarily either overall. Dayton was 44.4% for the game, 32.1% from 3 on 28 attempts. Wake also had 4 blocks and 8 steals. Dayton had 18 turnovers, and I think more of them were forced than just the 8 direct steals.
-The problem, both offensively and defensively, was that the team couldn't go for the throat and really close out the game. Towards the end there were messy shots and defensive breakdowns that Dayton took advantage of. I'm of the opinion that, generally speaking, you can never pin such mistakes on one person; that's a fallacy. Having said that, the guard play of Dayton is what ultimately let them take the win from Wake, so it stands to reason that it was our perimeter defense that suffered in that critical time. Another problem is that Dayton just MURDERED us in terms of rebounding, but their front court is considerably deeper and more experienced, so I kind of expected that. Actually, overall I was encouraged by our defensive adjustments. In the first half and early in the second, Dayton was positively owning the paint, but the Deacs really adjusted well in that regard late.
Now for some individual notes:
-Travis McKie, as usual, killed it. 20 and 6, with 2 steals and 2 blocks. He was only 2-6 from 3, but come on, that statline and the hustle we know Travis brings every game? I can't hate. Travis, just for the record, was also extremely active on the defensive end.
-C.J. Harris also continued his very solid play. 18 points (with a perfect 6-6 from the line, yay C.J.), 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and a steal. Of course, C.J. also had 4 TO's, but you can just tell that overall, Travis and C.J. are doing what is expected of them in terms of being leaders on the floor.
-Tony Chennault had what I would call an interesting game. 17 and 6 with a steal, and there were times when he really took the game over and got to the bucket at will. Frustratingly, however, he had 4 of Wake's 5 misses at the line, and didn't have a single assist. Of course, the nature of the motion offense is that Wake moves the ball so damn much that direct assists are not necessarily a quality indicator of how effective the player was in helping the machine to run, but I'd still like to have seen some more dimes from TC at the end of the day, and man Tony, you gotta make those FT's, but you don't need me to tell you that, and he really did have a hell of a game in terms of setting the pace and getting to the bucket. There were times when he took some iffy shots, but truthfully, he was so good at times offensively that I don't necessarily blame him for trying to take over. And I also keep telling myself that he's basically a freshman for most intents and purposes.
-Our big men in general had a frustrating game. Nikita Mescheriakov had 7 points on 7 shots, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal. Carson Desrosiers had 2 points on 5 shots, 3 rebounds, an assist, a steal, and 2 blocks. Daniel Green got in foul trouble quickly and only registered 1 assist.
-Chase Fischer, oh Chase Fischer. This kid showed glimpses of being something special. 12 points on 4 shots (after making a bad play, he turned around and began, I'm coining the term right now, Childress-ing it up), 3 rebounds, an assist, and a steal, and as I recall, plenty of defensive energy. Seriously, Fischer has fire. I like the cut of his jib.
-Anthony Fields had another solid game. 0-1 shooting, but a rebound, 4 assists with no TO's, and a steal, plus, as usual, tons of defensive energy and speed. The similarities to Ish continue to ring true from where I sit (*rimshot*) and honestly, a PG rotation of Fields, Chennault, and CMM next year has serious potential for sickness (assuming nobody transfers, oh god).
It was a really good game. Wake went on some huge runs (7-0, 9-0, possibly others I'm forgetting), and as I said in the game thread, these runs last year were about as easy to come by as an interpretive dance routine from the Rollin' Ronin. Losses never feel good, and Dayton aren't exactly world beaters, but they're not terrible either, and they have tons of experience.
It was our first road game, and there were times that the Deacs easily could've given up and let it turn into a blowout, but they didn't do it. They hustled, fought, scrapped, and executed, and just a couple more bounces going our way and the Deacs would've won the game. This team is so different from last year, and I believe that Coach Bzdelik's coaching is beginning to show.
I'm not going to be so bold as to say conclusively that it was a good hire yet, but I certainly feel better about the coaches AND the players than I did last year. Let's get some wins in the Consolation bracket. Let's go boys. Bring home some good experience and some more notches in the W column. I know you can.
Go Deacs. Rollin' Ronin out. Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.