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Behind Enemy Lines: Dayton (with Q+A!)

Dayton comes in as the unquestioned 3rd best team in the A10.

Dayton comes in as the unquestioned 3rd …or 4th best team in the A10.

The Opponent:  The 11-2 Dayton Flyers, 1-0 in A10 after smashing Duquesne at home. The Flyers have won four in a row after a loss on 12/13 to Arkansas. Their only other loss was to UConn back on 11/21. Dayton is a credible top 50 team, and right now likely sits right on the NCAA bubble. Despite loosing some serious size inside they sport a guard-oriented offense that is tough to defend.

The Rundown: The Bonnies get a chance to start A10 play 2-0 if they can sneak by one of the league’s best teams at home without their students borderline playing defense for them on the sidelines. The Bonnies flexed all kinds of muscles in their win over UMass and Dayton did the same in smashing Duquesne at home. This would would easily be the Bonnies best win of the season and going into the match-up their are some real reasons for optimism. Still, Dayton is a quality, battle tested team with experience and talented guards who have led them to 11 wins in 13 tries thus far. If SBU is to win this game they’ll have to contain UD’s guards and really defend the three point line. Since loosing their forwards and going small, Dayton has been attempting in the mid 20s in terms of three pointers. A UMass-like defensive effort on that front could lead the Bonnies to a huge home win over a bubble team. I worry like heck about Dayton’s shooters in the friendly shooting backdrops of the RC.

Notable Alumni/Random Facts: Four time SB Champ HC Chuck Noll, ESPN’s Dan Patrick, the inventor of the CLT-ALT-DEL keyboard command, and apparently the guy who cracked the Nazi machine Enigma but that seems weird since I just saw that movie…maybe he was in the background?

Quick Fact: Went to the Elite 8 Last year. Has lost three players in the last month including two forwards. Dayton’s tallest remaining player is 6-6 Kendal Pollard. Anthony Solomon was UD’s assistant coach after being fired by SBU. Dayton is a Roman Catholic University. Dayton picked up a three point win in Olean last year during Alumni weekend….Bonas led for most of that game…I think.

Their best player(s): You could pick between Jordan Sibert (Ohio St. transfer) and Dyshawn Pierre (Whom Bonas recruited hard) as Dayton’s motors. The guards average 15.7 and 12.2 points, but Pierre is shooting 48% from the field compared to Sibert’s 41%…Sibert is a 33% 3PT shooter and Pierre is shooting 26%. Dayton now plays small after loosing two of their forwards last month due to university violations (they stole stuff out of students’ dorm rooms) and as such, their guards enjoy the benefit of hoisting a ton of three pointers. Sibert and Pierre have the green light whenever they want, and you can add Schoochie Smith (40% 3PT) and Kyle Davis (only 22% 3PT) to that group. Sibert is a much, much better FT shooter than Pierre (important for the end of the game). If SBU is going to win contain these two guards from three point land is THE Key. I think it will be incredibly hard for Dayton to win should these two shoot  in the 20%s-30%s from three. Funny thing about Dayton loosing all of their size inside is that it may ultimately make them a tougher team to guard.

Their glaring weaknesses: They’ve got no height inside with Pollard being their biggest body at 6-6. Ndoye and Wright, and even Dees should be able to get whatever they want inside in terms of position. This is a game where Youssou could single-handedly win it for SBU himself…but you know as we say that he could finish with 8-7 and 2 blocks. Doesn’t change the fact that he SHOULD own Dayton inside given enough touches. They dress six scholarship players, so they are very thin.

Their strength: Guard play. In the course of loosing a few big men this season Dayton has been forced to go small. Much like La Salle a few seasons ago, Dayton may turn into a four guard team that is really tough to guard. They also get to the foul line a ton and play really good team defense thanks to their quickness. This is still a really good team despite their losses.

Their bad stats: 306th in the country in offense rebounding, 302nd in the country in blocks per game.

Their good stats: 4th in the country in getting to the the foul line (almost 54% of possessions) 44th in the country in shooting the 2Pt shot (44%) and 50th in the nation in defending the three point shot (29.7%). They have a top 40 defensive rating on KenPom.

How Dayton can win: For Dayton to win this game they’re going to have to make outside shots and hold Dion Wright and Ndoye in check. With a potential four guard lineup and a few small bigs that will be quicker than our forwards, Dayton will have a huge advantage in quickness. I could see Bonaventure struggling to get to spots on the floor to defend and may have to go small from time to time (think of a lineup of Adams-Posley-Adams-Gregg and Wright?). Dayton showed an exceptional guard effort against Duquesne this weekend; if they show that again tomorrow it will be an issue. While Bonaventure fans will cite a size advantage as a reason they can win, Dayton fans will cite their guard play and quickness as their path to victory.

How the Bonnies can win: Like the UMass game this past weekend, SBU will have to defend the three point line first and foremost. Second, they’ll have to establish Ndoye and Dion inside against Pollard (as well as defend him on the other end). If SBU can get Pollard to foul early they’ll be at a massive advantage against Dayton’s next set of big men who are true walk ons. With the students away on break I am concerned about the energy level in the building (see UMES game) and so the team cannot rely on the fans to get them going. They’re going to have to bring that from the tip themselves….if this game were being played in two weeks I’d feel much better about SBU’s chances of victory.

Three keys to victory:X-Factor: 

1. Defend the three point line (Hold Dayton to 31% from 3PT)- keep UD’s guards in front of us…match their speed.

2. Feed the forwards all game long against Pollard. Go inside off the bounce when possible, get him into foul trouble early.

3. Limit UD’s free throw attempts. 4th in the nation in getting to the line- could really cost SBU in a tight game.


1.      Dayton has relied in a big way on 3pt shooting after losing their two bigs a few weeks ago. They’ve had success with this. Do you expect the success to continue, or will their lack of interior presence eventually do them in and fire bomb the season? Eventually they will hit the skids from the outside, it’s a certainty. The key will be the opposition. UD can possibly afford to struggle from the perimeter against the cellar-dwellers of the league, but certainly not against teams like GW and VCU (I was trying to think of decent A10 teams and these were the only two I could think of).

2.      The goal of this season in November had to be NCAA or bust. Is that still the goal?That’s definitely still the goal, even with the current circumstances. If Dayton can sweep the next three (at Bonas, at Fordham and La Salle at home), their record would be 14-2, 4-0 in league play. That puts them on solid footing for a NCAA bid. The Flyers schedule lacks punch, but it absolutely will be tournament worthy if they can rack up 22 wins going into Selection Sunday.

3.      Other than coming to Olean in January, what worries you about this game? I’d think SBU’s size would be the obvious answer. UD, as you know, lost its two biggest players and doesn’t have a kid over 6’6” on the roster. So, as with all games the rest of the way, rebounding is a major concern.

4.      What has to go right in this game for Dayton to leave Olean 2-0 in the A10?Regardless of the opponent, UD has to do the following three to win a game from here on out: (1) shoot at least 40% from three (2) stay out of foul trouble (3) score over 70 points. I think this will more or less be the formula for UD victories going forward.

5.      How has Dayton defended so freaking well despite a lack of size? I don’t necessarily think UD has defended all that well. Boston U and Georgia Tech aren’t teams that jump off the page offensively and the Flyers didn’t really shut down Ole Miss as much as they simply outscored them (the same could be said about the game against Duquesne). Dayton isn’t playing high-level defense as much as they are evolving into a very efficient offensive unit.

6.      Your attitude towards Bonnies fans? For the most part, pretty respectable. It seems that Olean is one of the tougher places to play in the league, primarily due to the fact that the SBU students are basically allowed to stand on the court and play defense during the games. It’s one of the toughest venues to play in the conference and the fans are at the core of that.

7.      Your all-time favorite Bonnie to mock/cheer for? I can’t think of any Bonnies I enjoyed mocking off the top of my head, which is rare as I really enjoy ridicule. My favorite players were JR Bremer, Mike Gansey and Andrew Nicholson. Bremer was a fantastic offensive player who always seemed to kill Dayton. Gansey was a sneaky athletic kid who could do a bit of everything (and is unfortunately more renowned for his career at West Virginia); he’s the type of white player every program dreams about. Andrew Nicholson wore clown shoes and that amused me more than it should have.

8.      Have you ever been to Olean. If not, what would it take for you to go? A first-class round-trip ticket to Buffalo, I’m picked up at the airport by a hovering stretch Aston Martin where I am driven to Olean. And even then, I’d have to really think about it.

9.      Your prediction for the game. St. Bonaventure is a tough place to play, and the Bonnies are coming off a pretty solid win over UMass. Ndoye could put up a 20-20 and I wouldn’t be surprised. I think UD loses a close one, 70-67.

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A member of the class of 2008, Nolan spent four years as a student assistant with the program. He has written professionally for such outlets as espn.com/insider, Athlon Sports Magazines, Cox Sports Online and Blue Ribbon Previews. Ian was named one of the “140 Personalities to Follow in College Basketball” on twitter by The Sporting News.


  1. Santiago C.

    Cant blame the guy for not wanting to go to Olean

    • Ian Nolan Post author

      Ha, agreed. Listen we love Bonas…if we didn’t I wouldn’t spend hours a week doing this blog for nothing. But if you can’t understand how a trip to Olean in January sucks you aren’t being honest with yourself. Even when I go up once a year for a game I wonder how I made it through four years of the cold and dark weather. Thanks for replying!

  2. Cope

    Someone posted on the Wagon about a lineup of Alston with posey and Adams #10 on the 3pt wings and a N and another : Wright/Gregg in the post.

    Some creative matching up could work to our advantage!


    • Ian Nolan Post author


      I agree tomorrow night may call for a smaller and more agile lineup against their guard oriented team. It’s too bad Schmidt refuses to use Jalen Adams…tomorrow would have been a good night for him to get into…we’ll see.