Ok, Pirate fans- the schedule gets a whole lot tougher now. The Dayton Flyers come to town on Wednesday, a program with a storied history and a darn good team, one that will compete at the top of the A-10 this year. Last year, they suffered from the same problem as the Pirates; they lost some VERY close games to teams they should have beaten. Nevertheless, they advanced to the NIT and won the whole thing, knocking off Illinois State, Cincinnati (in what was, in my opinion, the most physical game of the year), Illinois, Ole Miss, and North Carolina to take the title.
Here is the preview:
2010-11 record: 9-3
2009-10 record: 25-12 (NIT Champions)
Key losses: Marcus Johnson, Kurt Huelsman, Rob Lowery, London Warren
Key returnees: Chris Wright, Chris Johnson, Juwan Staten (freshman), Josh Parker (transfer), Brandon Spearman (freshman), Josh Benson, Paul Williams, Devin Searcy
As you can see, Dayton has a lot of weapons at their disposal. None of those weapons is bigger than leading scorer and NBA prospect Chris Wright. Listed at 6'8" and 226 pounds, Wright is a forward who is not only athletic, but versatile. He averages 13.6 PTS/8.5 REB on nearly 49% shooting from the field. He does not shoot a good percentage from deep, but can make the occasional one from there as well. The Seton Hall defense must focus on defending him and not letting him have his way down low in order to have a good shot in this game. The return of Herb Pope from a sore foot should help in this regard, however, the announcement of Ferrakohn Hall's decision to transfer will make their front-court depth that much thinner.
Another tall order for the Pirates will be defending 6'6" guard Chris Johnson. He has struggled with his shot this year, shooting just under 40% from the field, but is hitting 35% from deep while making 29-33 (88%) from the free throw line. Look for Fuquan Edwin, who has been playing exceptionally well, to check Johnson when both are in the game. Edwin was named Big East Rookie of the Week for his play against Longwood and NJIT, so we'll see if he can continue it against much better competition.
Rounding out the Dayton "Big 3" is point guard Juwan Staten. One of ESPN's Top 100 recruits in this past year's class, Staten has taken over the starting role right away. The Dayton native is averaging 8.4 PTS/7AST as the Flyers' primary playmaker. He is first in the nation in assist rate (according to Ken Pomeroy) at a shocking 51.9, meaning he gets an assist on almost 52% of the possessions that he is on the court. This kid looks to make plays and find his teammates for baskets. One area in which he struggles is shooting the ball, including from deep and the free throw line, so his defenders (Jordan Theodore and Keon Lawrence) would do good to try and play off of him and force him to shoot.
The Flyers on the whole have had trouble making buckets this year, shooting just over 40% as a team from the field, but they are holding opponents to a similar percentage. They are out-rebounding their opponents by an average of about 7 REB, so the Pirates must be focused on defense and on the boards. This has the potential to turn into a defensive battle, as both teams are playing good defense this year.
Of Dayton's three losses, one was on the road at Old Dominion (no shame in that), one was to Cincinnati by 34 on a neutral site (anomaly) and one was a bad loss to East Tennessee State at home. They like to shoot from beyond the arc, having attempted 248 deep balls this year, with Johnson and Josh Parker having attempted over 60 each.
PIRATES WILL WIN IF:
- They can out-muscle Wright and the Flyers on the boards.
- They continue their defensive energy and force Dayton into bad shots.
- Fuquan Edwin can hold Chris Johnson down.
FLYERS WILL WIN IF:
- They can get out in transition for easy baskets.
- Wright's versatility gets the Pirates bigs into foul trouble.
- Juwan Staten continues to make plays at such a high rate.
This is when the real season begins for Seton Hall, as they have Dayton and Richmond before opening up Big East play. The Pirates need at least one of these next two games to remain in the conversation, and a win Wednesday night would be a big confidence booster.
- I recently was interviewed by Don Donoher, a blogger who writes about the Flyers at his blog called The Blackburn Review. For the full interview, click here.
- I will be on sideline for the Dayton game on 89.5 FM WSOU, meaning that at halftime and post-game on Hall Line, you can hear me provide analysis and hear what Coach Willard says in his post-game press conference. Tune on in to 89.5 FM WSOU or wsou.net for all the action!