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Q & A with a Dayton blogger

George Mason Basketball: Q & A with a Dayton blogger

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Q & A with a Dayton blogger

For the last two years we have had Q & A sessions with the Dayton bloggers over at the site The Blackburn Review. This year is no different as the Patriots look to close out 2010 with another road victory over the A10.  Dayton is always a different type of animal for the Patriots to face with wildly athletic forwards Chris Wright and Chris Johnson causing match-up problems. I should mention that the Dayton Daily news says Johnson is questionable for tomorrow's game so keep an eye on that story.  However the Flyers have been inconsistent this year, to say the least.  They already had some embarrassing losses which include a home loss to East Tennessee State and a beat down from Cincinnati that ended up with no Dayton players finishing in double figures and the team collectively going 12-for-60 from the field, yikes. And let's not forget their two point victory over Savannah State  who don't currently have any Division I victories yet. But despite their inconsistent play they nearly escaped ODU with a victory not too long ago.  Mason can win this game if they force Dayton into one of their bad shooting nights but it won't be easy.  

Here is my exchange with The Blackburn Review:

This game is a highlight on Mason's schedule as their out of conference opponents have been less than exciting so far. They haven't really faced a team yet with weapons like Chris Wright and Chris Johnson. How much have these guys improved over the last year?

Blackburn Review: The words “player development” and “Brian Gregory” are rarely, if ever, used in the same sentence. You’d be hard-pressed to name a player that steadily improved over his four years at UD. Most players appear to hit a ceiling somewhere during their junior year and never improve.

As far as the Chrises go, Wright hasn’t progressed much as a basketball player since he stepped on campus as a freshman; he remains a superior athlete with questionable roundball aptitude (If he was smart he’d call up Antonio Gates and begin training for the NFL immediately. Wright would make a tasty target in the red-zone as a tight-end). Each summer we hear stories of Wright’s ever-developing offensive arsenal and each year he comes woefully short of the hype. Still, he is a tough interior player – someone capable of dropping a 20 and 10 if you go to sleep on him. You can usually tell what kind of game Wright will have within the first five minutes of a game. If he is scoring early, lock up the women and children. If he is quiet, he is likely to stay that way for the rest of the night.

Johnson has been up and down all season, which is a reversal from last season where he was the picture of consistency. Although it seems he has worked the kinks out lately, averaging around seventeen points a game over his last five games. CJ’s play is essential to UD’s success, as he does all of the little things that make the engine go. (Unfortunately, there is some doubt as to whether Chris Johnson will even play against Mason, as he has some groin issues. Apparently he woke up Monday morning with blisters all over his shaft, scrotum and testicles. Nasty business. The working theory is that CJ is a longshoreman in his spare time.)

In the teams past two meetings I was always impressed by how well Dayton's bench usually plays. The Flyers always seem to be a deep squad, is that true again this season?

Blackburn Review:  Not so much. Whereas in the past UD was able to throw ten to eleven bodies at its opponent, wearing them down over forty minutes, this year’s team seems to go a little less deep – usually around eight or nine guys log over ten minutes a game. Throw in the fact that UD brought in five newcomers this year, and the team has a completely different look to it. Guys are still trying to find their niche and the learning curve is substantial. Still, there are glimpses of promise and potential, and hopefully the bench won’t be as much of a detriment as the season develops.

Mason has been shooting the ball well from behind the arch often jumping out to early leads because of it on the road. How has Dayton faired in guarding the perimeter against strong three-point shooting teams?

Blackburn Review:  Perimeter defense is something the Flyers always seem to struggle with, and this year hasn’t been much different. Fortunately, UD hasn’t played a team that excels behind the line like George Mason does. So, I would have to think that this would be a major focus for the UD coaching staff. Again, I’m making an assumption. For all I know Brian Gregory and his staff will be up all night playing Call of Duty and texting chicks they used to bang in high-school. I’ve given up trying to figure out the coaching philosophy from game to game, it’s best to sit back and just let the carnage unfold.

Looks to me like this year's Dayton squad is up to their usual tricks. Not shooting the ball great but rebounding well and playing solid defense. Am I correct in highlighting the team's strengths or am I missing anything different about this year's team?

Blackburn Review:  I like the way you put that. It’s like one of those political attack ads you see for like state comptroller every two years. Zoom in tight on a black and white picture of a smirking Brian Gregory. Cue sinister voiceover --“It seems like Dayton is back to its old tricks again…setting college basketball back twenty years with their unsightly brand of basketball. This December, we can all send them a message, vote George Mason for progress.”

But yeah, different year, same shit. Throw the ball at the orange ring ten feet in the air and then go chase it down like a group of bloodthirsty dogs. Dayton is once again rebounding the basketball with the intensity of a rookie cop at an inner-city high-school football game, averaging just over forty boards a game (twenty-first in the nation as of this writing). Auspiciously for Mason, they seem to be a formidable force on the glass in their own right. If Chris Johnson can’t go, that’s going to be a major blow to Dayton’s rebounding effort, as he has a tendency to grab loose balls for putbacks.

What does Mason need to do well to win this game?

Blackburn Review:  Defensively, I would throw a mix of zones at UD all night long. I’ll never understand why teams just don’t sit in a basic 2-1-2 and watch UD bomb away aimlessly from the outside. It would also help negate UD’s rebounding prowess. As Jim Boheim says after a few drinks of prosecco, “not playing zone is just pride fucking with you.” I know Larranaga has been known to implement a 3-2 at times, and his scramble press is the stuff of legend. When Juwan Staten isn’t in the game, I would press UD with vigor and let the chips fall where they may.

Offensively, you have to go right at UD. This isn’t as solid an on-the-ball defensive team as in years past. I’d let Hancock and Pearson get aggressive with Wright and force him to play hard on both sides of the court. Wright has a tendency to let his athleticism bail him out of defensive mishaps, but can easily pick up fouls if pressed. GMU will get open perimeter looks against this team; they just have to knock down the shots that present themselves. Do that, and the Patriots will be tough to beat.



Blogger What Not said...

Very funny...good stuff.

7:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude this blogger of UD has no clue!

8:53 PM  

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