No. 11 Dayton’s program in a good spot heading into next season


The run came to an end on Saturday night, as No. 11 Dayton ran into top-seeded Florida, who knocked off the Flyers 62-52 while advancing to their first Final Four since 2007.

Dayton never really threatened the Gators, but they kept the score close enough that gamblers had their evening made — or ruined — by a meaningless jumper from Dyshawn Pierre with 19 seconds left. Given how well Florida is playing these days, there are worse things that can be said about the Flyers, especially when you consider the fact that this loss took place in the Elite 8.

That’s not the way that the Flyers wanted to bow out of this tournament. Even Cinderella has their sights set on the Final four when they’re only a game away, which should tell you about how successful this tournament run was for Dayton.

The question now becomes the future of this program, and while they’ll lose Devin Oliver, Vee Sanford and Matt Kavanaugh, the good news is that, for now, Dayton will return the most important part of their program: Archie Miller.

The younger brother of Arizona head coach Sean Miller, the son of a well-known high school coach in Pennsylvania, a product of N.C. State and a former Thad Matta staffer, Archie has the pedigree of a coach destined to be a star. It was only a matter of time until he was going to have his name pop up in every coaching search in the country. A run to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament simply sped up that process, but Dayton put a stop to that movement with a vengeance, locking Miller into a contract extension last Monday.

Along with Miller, the Flyers will return Pierre, their leading scorer, and Sibert, who may actually be their most talented offensive weapon. Throw in sophomore Scoochie Smith and incoming freshmen Darrell Davis and Steve McElvene, and Dayton will have a nice blend of quality experience and talented youngsters. In other words, the direction that this program is heading is a positive one.

Will they be able to replicate the success they had this season anytime soon?

Who knows.

They can probably earn a bid to the tournament next season, but that’s no guarantee that wins over programs like Ohio State, Syracuse and Stanford will happen again.

The bottom line is this: the Flyers will have talent and be well-coached for at least one more year, and as we learned this season, that’s enough to put together a run to the Elite 8.

Syracuse upsets No. 18 UConn as Tyler Lydon stars again

St Bonaventure Syracuse Basketball
AP Photo/Heather Ainsworth
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Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney combined for 34 points as Syracuse overcame an early 10-point deficit to knock off No. 18 UConn in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis, 79-76.

The talking point at the end of this game is probably going to end up being UConn’s decision not to foul Syracuse with 36 seconds left on the clock. Trevor Cooney dribbled out the clock and, with six seconds left, missed a 35-foot prayer, the offensive rebound getting corralled by Tyler Roberson, sealing the win.

But that’s not the real story here.

That would be Tyler Lydon, who suddenly looks like he may end up being the difference maker for this Syracuse team.

If you don’t know the name, I don’t blame you. Lydon was a low-end top 100 recruit that had been committed to the Orange for a long time. He’s not exactly a game-changing prospect, but he’s a perfect fit for Syracuse. At 6-foot-9, Lydon has the length to be a shot-blocker in the middle of the 2-3 zone — he entered Thursday averaging 3.3 blocks — but his biggest skill is his ability to shoot the ball from beyond the arc. When he plays the middle of that zone, when he is essentially the five for the Orange, they become incredibly difficult to matchup with defensively.

The question is whether or not he can consistently be that guy on the defensive end of the floor. Against UConn, Lydon had 16 points and 12 boards. Against Charlotte, he finished with 18 points, eight boards and six blocks. But neither the Huskies nor the 49ers have a big front line that crashes the offensive glass.

Lydon is great at using his length to make shots in the lane difficult, but at (a generous) 205 pounds, he may run into trouble against bigger, stronger front court players.

The perfect test?

Texas A&M, who the Orange will play in the title game on Friday.

USC holds on to beat No. 20 Wichita State

Andy Enfield
Associated Press
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With guards Fred VanVleet and Landry Shamet both sidelined due to injury, No. 20 Wichita State arrived at the Advocare Invitational shorthanded. But even with that being the case the highly successful Shockers represented quite the opportunity for USC, and Thursday afternoon the Trojans took advantage.

Despite turning the ball over 23 times Andy Enfield’s team found a way to win, hanging on to beat the Shockers by the final score of 72-69. Freshman forward Bennie Boatwright, a tough matchup for most teams as a 6-foot-10 stretch forward who can score from the perimeter, shot 5-for-9 from three and scored a team-high (and career-high) 22 points.

The tandem of he and junior Nikola Jovanovic, who added 14 points and 11 rebounds, outplayed the Wichita State front court on a day in which the Shockers needed greater contributions from those players. Add in 15 points and four assists from Jordan McLaughlin, ten points off the bench from Katin Reinhardt and a 12-for-23 afternoon from three, and the Trojans were able to do enough to make up for their high turnover count and Wichita State’s 24 points off of turnovers.

Given the absence of VanVleet and Shamet there’s no reason to panic regarding Wichita State. Ron Baker, who was exhausted by the end of the game due to the heavy load he was asked to shoulder, scored a game-high 25 points and the play of freshman Markis McDuffie was a positive to build on.

McDuffie, who entered Thursday’s game without a made field goal in his first two appearances as a Shocker, shot 5-for-9 from the field and contributed 14 points and three rebounds off the bench. With their current perimeter rotation being what it is McDuffie will have opportunities to contribute, and the Shockers will need him to take advantage as they await the returns of VanVleet and Shamet (and the addition of Conner Frankamp).

Doing so will not only help Wichita State in the short term but in the long-term as well, thus giving Gregg Marshall another option to call upon on his bench.

Thursday’s outcome, even with the desire to see more from Anton Grady (eight points, seven rebounds), says more about USC at this point in time than Wichita State. Enfield’s first two seasons at the helm were about amassing the talent needed to compete in the Pac-12 while also gaining valuable (and at times painful) experience. In year three the Trojans hope to take a step forward within the conference, and wins like this one provide evidence of the program’s growth.