Evaluating Dayton Flyers one third of way into regular season

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Dayton coach looks ahead to Vanderbilt game after loss to Northwestern.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Xeyrius Williams, Sam Miller team’s most improved players

Coach Archie Miller and the Dayton Flyers spent Sunday watching film of their 67-64 loss to Northwestern a day earlier. Replaying that game on the chilly streets of Chicago with a ball covered in ice would have been more fun than reliving one of the worst offensive halves in the Miller era.

“It was really disappointing,” Miller said Monday. “What a great stage it was — a great environment — and we just didn’t start the game with the proper mindset. I though we showed a lot of pride after halftime. Guys really battled. It was a tale of two halves. Give Northwestern credit. They were really ready to play. We weren’t making it easy on each other from an offensive perspective in the first half.”

The film showed Dayton making 4 of 28 field goals in the first half, falling behind by as many as 24 points. Dayton’s four seniors shot 1 of 15 from the floor. Northwestern grabbed twice as many rebounds (28-14) in the half.

Dayton’s Charles Cooke dribbles up the floor against East Tennessee State on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff
Dayton’s Charles Cooke dribbles up the floor against East Tennessee State on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

In evaluating the film, Miller said, “You’ve got to take what the defense gives you. When things get going bad, you can’t force the action and go 1 on 4 or 3 on 5. You can’t say, ‘I have my touch here. It’s my turn to try to make a play.’ Northwestern did a very good job of protecting the rim and the paint. It was a very difficult first half for us.

“We needed some shots to go down as well. There were five to eight plays in the first six to seven minutes that really hurt us with shot selection or a forced drive with no chance of it really going in. We have to be more a spread-out team, a dribble-drive team that passes the ball on the move and can kick it and move it a little more. It’s not that easy when you don’t have a true low-post player.”

Dayton (7-3) has played one third of the regular season. Twenty games remain, starting with a 7 p.m. Wednesday matchup with Vanderbilt (6-4) at UD Arena. Here’s a summary of Dayton entering the last week of non-conference play:

MVP: Senior guard Charles Cooke matched his season low with 12 points Saturday. Nevertheless, his scoring average stands at 19.2. He averaged 15.6 last season.

Most improved: Sophomore forward Xeyrius Williams has seen his numbers increase across the board. He averaged 2.2 points and 1.8 rebounds in 9.9 minutes per game last season. This season, he's averaging 7.2 points and 3.9 rebounds in 24.2 minutes per game. He has blocked 14 shots after rejecting 10 all of last season.

Second most improved: Sophomore forward Sam Miller was the only player who hit multiple field goals in the first half Saturday. He hit two 3-pointers.

Miller has made 10 of 22 3-pointers and leads the team with 45.5 percent shooting from 3-point range. Miller’s scoring has jumped from 3.2 to 8.0. His rebounding has improved from 1.4 to 4.1.

Milestone watch: Senior point guard Scoochie Smith needs nine points to reach the 1,000-point mark in his career. He ranks 47th in school history with 991 points. He passed Kevin Conrad (983, 1979-83) and Andy Meyer (988, 1992-96) with 18 points Saturday and trails Charles Little (996, 2005-09) by five points.

Best stat: Dayton ranks seventh in the country in steal percentage, which is measured by dividing steals by defensive possessions. The Flyers average 8.4 steals per game.

Worst stat: Dayton ranks 12th of 14 teams in the Atlantic 10 in free-throw percentage (66.9 percent). That is not great but still slightly better than last season (66.8). Dayton's opponents have shot 72.9 percent at the line.

Big picture: Dayton ranks No. 39 in the RPI and No. 40 in the Pomeroy ratings. Its strength of schedule will take a hit Friday

when it plays Virginia Military Institute (2-7), which ranks No. 340 out of 351 teams in the RPI and No. 320 in the Pomeroy ratings.


Vanderbilt at Dayton, 7 p.m., TWC SportsChannel, FM 95.7, AM 1290 WHIO

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