- Marcus Hartman
Sometimes weird stuff happens during a basketball season.
Like Wright State being swept by Milwaukee.
Or Dayton blowing out VCU only to look like it would be blown out by VCU then nearly beating the Rams in overtime but losing anyway.
(Or Ohio State contending for the Big Ten championship, but we’ll get to that later.)
Of course, Wright State has established a winning formula this season while Dayton has not.
Judging by the reaction to what I wrote last week, few Dayton fans are ready to panic (which is not to suggest they should be, but I still thought it was better to ask what the mood is rather than guess).
ESPN might like to ask if every coach who isn’t on a winning streak should be on the hot seat, but generally the reality this is a transition year under Anthony Grant seems not lost on many.
It’s understandable to be pretty discouraged, though, especially after Saturday night’s game at VCU.
Yet another chance to build some late-season momentum — coming off a good win and facing a team the Flyers already knew they could beat — went poof in a bizarre couple of hours.
I know we have a tendency to harp on the negative on the internet, but I can’t help but think the bad parts of the game at VCU were more vivid than the good.
It’s hard to look worse than Dayton did during the run that gave the Rams their huge lead in the second half, and the Flyers did not handle overtime very well, either.
Of course, they demonstrated some great resilience in their rally to force overtime, too.
Overall this was sort of a microcosm of the season.
Facing a solid-but-beatable opponent (there haven’t been many cupcakes), the Flyers had a long stretch where they appeared to be totally lost and another where they looked unbeatable.
A great play led to Josh Cunningham’s tying basket at the end of regulation, but execution was lacking in overtime.
Also there continue to be valid questions about the rotation. The coach knows more about the inner workings of the team than we do, but I have wondered from the start if the failure of many players to grab established roles was a result of not being given much of a chance to.
Grant said not playing Xeyrius Williams, who has shown he can be a major contributor at this level, and Kosas Antetokounmpo, who has shown he has the potential to be a major contributor at this level, was simply his decision.
That’s always going to be second-guessed after a loss, but it was also a little odd considering he also cited fatigue as a factor in the way the Flyers played at times.
So…. with six games left, if you have reached the point where you’re ready for this season to be over, I don’t blame you. There are some things to build on, and there are at least a few things to look forward to.
David Jablonski cites four here.
On the bright side: The Flyer women’s team just keeps on winning…
Meanwhile, Wright State also fell behind Milwaukee then staged a furious comeback that ultimately fell short.
The Raiders still control their own destiny with Northern Kentucky coming to the Nutter Center on Friday night.
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The WSU women, who looked like Horizon League contenders early in the season before hitting a rough patch, also won.
As usual, Fairmont grad Chelsea Welch was the star player for the Raiders in an 80-75 win over Oakland on Saturday.
Those Raiders remain in fourth place in the Horizon League and have a breather this week before playing Northern Kentucky at the Nutter Center on Saturday...
As for Ohio State, the Buckeyes showed no hangover effects from their dramatic win at Purdue.
They blew out Iowa on Saturday night to maintain their hold on first place in the Big Ten standings.
Michigan State put them there by handing the Boilermakers their second consecutive loss right before the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes tipped off.
All three would be in the top 16 of the NCAA tournament field if it were to begin today.
Ohio State would be the No. 4 seed in the East while the Spartans head to the South with a three seed and the Boilermakers hold a No. 1 seed in the West.
Purdue’s two-game losing streak likely helped Xavier, which was a No. 1 seed in the Midwest as the committee released a seeding preview for the first time…
On the local hoops scene, Springfield took the highly-anticipated rematch with Wayne on Friday night.
Both teams won at home.
Will we see a rubber match in the postseason?
The Wildcats hope to make the best of their little late-season losing streak, too.