Second Thoughts: After Flyers’ ugly season, hope springs eternal

Dayton’s Trey Landers, right, slaps hands with Josh Cunningham after making a 3-pointer against Fordham on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

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Dayton’s Trey Landers, right, slaps hands with Josh Cunningham after making a 3-pointer against Fordham on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff

I should’ve taken out a second mortgage and headed to New York for the Big Ten tournament. Did you see all those empty seats in the first few rows? Could’ve cruised in there and drawn up a few plays for confused coaches who don’t understand two-for-one strategy. And that’s most of them.

The end is near for the Dayton Flyers. It will be a mercy killing by whoever stomps them by 20 points in the Atlantic 10 tournament. It was obvious early in the season that UD would struggle, but there has been no improvement, only regression. The Flyers have lost five games by 15-plus points, including their last three setbacks heading into the weekend. They’ll finish with their first losing record since the early days of BG.

The good news? UD’s three players – Josh Cunningham, Trey Landers and Jalen Crutcher – will return next season. That’s a strong nucleus. If Ryan Mikesell returns healthy and hungry, if incoming freshman Dwayne Cohill is as good as his press clippings, and if Obadiah Toppin looks as good on the court as he does leading cheers from the bench, UD might be primed for a turnaround.

If Kostas Antetokounmpo can gulp down high-calorie protein shakes from now until mid-November, maybe the Flyers can push for an upper-division finish in the A-10 (which is awful this season). Losing Darrell Davis won’t hurt. Losing John Crosby, who will mean it this time when he says he’s transferring, will help. Who knows what’s really going on with Xeyrius Williams.

This means the Flyers are looking at an nine-man rotation of Cunningham, Landers, Crutcher, Jordan Davis, Mikesell, Cohill, Antetokounmpo, Toppin and JUCO import Jhery Matos. (I’m assuming Grant wouldn’t bring in a JUCO kid unless he could play right away.) Maybe a 10th player emerges if the Flyers add another JUCO piece or a quality high school recruit. Can you say 2019 NIT?

The Big Ten tourney wraps up today in NYC. I hear commish Jim Delany is thinking about staging the 2020 event in Dubai because he enjoyed that flying car escape in Fast & Furious 7. It’s not a good look when someone/something tries to be what they’re not. That would be the Big Ten right now. Get back to the Midwest, guys.

LeBron James says the NCAA is corrupt and wants to “shore up” the NBA’s G League and make it an alternative for kids who would rather bypass college ball. You know, the kids who don’t want a free education, great amenities, tons of food, clothes, travel, tutors, networking opportunities, stipends – I repeat, stipends — and entry into all the best parties on campus. No way LeBron’s idea works because the athletes have it too good in school.

Some goofballs are calling for a player boycott of the NCAA tournament. Yeah, OK. Say Wright State wins the Horizon League tourney. Try selling that line of bull to the Raiders, most of whom won’t be playing basketball after they leave WSU.

Trending up: Chris Holtmann, Ja'Quan Newton, Dwyane Wade. Holtmann has made basketball cool again at Ohio State. The BIG coach of the year proved that his winning run at Butler was no fluke. The Buckeyes, who I believe run a clean program, are a team this state can get behind – at least until the spring football game.

Trending down: JR Smith, Richie Pitino, Hoosiers. The Cavaliers' mercurial shooting guard was suspended for one game for reportedly throwing soup at a coach. I hope it wasn't Campbell's chicken noodle. Love that stuff. Smith apparently was miffed about losing his starting spot. Only surprise here is that Smith hit his target; he's shooting only 39 percent from the field this season.

KOW

An outraged Sean Miller proved Thursday that he’s great at reading prepared statements written by his attorney(s). The embattled Arizona basketball coach maintained his innocence in the wake of a report that claims he was caught on a wiretap discussing a $100,000 payment to deliver Deandre Ayton to the Wildcats. Maybe he is innocent, or maybe he’s as guilty as a bank robber with dye in his hair. If Miller were innocent, why wouldn’t he take questions? That makes me think his statement was worded in a way that would not incriminate him. Would he stumble over a question from a lowly reporter? I’d love to see that because Miller would sweat through his shirt in 30 seconds.


Knucklehead of the Week

An outraged Sean Miller proved Thursday that he’s great at reading prepared statements written by his attorney(s). The embattled Arizona basketball coach maintained his innocence in the wake of a report that claims he was caught on a wiretap discussing a $100,000 payment to deliver Deandre Ayton to the Wildcats. Maybe he is innocent, or maybe he’s as guilty as a bank robber with dye in his hair. If Miller were innocent, why wouldn’t he take questions? That makes me think his statement was worded in a way that would not incriminate him. Would he stumble over a question from a lowly reporter? I’d love to see that because Miller would sweat through his shirt in 30 seconds.

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