So now the naysayers will be braying, “The Dayton Flyers shouldn’t have been allowed to play on their home floor.”
And you know what? They are right. They shouldn’t have. But it wasn’t their fault. They didn’t ask to play at home. And, secondly, they shouldn’t have been required to play in The First Four in the first place.
Blame the NCAA selection committee, not the Flyers. They showed up where they were told to show up.
Almost everybody in the country, except the selection committee, has weighed in with opinions that UD deserved higher than a No. 11 seed and shouldn’t have been anywhere near UD Arena on Wednesday night.
So what happened.
The Flyers, wearing their road red uniforms (did that fool anybody?), pulled off another miracle. They did it the way they always seem to do it, with sheer heart and intestinal fortitude.
They beat Boise State, 56-55, coming from nine points behind late in the game. And they did it with their star player, Jordan Sibert, sitting on a blue chair longer than he spent on the floor, due to foul trouble.
He sat most of the first half. He sat a whole bunch of time in the second half and didn’t come back into the game until there were less than four minutes to play. What did he do? He buried a three-pointer with 38 seconds left to give the Flyers the 56-55.
Boise State had the ball out of bounds with 04.6 seconds left. BSU’s star player, Derrick Marks, got his hands on the ball with Dayton’s best defender, Kyle Davis, in his face.
Marks faked a shot, getting Davis off his feet, then went up for a shot, actually a desperate heave, that missed everything. Davis never touched him and, in fact, Marks jumped into him.
But the broadcasters were screaming that Marks was fouled. Replays showed that he wasn’t. The same broadcasters harped on the fact the Flyers had the home court working for them. Once again, yes they did — the UD fans blew the roof off as the Flyers staged their comeback. But it wasn’t their call and they merely played where the NCAA told them to play.
To his credit, Marks didn’t use UD playing on its home court as the reason his team lost. “I don’t think it mattered. It was a good atmosphere and their crowd was great,” he said.
Boise State coach Leon Rice took the high-class road during his televised post-game comments.
“It was a tough environment to play in and our guys didn’t lean on it as an excuse,” he said.
“The place is loud and it has an effect on the game. I was yelling, trying to get a timeout on the last possession but couldn’t be heard.
“I don’t think that’s the spirit of the NCAA tournament to have a team play on its home court, but we are not making excuses and played the hand we were dealt. It was just circumstances.”
Bad circumstances for Boise State, that’s for sure. Yes, the had to play the bad hand that was dealth to them. And UD had to play the fortunate hand that was dealt to them.
It wasn’t UD’s fault. Maybe with all the controversy the NCAA learned its lesson and probably owes Boise State an apology. But learn its lesson? Probably not.
So now the Flyers get to play Friday night against Providence in Columbus, just 70 miles away. Now whose fault is