With about five minutes left and the University of Dayton Flyers taking control of their NCAA game against Providence, broadcaster Doug Gottlieb muttered, “How ARE they doing it?”
Obviously, Mr. Gottlieb didn’t do his homework on UD basketball and how they do it. The Flyers beat Providence, 66-53, and they did it the way they always do it.
They did it with heart, hard work, stick-to-it-tive-ness and an attitude of in-your-face Mr. Adversity.
They did it with a defense that had Providence’s offense reduced to backyard alley ball. They totally frustrated Providence’s two superstars, L. Henton and Chris Davis. (Henton had 18 points but was 7 for 26 from the field. Davis, one of the nation’s premier point guards, scored 11 points and had seven turnovers.
They did it by forcing turnovers and they did it because they didn’t hang their heads when they started the game 1 for 11. They did it despite the fact their best shooter, Jordan Sibert, couldn’t throw a three-pointer into the Olentangy River from a canoe.
But, as always, the senior leader came up with a big three-pointer just when the Flyers needed it most.
And in case anybody hasn’t heard, they did it with only six scholarship players (you can’t really count Bobby Wehrli, a walk-on given a scholarship halfway through the season). They did it with no player taller than 6-foot-6, one of only two Division I schools in the country with no player taller than 6-foot-6.
And they did it because Archie Miller is one hell of a coach, a true motivator and tactician. He has kept his team together with Scotch tape, duct tape and Gorilla Glue.
No doubt we’ll hear it again and again and again, from the broadcasters about UD’s “home court” advantage. They harped on it when the Flyers played in The First Four on their home floor. They were right about that one, but it wasn’t UD’s fault the dunderheads who picked the teams and the sites placed Dayton in The First Four and put them on their home floor.
But they also had the audacity to call UD’s game against Providence a home court advantage because it was in Columbus, 70 miles from Dayton. They said it gave UD a fan advantage.
Once again they needed some homework. Flyer fans are some of the best travelers in the country. Wherever the Flyers go, the Flyer Faithful follow — be it Dayton, Columbus, Buffalo, N.Y., Memphis or Maui.
Out of 16 games played Friday, the Flyers were the only team with a lower seed to win on this day. UD is an 11 (for the third straight year) and Providence was a No. 6.
And the Flyers, the last team invited into the field, is the only Atlantic 10 survivor as VCU and Davidson both lost their first games to Big 10 rivals, Ohio State and Iowa.
So it is on to the third round for the Flyers, a Sunday date against Oklahoma. Oh, the poor Sooners. They have to play the Flyers in their home state, another ‘home’ game.
Just how WILL they do it.