The Blackburn Review, which I believe is a fairly well-run and snarky blog, invited us to a little Q & A session with one of its esteemed bloggeurs, "Don Donoher."
Dayton is most known for its basketball program, which may be the only sport that university plays (maybe there's rowing or staring at really unattractive women contests too).
The scoundrels over at the Blackburn Review were more than kind enough to share some sarcasm, insight and general fan-ery about their Flyers and impressions of the Rebels looking forward to a Saturday match in Oxford.
Our responses to their questions is here.
1.) Tell us a little about your blog (the origin of its name, how long you've been doing it, what got you into Dayton basketball, etc.)
Don: It was a beautiful early fall day back in October 2008 when Tom Blackburn, tired of reading the "one-sided, EVERYTHING IS AWESOME" coverage of the Dayton Flyers, decided to start a blog. He (Tom) ran it on his own with minimal fanfare until a fateful day when I (Don Donoher) came calling in November. At that time, the site blew up. It went from about 10 hits a day to 30 over night.
We currently have 5 writers, all named after UD bball coaches. Tom Blackburn, Don Donoher, Harry Baujaun, Jim O'Brien, and Ollie (for Oliver Purnell). None of us really know exactly how Tom came up with the name "The Blackburn Review" but we all can agree that it is quite terrible. In fact, it wasn't too long ago that if you actually typed Blackburn Review into Google, you'd have to go to the 6th page just to find our site.
I think what makes our site work is that we all are different ages. While the other 4 guys graduated from UD, I went to Miami of Ohio. I grew up in Dayton and attended UD basketball games my entire life. Therefore, I'd like to think all 5 of us have a great knowledge of the University and the people attached to it. Blackburn graduated in 2002, me in 2004, Ollie in 2006, O'Brien in 2007, and Harry in 2009. So we mix a little old in with the new. But in reality, like our banner says, we have a "detached, yet biased, coverage of Dayton basketball. As I am sure you could say about Ole Miss message boards/websites, sometimes people go way overboard with unrealistic expectations, ham and eggers if you will. I like to think that our site gives an honest look at UD basketball. All 5 of us know that the Dayton Flyers are not on the level with Duke, UNC, and Kentucky and therefore most likely will never win a National Championship in our lifetime. However, it's still fun to shoot the shit with friends and watch a, at times, very fun basketball program.
2.) After winning the NIT last year, was there a little resentment among fans that you didn't get selected for the Big Dance? Do fans expect to get to the NCAAs this year?
Don: If you want a good laugh, go to www.udpride.com and read what the commenters over there think about Dayton. They think it's the 1940's and 50's still and that Dayton is a national power. At our site, I'd like to think that we have a non-biased look at this program. Obviously the goal every year is to make the NCAA Tournament. I don't think it's out of the question to expect that from Dayton every year. Now should we expect Sweet 16 or Elite 8 every year? Of course not. Dayton fans like to think they are on the same level as Xavier, Butler, and Gonzaga but the truth of the matter is that they aren't there...yet. Once Dayton starts winning NCAA Tournament games on a consistent basis, they can get to that level.
As for resentment after last year's NIT run. I have mixed feelings. Personally I think the NIT is pathetic and the fact that it still exists rubs me the wrong way. However, it did give the team a chance to play more games and use that momentum into next year. I think all 5 of us writers knew the writing was on the wall once Dayton lost to Xavier (AGAIN) in the A-10 Tournament. So we were not shocked when their bubble was popped on Selection Sunday.
Because Dayton lost so many seniors last year and are bringing in so many new freshmen and transfers, it is very tough to get a pulse on this season's expectations. We recently polled our readers (http://www.blackburnreview.com/main/2010/11/14/survey-sez.html) on their expectations for this season. 74% said the NCAA, 24% said the NIT, and 1% said CBI/CI.net. Most of our readers are fairly optimistic, but not to the point where it's absurd. So I guess you can say, even though we still have NO idea how good these freshmen will be, that this team should be in the NCAA Tournament this year.
3.) Last season, it seemed like Dayton was able to take advantage of strong post play and wear teams down – great rebounding, solid big men. Is that something we can expect to see on Saturday vs. Ole Miss?
Don: I don't fault you for thinking that Dayton has "solid big men" as in the first game of the season this year, Devin "Big Dog" Searcy threw down an unreal (for Dayton center standards) 15 and 12. Dayton has not had a solid big man since 2004. Kurt Huelsman (whose name is never allowed to be mentioned on our blog again) started every game in his 4 years at Dayton and only averaged 4.5 and 4. So we really don't have a history of strong post play. Hopefully Searcy continues his torrid play (he really tore it up this summer too) and Dayton can finally have that post man they have desperately needed to get over that hump in the A-10.
As for the rebounding comment, the reason Dayton gets so many rebounds (as witnessed by the 54 they had in the opening game) is because they miss A LOT of 3-pointers. And with those missed 3-pointers come a lot of long rebounds. Our guards are quick and our forwards are undersized and therefore can chase down those misses. As much as I love the Big Dog, you won't see him (or any Dayton player for that matter) average double figures in rebounds this season.
4.) What can you tell us about newcomer Juwan Staten? Is it likely he'll start at PG all season?
Don: To again refer to the poll that was on our site, 90% of our commenters have a full rod in terms of initial reactions/expectations of Staten. He is by far the biggest recruit that Dayton has had in a long, long time. He is from Dayton but transferred to Oak Hill his senior year to play against better competition. Some thought he might go back on his word and sign elsewhere, but he stayed true and we are obviously happy to have him. From what I have seen so far, he is the real deal. Some are shocked he was pegged the starter right away, as Josh Parker (a starter at Drake) practiced all year with the team last year. Parker is no slouch and the fact that Staten beat him out to be the starter says something about this kid's potential.
5.) Does Dayton spread the wealth on offense as much as it seems on these early stat sheets? Or is it just the coaches figuring out how to allocate minutes in the future?
Don: If you ever listen to a UD game on the radio (don't) there is always this running gag where the announcers say, "And now a new line change for the Flyers." Brian Gregory subs early and often. There are only 2 players on this team (Chris Wright and Chris Johnson) that would ever play over 35 minutes in a game. Some people think they should, some think that they need to save their legs for the end in case it is a close game. Dayton likes to spread the ball around and of course, look for the open shot. However, most coaches are smart enough to play a zone vs Dayton and force them to shoot up a horrible 3-pointer with two seconds left on the shot clock. Many people are high on Brian Gregory. Jay Bilas called him "one of the best in the business!" As laughable as that sounds, Gregory has won a lot of games at Dayton. This year's team might be his most athletic team so therefore, look for 10-11 players (when healthy) to play significant minutes.
6.) Dayton vs. Ole Miss...replay of last year's NIT Final Four match minus a couple great players from both teams. Who wins Saturday and what's your final prediction?
Don: Dayton is not missing any great players from last year's team. Yes, they lost a lot of seniors, but none of them were really that good. Last year's NIT run will forever be cemented in Dayton lore (that's a joke), so if we beat the Rebels last year, it should be a victory again this year. Well, not really. I really don't know how to judge this game. Dayton, like Ole Miss, does not really have that many good non-conference games. This is probably going to be one of, if not the toughest, non-conference game Dayton plays this year. Dayton ALWAYS struggles on the road and will continue to struggle. Dayton averages about 13,000 fans to their games so they should be used to big crowds. But when they play in smaller gyms, they always shit the bed. I'd like to think that Dayton is more talented than this year's Rebels team but it is just too early to say that. I'll just go ahead and sound like a pussy and say this game is a toss up. I'll go with Dayton winning by 5 because of late free throws down the stretch (something that they rarely ever do). Shit, I hope I didn't just jinx them.