Friday, March 28, 2014

DAYTON DAYTON DAYTON DAYTON DAYTON!

My initial instinct was just to write DAYTON DAYTON DAYTON DAYTON about five hundred times, claim I'd hit word count, and hit publish.

But that would be wrong. Or at least, a little eerily reminiscent of The Shining.
So, let us take a moment, and some verbs, to consider the University of Dayton, which has advanced to the Elite 8 when nobody thought they'd be in the Big Dance to begin with.

DAYTON DAYTON DAYTON DAYTON ahem. Excuse me.


In advancing as far as they have, they have taught all of us Tournament-watchers some valuable lessons, all of which will be immediately forgotten and then re-learned when another double-digit seed goes on a rampage through the brackets next year.

  1. Playing well at the end of the season is probably more indicative of tournament performance than playing well at the beginning. This is why they were able to pick off a rubber-legged, damaged Syracuse team that had staggered into the Tournament at a sub-NC State level. Dayton, on the other hand, had won 10 of their last 12, which is another way of saying they were largely healthy and used to playing together, as opposed to patching and trying to figure out roles. (See also: Ohio State, which started 15-0 and ended, err, worse than that)
  2. Speed kills. Dayton was faster on the floor than the bigger Stanford lineup was, and when big is slow, big fouls. Stanford center Stefan Nastic was basically his team's only line of defense, and he fouled out with way too much time left on the clock. Why? Because his team was continually a step slow, and that meant he had to try to pick up the slack at the basket. Once he was gone, it was just a matter of time. (Yes, I know Stanford got within 6. So?)
  3. Believe you belong. So about that Stanford run that chopped it down from double digits to 6? Dayton didn't panic, like a lot of low seeds who feel the momentum shifting do. They countered by going right at the heart of the Stanford defense, scoring, and never letting it get that close again. If only Coastal Carolina had been able to do the same.
  4. Do what you do well, instead of changing things up based on what the other guy does. Dayton played the same offense against OSU and 'Cuse and Stanford that it did against the A-10. There's a reason for that: It was a very effective offense. "Dance with the one that brung ya" may be a cliche, as well as being weirdly ungrammatical, but the sentiment is sound: Switching up your approach in the tournament is like a closer shaking off his catcher to throw a hanging slider instead of a fastball. The thing you've traditionally done best is the thing you're probably going to keep on doing best, no matter who you're playing.

Which about sums it up. 

Except for one thing.

DAYTON DAYTON DAYTON DAYTON DAYTON!


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