Preview: vs. Dayton

By Steve DiMiceli

The Dukes will play a big game tomorrow at the AJ Palumbo center with home court advantage in the A-10 tournament likely at stake. Win and the Dukes should get a home game. Lose and we could be heading back to either the UD Arena or Philly.

Since last we met, Dayton is 2-2 with wins against Fordham and Charlotte and losses to St Louis and Xavier. Chris Johnson has really come alive, averaging 19.5 points in the last 4. His recent form reminds me of Aaron Jackson taking his game to another level during crunch time as a senior. If he and Matt Kavanaugh can both be effective, the Dukes will have a very difficult time winning unless they shoot lights out themselves. Kevin Dillard has had one solid shooting game since the Duquesne game, and he's shot under 40% the other three including against Fordham.

The Dukes have won the last two games against Dayton in Pittsburgh and 6 of the last 10. In a preview on Blackburn Review, one of their writer's, Rosceaux, points out that they haven't beaten us on the road since Bush was president. This is true but the last Flyer win in Pittsburgh happened only 3 days before Bush left office, in my opinion a bit of hyperbole that makes the road losing streak to the Dukes seem more egregious. In the same preview, he compares losing to Duquesne to sleeping with a fat girl. Sure, maybe you could make this comparison the first time the Dukes beat the Flyers in the Ron Everhart era, but 6 years later, we've lost weight and look a hell of a lot better. On the other hand, they've lost hair, traded some muscle mass for chub but still think they're a serious player. Bottom line, we're right in their league even if the programs aren't on completely equal footing. Some of them, Rosceaux included, are too blinded by past superiority to realize that this is a competitive series now and ultimately, losing two in a row on the road is not a big deal when playing a fairly comparable opponent.

The Dukes will need to take they're antibiotics and drink their orange juice because the strep throat epidemic  (hyperbole) really has them in a funk (not hyperbole). Sean Johnson is averaging a beastly 6.66 points a game and Jerry Jones missed Fordham entirely and only played 12 minutes against the Owls since being infected. In a normal week, BJ Montiero would have received A-10 top honors averaging 25 points and 7 boards. However, Andrew Nicholson and Tu Holloway killed it. The Dukes will need BJ to keep up his recent form until the diseased fully recover.

This is not a game Duquesne would normally win. However, with Dayton having the troubles of their own and the Dukes playing at home, I think we win this one in spite of it being a rematch. I'll go Dukes by 7 but I am concerned that just about everyone, including Rosceaux, seems to be picking Duquesne.