This was our worst performance since St. Thomas last year. Green picked up 2 early fouls, including an intentional that got the crowd into the game and allowed Dayton to go on an early run. As a result, he only played 3 minutes in the first half. I won't rehash the first half since I posted about it below, but being down only 11 we still had a decent shot.
It was more of the same in the 2nd half. Dayton was very effective against our half court traps. Their 10-19 shooting from 3 point range was not a fluke, most of those were wide open looks. I thought we tried to do too much defensively, often switching from the 2-3 zone to a diamond +1 in the same possession. For the most part, Dayton handled our press, but we did have one stretch in the 2nd half where the defense got us back into the game. We forced several turnovers that resulted in transition baskets, and we were able to cut the lead to 4. Unfortunately, Dayton drained back to back 3's to answer and push the lead back to 10. We cut it to 8, got a turnover, and had JaMychal Green at the line for a 1 and 1, but he missed the front end, Dayton scored at the other end, and it was never remotely close again.
Although he was able to score 12 points in the post, this was one of Green's worst games in a long time. He seemed tired down the stretch, holding his knees during dead balls and all of his jump shots (and free throws) seemed to miss off the front of the rim. This is inexplicable considering he only played 3 minutes of the first half.
Tony Mitchell tried to keep us in the game with 18 points, but even he forced some bad midrange jump shots. Our offense is terrible right now. We don't have anybody who can shoot from the outside. Trevor Lacey has good form and was 2 for 6 from downtown, but everybody else is pretty much hopeless right now. Cooper was 0 for 3 and missed some early shots and lost all confidence. I'm not convinced Randolph will ever be a great shooter with the lack of rotation on his shot. A big part of our shooting woes are mental. Our wing players lack confidence right now and are passing up some open shots only to end up taking the same contested shot later in the possession with the shot clock running down. A physical defect that I have noticed, we don't seem to set our feet as the pass is coming so that we can get a quick shot off. This is especially problematic against a zone. Our players don't catch the ball in position to shoot, instead they take a second or two after securing the ball to decide the next move, which gives the defense time to react.
Surprisingly, Dayton did not run as much zone as I thought they would, after we had problems with it against Georgetown. It's troubling that we struggled against their man to man as much as we did.
Releford's sophomore slump continues. He scored 13 points, but we need more than 2 assists in 35 minutes. He's also got to get to the foul line more, as he only shot 1 free throw this game. When we made our run to cut it to 4, his attacking the basket was a key part of that run.
Speaking of the point guard position, our substitution patterns made no sense whatsoever. Ben Eblen played 8 minutes, about half of which were at the 2 position. There is no reason, under ANY circumstance,EVER, that Ben Eblen should be in the game at the same time as Releford. Especially when we are losing by double digits in the 2nd half. You aren't going to come back with no scoring from your shooting guard position. Neither Eblen nor Engstrom played against Georgetown, but they combined for 12 minutes last night. Personally, I would only play Eblen if we were facing a pressing team and Releford and Lacey were struggling and/or in foul trouble. Engstrom would only play if Green and Jacobs were in foul trouble. Furthermore, we would either be in a 2-2-1 press or 2-3 zone with Engstrom in the middle. No man to man, no 1-1-2-1 as we saw last night. He doesn't have the quickness or reaction time to get into proper position. Also, I think it's time to start Trevor Lacey over Rodney Cooper.
This was our first true road game and we play a lot of freshmen, so it's not surprising that they struggled. It's concerning that our veterans did not step up, particularly Green and Releford. Dayton seems to play better against big name opponents. Their announcer said they are something like 16-5 against teams from power conferences over the last few years. Hopefully they will start playing better against the cupcakes on their schedule, or this loss could hurt us in March.
Up next, Dick Vitale's Detroit Titan's come to Tuscaloosa for a 5pm tipoff Sunday afternoon that will be televised on ESPNU. They are 4-6 with a win over St. John's and close losses to Notre Dame and a solid Cleveland State team. After 3 straight sub par performances, hopefully we can find some shooting and get back on track.