The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: Winthrop
The glorious return of Kendall Pollard culminated in an 83–67 victory over Winthrop at UD Arena last Saturday. Some thoughts:
- Of course, we have to start with the return of Pollard. After entering to a standing ovation in the first half, Kendall looked a bit rusty, committing a charge on his first possession while going scoreless throughout the first half. His second half was much better: 12 points, 5 rebounds, and a block in just 18 minutes. He adds a completely different dimension to the offense with his ability to drive from the top of the key. Neither Xeyrius Williams, Ryan Mikesell, nor Sam Miller have the quickness or finishing ability of Pollard. Dayton scored 50 points in the 2nd half, and Kendall was a big part of that. It’ll be awhile before he has the conditioning to play a full game, but it was great to see him out there.
- Another large part of the second half offensive explosion: Scoochie Smith. 6–8 from two, 1–2 from three for 15 points and 7(!) rebounds(!) all take a backseat to this:
How the hell is that even remotely possible? I’m running out of words to describe him. Scoochie is playing at a level I’ve never seen from a Dayton point guard. He’s dishing out assists at the highest rate of his career while turning it over less, stealing it more, and shooting better than ever. His free throw shooting has returned to the expected 75% rate and he’s hitting threes at a 44% clip. Most impressively he’s shooting 62% from two!!! That is probably not sustainable but damn it’s been fun to watch. I’m going to miss him like hell next year.
- Xeyrius Williams has officially jumped to the top of the sophomore class rankings (X, Mikesell, Miller, Crosby. Miller and Mikesell are pretty interchangeable IMO). Although he let Cooks drive by him too easily a few times, he had 3 blocks and is now 199th in the country and 9th in the conference in block rate. He grades out well defensively every time I rewatch the games (those grades will be posted this week). The shooting still needs some consistency (shot back to back threes, one a swish the other a brick that hit backboard first), but his offensive skills are growing. He found Miller for an easy bucket after getting double teamed in the post and only turned it over once. He’s becoming a trustworthy contributor.
- First guard off the bench is officially up for grabs. Both John Crosby and Darrell Davis have struggled this season, but I think Crosby might be pulling ahead. He’s played 9 more minutes the last 2 games and while he hasn’t exactly distinguished himself he hasn’t done anything noticeably terrible either. One turnover, three assists, and no bonehead shots in the past three games is good enough for me.
- Darrell on the other hand floundered in this game, bricking a dunk and missing a driving layup. The worst part came in the first half, when he successfully pumped faked his man into the air, took a dribble, and rose up for a wide open two-pointer. It missed badly. That is a practice shot you take every single day and he wasn’t even close on it. He’s shot the ball pretty well from three this year, but I’m worried about his consistency, and most worried for next year when he’ll take on a much larger burden of the offense.
- Free throw shooting was a problem again as UD went only 15–25 from the line. This brings us to 66.9% on the year, good for 237th in the country.
The worst part about it is there isn’t a single player who shoots lights out from the line. Other than Cooke, everybody has pretty small sample sizes, but the fact that nobody is hitting higher than Scoochie’s 75% is alarming. The chances of anyone in that range making two straight free throws tops out at 56% which does not give me any sort of confidence. Kendall encouragingly went 4–6 and looked good doing it. Hopefully he’s a 66% free throw shooter instead of a mid 50s one this year.