Setting: The Robins Center will be rocking tonight with the sounds of an Atlantic 10 rumble. Brian Gregory brings his Dayton Flyers (19-9/ 8-6) to Richmond for a tilt with Chris Mooney’s Spiders (22-7/ 11-3).
Plot: Richmond already clinched at least third place in the A10 standings. With a pair of wins to close conference play, Dayton could jump from seventh to fourth.
Sub-plot: Dayton opened the season ranked. After back-to-back weeks in the polls, the Spiders fell from the top 25 this week. The Flyers are 4-6 on the road, including 2-5 in A10 play.
Dayton’s nine losses have been by a combined total of 35 points. Dayton has not yet suffered a double-digit loss this season.
The A10 has 18 victories over BCS schools. Nine different teams have posted non-conference triumphs over the BCS conferences. Temple leads the way with four victories. Richmond, Rhode Island, and Xavier each have three.
Flashback: Marcus Johnson led the way with 15 points and Luke Fabrizius chipped in 11 as the Flyers overcame a slow start in last year’s conference quarterfinal in Atlantic City. Richmond held Dayton to five points for the first 10 minutes of play, but the Flyers notched a 69-64 victory. Dayton lost to Duquesne in the semis, 77-66.
Dayton leads the series 10-4, but Richmond has won the last four at home.
Richmond has been invited to the Dance seven times, including most recently in 2004. Dayton has earned 14 invites to The Dance, including a spot in the 1967 title game where they fell to John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins 79-64. Dayton beat West Virginia in last year’s opening round, 68-60.
Foreshadowing: Sixteen from the Marianist college have gone on to enjoy careers in the NBA including Jim Paxson Jr. and Johnny Davis. Two Spiders crawled the hardwood of the Association: Johnny Newman and John Schweitz.
Conflict: Points will be hard to come by tonight. In five seasons under Mooney, Richmond has allowed 70 or more points just 37 times. The Spiders rank in top 20 nationally in field goal percentage defense (38.7), scoring defense (60.2), and three-point percentage defense (28.6). Richmond is also 14th in the nation with a turnover margin of 4.4. The Spiders play a stingy match-up zone that confuses opponents and limits open opportunities.
UD opponents have scored 22 or fewer points in a half nine times this season. The Flyers hold opponents under 40 percent from the field and 31 percent from behind the arc. Dayton opponents average 61 points a game.
Chris Johnson is the key to Dayton’s success. The sophomore guard hits nearly 36 percent from behind the three-point arc. He is unafraid to shoot. He can create his own shot off the dribble. Dayton will need Johnson to open up the middle.
From there Wright has to takeover. The preseason Wooden candidate averages 14.5 ppg and grabs seven rebounds in 28 minutes of playing time. Wright scored Dayton’s first 11 points against Duquesne. He is capable of dominating, but he has not shown that he can do it for long stretches.
Marcus Johnson chips in eight points and three rebounds. Rob Lowery shares point guard duties with Warren. The senior scores almost seven a game and hands out nearly four assists.
Paul Williams is valuable off the bench. The sophomore has hit 26 threes this season. Mickey Perry hit five threes against Massachusetts.
Richmond hit 12 trifectas in an overtime loss to Xavier.
Kevin Anderson leads three Spiders in double figures. The junior point guard scores 17.4 while handing out 2.7 assists. Anderson is joined in the back court by senior, David Gonzalvez. The senior scores 13.8 a game and leads the Spiders with 60 threes.
Justin Harper leads the Spiders with 5.6 rebounds. The junior adds almost 11 points a game.
Ryan Butler and Darrius Garrett combine for nearly 10 points and 6.5 rebounds.
Dan Geriot provides valuable minutes off the bench for the Spiders. The junior scores seven and grabs four boards.
Resolution: In the final five minutes of play, Dayton has outscored opponents 327-239. That trend will continue tonight as the Flyers steal one in Richmond.