Hal McCoy
Hal McCoy

Hal McCoy is a former beat writer for the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio), covering the Cincinnati Reds baseball team. He was honored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002 as the winner of the J. G. Taylor Spink Award, which is awarded annually "for meritorious contributions to baseball writing." He has won 43 Ohio and national writing awards and was the first non-Cincinnati newsperson elected to the Cincinnati Journalists Hall of Fame. McCoy has been the Cincinnati BBWAA Chapter Chair 22 times and was the BBWAA national president in 1997. He is the third writer from the Dayton Daily News to win the J. G. Taylor Spink Award, joining Si Burick (1982) and Ritter Collett (1991). Residing in Clayton, Ohio, McCoy is an honors graduate in journalism from Kent State University.

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The Flyers did not take a look-ahead approach on this night. They focused and did what they were supposed to do — leave no doubt and did some heavy stomping en route to a 92-56 victory.

DAYTON — The dynamics were all there Friday night for the University of Dayton Flyers to suffer a blue, blue Christmas.

First of all, they were playing Virginia Military Institute and they had to play them without the Flyers leading scoring and team leader, Charles Cooke.

He injured his wrist in the first half of Wednesday’s victory over Vanderbilt and on Friday he was seated on a folding chair in street clothes.

unity_284x265_sidebarSecondly, it would have been easy for the Flyers to mail in a Christmas card for this game.

VMI was 3-and-7 and two of their victories came against Division III teams. The Keydets were 343rd on the RPI list of 351 schools playing Division I basketball.

It would have been easy for the Flyers to look at VMI with snugness and a smirk becaue they were picked preseason to finish last in the meek Southern Conference.

Their leading scorer — and rebounder — is a 6-foot guard named Q.J. Peterson.

The Flyers, though, did not take a look-ahead approach on this night. They focused and they did what they were supposed to do — leave no doubt and do some heavy stomping.

They took the breath away early from the Keydets and kept their sneakers on their throats en route to a 92-56 victory.

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And a good time was had by all.

—Seven Flyers scored in double figures. Sam Miller, playing off the bench, scored 15 in 16 minutes. Kyle Davis scored 14. Darrell Davis, starting in place of Cooke, scored 11. And four players scored 10 each — Ryan Mikesell, Xeyrius Williams (off the bench, John Crosby (off the bench) and Scoochie Smith.

—And Smith provided a touch of historic perspective by scoring his 1,000th career point, a free throw with 6:35 left in the first half.

—Seven different Flyers hit three-pointers and they tied a school record with 15 three-pointers, making 15 of 27 (56 per cent). In total, the Flyers were deadlier than Annie Oakley on a pinto pony by making 34 of 56 (61 per cent).

Scoochie Smith is not going to let walk-on non-scholarship player Jack Westerfield forget about his missed three-point in the final seconds that would have broken the team three-point record.

“We should have had 16 but Westerfield missed that shot,” said Smith, flashing an impish smile. “I’m going to let him know about it, too, because it is all about history. He has to make that.”

And Smith was disappointed over an overall portion of his game Friday.

“I should have had me a Westbrook,” said Smith.

A Westbrook? What’s a Westbrook?

“A triple-double, man,” he said, referring to Russell Westbrook of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder. Westbrook is trying to average a triple-double for the entire NBA season (double digits in points, rebounding and assists).

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Smith had 10 points, seven assists and seven rebounds and sat out a large portion of the second half.

Smith didn’t realize no UD player ever recorded a triple-double and said, “Really? I knew there was some kind of history involved. I tried to get coach to put me back in but he wouldn’t do it.”

Of his 1,000th point, which was announced on the UD Arena public address system when he made the free throw (then he missed the second one), Smith said, “That was the hardest point to get, whether you think about it or not. After I got it, number 22 from VMI congratulated me and said he is going to hit 2,000 this year. He said when he got his 1,000th it was a relief off his shoulders.”

Smith’s VMI congratulator, 22, was 6-0 guard Q.J. Peterson, a senior averaging 19 points a game and has averaged 19 in each of his four years at VMI. He holds the school single game record with 46. And despite his diminutive 6-foot-0, he leads the Keydets with seven rebounds a game.

It was classy for Peterson to talk positively to Smith about his historic marker because it was a frustrating night for Peterson, who wore Kyle Davis as a warm blanket all night.

As usual, Davis was assigned the opposition’s best scorer and he put solid clamps on Peterson.

Charles Cooke sat out the game with a thumb injury.

Leading scorer Charles Cooke sat out the game with a wrist injury.

He had only five points until there were nine minutes left and his team already was in a submission hold, trailing the Flyers, 70-43, when he made his second basket of the night.

Peterson finished with 10, nine below his average, and shot 4 for 14 (2 for 10 from three) and had five rebounds, two below his average.

Said Smith of his 1,000th, “I wasn’t thinking about it. I was just thinking about making my shots, but it is a little bit of a relief to get it out of the way. I was just concerned about missing shots, and shooters just keep shooting and every time I’m open I’m going to keep taking my shots.”

So the Flyers finished their pre-conference schedule 9-and-3 and open Atlantic 10 play next Friday at UD Arena against LaSalle. It is not certain about Cooke’s availability for that one and coach Archie Miller said, “He is day-to-day.”

Darrell Davis, Cooke’s stand-in starter Friday, was 4 for 8 from the field and three for six from the arc in 26 minutes.

“Darrell Davis has been the one guy we’ve been waiting for and waiting for,” said Miller. “He is sort of playing real well right now and that’s a big step heading into January to have another guy who can stretch the floor.”

Of the 15 three-pointers, Miller said, “We’re a better three-point shooting team than we’ve shown. The ball movement we’ve been doing is helping our percentage. During the course of the season, some of the threes we’ve taken have not been good, sometimes too quick or forced. The shots we’ve taken the last couple of games have been kickbacks or off the post. The higher quality shots you take the more chance you have of making it.”

Fifteen three-pointers is unusual, but seven different players making three-pointers is astounding.

hal_inset1212“With guys like Ryan Mikesell, Xeyrius Williams and Sam Miller, the young guys, we’ve tried to establish that with their more minutes of playing time. They can hit them. They’ve been more consistent with more playing time.”

Mikesell was 2 for 2, Miller was 2 for 3 and Williams was 2 for 3. Darrell Davis was 3 for 6, John Crosby was 2 for 2 and Kyle Davis was 2 for 3 as the Flyers shot threes as if they were in a practice layup line.

“We had 26 assists in this game after 17 (against Vanderbilt) so there is a concerted effort to share the ball and that’s going to be a key thing for us,” said Miller.

VMI seemed to have their heads on swivels as they watched the Flyers zip passes from top to bottom to side to side until somebody was open and finished the deed.

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