Sometimes a hero can emerge from strange places, like the back of a fox hole or from the inside of a doghouse, a place least expected. On Tuesday night in UD Arena, John Crosby not only emerged from season-long funkadelics, when he left the game against George Mason he received a standing ovation.
DAYTON — For most of this season, University of Dayton sophomore guard John Crosby has been an anti-hero to University of Dayton fans, somebody to trash on social media, somebody to laugh about when he trips over the foul line, somebody to curse and moan about when he enters games.
He spent so much time in Flyers Fans’ doghouse they might as well have nicknamed him Fido.
On Tuesday night in UD Arena, Crosby not only emerged from season-long funkadelics, when he left the game against George Mason he received a standing ovation.
The Flyers defeated George Mason, 83-70, to remain tied for first place with Virginia Commonwealth in the Atlantic 10 at 13-and-2. And it was a furious flurry by Crosby that turned the table and the tide in UD’s favor.
Or, as coach Archie Miller said, “He cashed in tonight and probably won the game for us.”
Crosby played only 12 minutes, but it was a whirling dervish 12 minutes. He scored a point a minute — 12 points on 4 of 5 shooting (three for three from three), snagged five rebounds and to the astonishment of many among the 13,071 attendees, not a single turnover, not one, not even a sniff of one.
And in Crosby’s case, that’s huge. Entering Tuesday’s game Crosby had 37 assists and 33 turnovers and thousands of groans from the fans.
The Flyers clung precariously early in the second half, a 48-47 lead with 14 minutes left.
After Charles Cooke hit a three, the spotlight shined directly in Crosby’s face. He hit a three. He made a free throw. After Josh Cunningham scored underneath, Crosby hit another three and followed that with an outside two.
That’s nine points for Crosby in a 14-point run to push the Flyers from 48-47 to 62-47. From there UD continued on a 20-0 blitz that put the Flyers in front 68-47 and they were playing the funeral dirge for George Mason.
At that point Crosby left the game to a standing ovation, a performance that fans hope continues because the 6-foot-2 guard from Baltimore is expected to be the heir apparent next season to senior Scoochie Smith at point guard.
“I just stayed aggressive and I’ve hit some shots in practice and I’m feeling well,” he said. “These guys believe in me, coach believes in me, so I knew my time was going to come.”
His teammates and coaches believe in him, but the fans didn’t — until Tuesday.
“I don’t pay much attention to what they say on social media,” he said. “Of course, it might get to me some day. But when I do see it I just get in the gym and work harder. I know my time will come and I’m not worried about what people are saying. Was tonight the answer to the critics? Of course, I just play. I love the game of basketball. There are a lot of ups and down in this game and everybody goes through it. It is just a step you have to get over.
“I understand we’re in the era of social media, an important way for people to voice their opinions. And there are people who still might not think I’m very good, even after this game, but I can’t dwell on that. I just stay confident and wait for my turn.”
And the ‘Standing O?’
“That felt great,” he said. “I love UD Arena, I love playing here — a lot of fans — so it is always great getting a standing ovation coming off the court, something I can get used to.”
Crosby grew up in strife-torn Baltimore, but he is so proud of his hometown that he has the city’s skyline tattooed across his chest and said, “I did it over the summer. Where’s Dayton? Right here in my heart.”
After he hit his second three during his 12-minutes splurge, he burst into a wide smile because it gave the Flyers a 60-47 lead, their biggest up to that point.
“I was just happy, man, I just love to play the game,” he said. “When you do well you show some emotion and my emotion is just to smile. I’m not into talking, I just want to play. Whether I’m doing well or I’m doing bad I just want to smile.”
Crosby’s eruption was needed because some of his more recognized teammates were suffering off nights. Kendall Pollard missed 48 hours of practice due to illness and he wasn’t himself — 4 of 13 shooting an 2 of 6 from the foul line.
Darrell Davis played some awesome defense, but was 0 for 5 from the floor — all five misses were threes. Charles Cooke was 5 for 12 shooting.
Scoochie Smith scored 16 to lead the Flyers, while Crosby scored 12, Xeyrius Williams scored 12, Cooke scored 12 and Pollard scored 10.
“That was my game,” said Crosby. “I made the right reads, I was comfortable, didn’t have any turnovers and had the feel for the game. It was one of my better games. It’s all the same. Whenever I warm up, I warm up the same, like I’m going to have a 30-point game.”
Like Crosby, Miller pays no attention to what fans think of Crosby.
“Everyone wants to make a little bit of a big deal (about Crosby’s struggles) but it is not a secret. You have to earn confidence by doing things in a game to give you confidence. John does some of the positive things you saw in practice and for whatever reason he hasn’t had the confidence. Part of the reason is opportunity and you have to get that opportunity.”
Maybe Crosby’s next tattoo will be the word, ‘Confidence’ scrawled across his back.