Dayton welcomed home an old friend, and a new adversary in Rhode Island coach, Archie Miller, Saturday…and reminded him and the struggling Rams of better times, and how things ‘used’ to be!
Dayton, OH – As far as homecomings go, former University of Dayton basketball coach Archie Miller’s return was a ‘Nightmare On Edwin C.Moses Boulevard.’
Miller left Dayton after taking the Flyers to four straight NCAA tournament appearances, including a trip to the Elite Eight. His re-appearance was Saturday afternoon in UD Arena with his University of Rhode Island team.
And while the Flyers Faithful gave him a warm welcome, the UD basketball team gave him basketball’s version of a frigid cold shoulder.
UD put on a shooting clinic to make William Tell put away his bow and arrows, a 96-62 mass destruction of Miller’s not-so-merry men.
The bare numbers: The Flyers 15-2, most likely provided evidence for advancement in the Associated Press poll from their No. 21 spot. They won 12 straight and are 5-and-0 on the Atlantic 10 Conference.
This one can be explained in 25 words or less. The Flyers started the game with an 11-0 say hello to the Rams. And they opened the second half with another 11-0 start.
That’s a 22-0 worksheet, a 22-point advantage that led to the 34-point win.
How bad was it? DaRon Holmes II took his 21 points to the bench with 14 minutes left in the game, never to show his face again.
Walk-on Brady Uhl, awarded a scholarship last week, entered the game with 6 1/2 minutes left and buried two three-pointers, show that evoked the loudest cheers of the day from the 13,407.
“He does that to us all the time in practice,” said Holmes. “We know Brady can do that. He’se a great player and it was great to see that.”
Sean Miller, Archie’s brother and Xavier coach, was in attendance and the bored Red Scare student section began chanting, “We want Xavier, we want Xavier.”
Miller was thoroughly impressed by the Flyers.
“They are one of the best teams in the country,” said Miller. “We knew coming in the first four to eight minutes was really, really, really going to be important. Nothing more important than the first four minutes.”
For the first three minutes, it looked as if Rhode Island was playing with blindfolds on, waiting for a cigarette and an up-against-the-wall-execution.
Actually, the Rams executed themselves. While the Flyers made four of their first five shots, two of three from behind the arc, Rhode Island didn’t hit the rim – two wild shots didn’t brush the iron. So, it was 11-0 before the student section began chanting, “Archie, Archie, Archie.”
And so it went as UD hit 33 of 59 shots (56.9%), 16 of 27 from three (59.3%).
Javon Bennett, enshrouded in a bit of a shooting slump lately, hit 8 of 9 shots, 4 of 5 from three, to lead the Flyers with 22 points.
“We get a chance to see (Javon) every day,” said UD coach Anthony Grant. “He is one of the best shooters we have, one of the best in the country.
Shooters shoot and he’s a guy that has a lot of confidence and we have a lot of confidence in him. It was just a matter of time before the ball started to go in.”
Said the 5-foot-10 Bennett, if he is standing on a milking stool, “My teammates and my coaches have confidence in me and tell me to shoot the ball. Just one of those nights when I was able to hit most of my shots.”
All but one.
Koby Brea, the kid with the statue-like shooting style, a form that would earn straight 10s from all judges, made his first four threes and finished five of seven for 15 off-the-bench points.
There were no good omens for the Rams, who rode to the Arena on a Miller Lines bus and played a player named Always Wright.
The only (w)right player for Rhode Island was guard Jaden House. He scored 27 of Rhodie’s 62. A couple of other Rams scored eight each and that was it.
“When you play a team of this quality, the way they spread you out and to have DaRon Holmes on the inside and can do both, it really puts a lot of pressure on you,” said Miller. “You have to play really well.
“A terrific team, having a fantastic year and I expect them to go a long way.” Miller added.
If Miller could say it, he probably wishes he had never packed his bags and departed for Indiana University, where he didn’t last long enough to meet his neighbors.
Of his reception by the Flyer Faithful, Miller said. “This place…being in here is second to none. I’m grateful and I always will be. These people gave me a chance.
“I’ll always be indebted (to UD), but if you ask that after you get your ass kicked like you got your ass kicked today, it might make you change your mind on the way out, right?” he said with a smile.
“I appreciate the fans here, they’re fantastic,” he said. “I didn’t expect anything less than first class. That’s what this place is all about. It’s a hard place to play, I knew that, and they’ve got a great team.”
After expressing appreciation for the job Miller did at UD, and after destroying him and his team in every way possible, Grant heaped praise on his Flyers.
“We started both halves on 11-0 runs, the ball moved…we had 24 assists on 33 baskets and only two turnovers.,” he said. “That’s a great job of sharing the ball and taking care of the ball.”
In addition to his 22 points, Bennett had five assists and played point guard 25 minutes without a turnover. Kobe Elvis had six assists.
“We went out there and did what we’re supposed to do, took care of business.” said Holmes. “I think, arguably, we’re the best shooting team in the country. That’s what we do, that’s what we work on a lot.”
So are the Flyers getting proper national attention, even with their No. 21 national ranking?
“That’s a really good question. We really don’t know.” said Holmes. “All we know is we do what we can and do what we can control. We’re doing a pretty good job of that. If people don’t believe in us, we’re going to believe in ourselves.
We’ve done a good job of handling adversity and prosperity.” said Holmes. “Right now is the prosperity part. Things are going great…so we have to lock in and make sure we keep our focus.”
Miller called the Flyers on of the best teams in the country and Holmes said, “I definitely agree, but I’ll let Javon answer it.”
Bennett agrees. “We try not to let the outside noise affect what were doing. I agree with what Archie said. Particularly the way we’re playing. It shows the work we’ve put in.”
The road gets tougher for the Flyers and it is the road. Their next two games are on the road. Tuesday at LaSalles, a tough place to play because the gym is a half-step above a dump. Then it is on to Richmond Saturday for a first-place showdown with the Spiders.