Game Notes: Dayton at Xavier
The streak continues.
by Eddie Maisonet, III
So there’s this streak you should know about…
Since 1981, the Xavier Musketeers have found a way to come out on top versus their rival from up north on I-75, the Dayton Flyers. Saturday night would not be any different. Xavier shot down their archrivals 81-76 at the Cintas Center and extended the three-decade long streak over the Flyers at home to 26 straight games.
Thirty years ago, Jimmy Carter was president. Thirty years ago, I wasn’t alive. This streak even makes Brett Favre blush.
If there was ever an opportunity for the streak to end, this was the one for Dayton. Xavier’s battled injuries to their core of the team and the Flyers had won 8 of their last 9 games, and with the Atlantic-10 conference being wide open the game had some additional weight outside of the Blackburn/McCafferty trophy.
What the fans in Cintas Center witnessed was a whirlwind game of back and forth where efficiency was on display. Both teams shot over 50 percent for the game, only 15 turnovers were committed, and featured 15 lead changes and 10 ties.
A couple of things to take away from this game…
-Tu Holloway was rocking the the new Nike Zoom Kobe 6′s. The snakeskin was looking real fresh in Xavier’s navy blue and white. “They felt good, it’s got good support even though it sits lower on my ankle,” Holloway said, speaking about rocking the 6′s. “Plus, Kobe’s my favorite player, and I wanted to show him some love tonight. Glad I wore them for the Dayton game too.” I personally am not a Kobe fan, but the silver, blue, and white 6′s that they gave Holloway are dope. Still wouldn’t wear ‘em though out of principle. LOL
-Interesting thought: this Xavier team reminds me of a poor man’s Kentucky of last year, just hear me out. With Tu Holloway assuming the John Wall playmaker role, Mark “Cheeks” Lyons reminds a lot of Eric Bledsoe. Playing out of position at the off-guard, its clear that Lyons is not an off-guard but he’s started to settle into his role. Uncle Jamel McLean definitely has a lot of Patrick Patterson’s game in him as McLean is lethal from 10-feet and in on the boards and buckets on the inside.Finally, the mercurial and loquacious big man Kenny Frease has a lot of Demarcus Cosuins in him. He might be as emo as Cousins (who in the world is more emo than Cousins?) but when the big man from Massillon plays strong and gives a full effort for an entire game, Xavier’s tough to beat. Throw in the long range capabilities of Dante Jackson that compare favorably to UK’s Darnell Dodson then the parallels become eerily similar. Now let’s be clear, this Xavier team is not nearly as good as last year’s UK team, but Xavier’s heavily reliant on their starting five and everyone has started to get comfortable in their roles. Now we just need coach Chris Mack to step his suit game up to Calipari’s $3,000 attire then we might really be onto something…
-Dayton gets up the floor, and they have a lot of guys that can run and have great balance as a team. However, with the known names of Chris Wright and Chris Johnson leading the way, Freshman Juwan Staten was the one who truly impressed me last night. He pushes the pace, distributes the ball quite well (his 6.4 assists/game leads the A-10), defends well, and has a real knack of getting to the rim. “I thought he was in control offensively tonight,” head coach Brian Gregory said, “he’s growing up before our eyes, and he played well in his first go round against a big rival.” Keep an eye on him this season, he’s gonna be a good one.
-”Uncle” Jamel McLean ladies and gentlemen. As of today, he is my favorite player on this Muskies’ squad. As I mentioned earlier, he does a lot of the dirty work for X. Seems like whenever he’s down low folks end of up on the ground, he’s muscling guys off the block, and the fisticuffs aren’t that far away. He’s not a dirty player though, dude just plays balls out. Reminds me of when I used to hoop at “The Patterson” aka Patterson Community Center in my hometown Lawton, Oklahoma. My buddy Mac’s Uncle Darrell used to always be there hooping it up. He’d always have that knee brace and had some type of extern accessory that seemed unnecessary. A headband, wristband…maybe even some rec-specs. Anyway, Uncle Darrell’s game was nothing but staying down low on the block, calling for the ball and pump faking you to death. If you didn’t fall for the pump fake, he’d use 17 different steps off the pivot foot, then lean on you with his chest and get him a bucket. I hated guarding him. When a rebound was up for grabs, Uncle Darrell would back you up with his backside and you’d fly across the court in agony. This is what I think about when I see Jamel McLean. Dude gets everything he has out of his body and he puts in work plain and simple. “A lot of my game is dependent on the guards,” said McLean. “I might not have 1000 post moves, but if I can use my athleticism in space we can do work.”
Eddie Maisonet is a freelance sports writer, blogger and big time hoops fan from Oklahoma who currently resides in Cincinnati. Keep up with Eddie at SLAMonline as well as his blog Ed The Sports Fan and on Twitter.