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Hot Seat?
Hot Seat?
John Mad Dog Churan
Published by John C.
03-27-2008
Hot Seat?

CHANDLER (AZ) -- As a voting member of the “I think the Flyers are Going to Win the National Championship in Men’s Basketball” fraternity, this year was again disappointing. One of the few advantages of age (as I hobble around on a sprained knee that still hasn’t healed after four weeks) is the fact that I can actually remember when the Flyers were just 40 minutes away from a national championship. Sadly, that 40 minutes seemed like it took 40 hours. It has been a long time since, 41 years to be exact.

With the season just completed, there were certainly strides made. With the injury to Chris Wright and his loss of play during that time, not only was the team worse, he did not have the chance to mature as a basketball player. That injury alone cost UD a trip to the NCAA Tournament.

That doesn’t change the fact that UD did not get the invitation. If memory serves me correctly, you have to be invited to the NCAA Tournament to actually have an opportunity to win that national championship. Since that journey to the finals, UD has had 8 opportunities to make it back (1 in the 60’s, 2-70’s, 2-80’s, 1-90’s and 2-00’s.) Amazing that in those 41 years, the Flyers have not gone more than twice in any decade. Frustrating, to say the least.

We have entered a time when, “What have you done for me lately?” is the battle cry of most sports fans. As a result, there are a number of UD fans that have questioned if Brian Gregory is or should be on the hot seat. I am going to try to answer that and other questions as if I actually know something.

Q--Will UD ever win a National Championship?

A—No. The only thing that could change that is if they become part of a top conference which is not likely under the current level of football importance. They made the mistake of being bad at the wrong time or they could have been part of the biggest conference in the world, the Big East. As we all know, the level of basketball played in the Big East is far superior to that played in the A-10 due to their inclusion of eight teams into the Big Dance. Never mind the fact that the A-10 more than held their own against the Big East in the pre conference schedule. Never mind that UD beat two of the top teams in the league and earned the NIT because of it.

Q—Will UD ever be a regular in the NCAA Tournament?

A—Possibly, but Brian Gregory needs to do a number of things better for that to happen. In the five years he has been head coach, UD has made it in one time and we all know that was with a stacked team that Oliver Purnell left behind. It was also a team that did not do as well as virtually the same team did the year before.

Before UD can become a regular, Gregory will have to change the way that they are perceived. There are only two teams that are from the non-BCS conferences that get in every year if they win their conference or not and that is Xavier and Gonzaga. The Selection Committee obviously uses the rules to put in whomever they want. What you do during the season can either be used against you or for you depending on how they perceive your team (name). An RPI of 50 for one team is death, for another it doesn’t matter. A terrible record against the top 50 can kill your chances or it can be ignored. A good run over three or four days (ala St. Joes) can get you in despite sub par references. Injuries can be used as an excuse as to why you did poorly or why you just aren’t any good.

A school (not team) has to be viewed as top tier by the committee to have things looked at favorably. Dayton is not one of those teams. Don’t tell me that UD lost 9 out of 16. They actually lost 9 out of 29. It is all in how you look at the numbers, or should I say, how you want to look at the numbers.

Q—Is Brian Gregory on the hot seat?

A—Nope, not per Ted Kissell and he is the only guy that counts.

Q—If you just looked at the results, should Gregory be on the hot seat?

A—Yes. Four years with no NCAA is not acceptable when you have a player like Brian Roberts. After five years of being a head coach, Gregory should not be making the kind of coaching mistakes that he makes (this is from a guy that got fired from coaching his intramural work basketball team.) When you can’t get the ball in against the press, you do not stand around waiting for the defense to set up after a made shot. You do not put five guys on the floor that can’t score. You do not have a team shoot barely over 50% from the free throw line when you take out the contributions of your two best shooters. You cannot consistently lose to your biggest rival and survive. Anybody familiar with Michigan and Ohio State football? If you look at his recruiting classes thus far, he has not had a winner. He has had some very good players, but never two in one class.

Do I think UD got the shaft this year? Without a doubt. However, losing to teams that are far inferior to you has to be placed squarely on the shoulders of the coaching staff. One more win and we are not having this conversation.

Q—So why isn’t Gregory on the hot seat?

A—Actually a multitude of reasons exist. First and foremost, he represents the University as it should be represented. He does it with class either win or lose. He has done a great job with the students and alumnae. He is very visible in the community and has done some wonderful things.

I really believe that Kissell wants him to succeed. We all know Gregory’s warts. When you bring in someone new, you really don’t know all of their warts. Is it worth the risk?

More than anything, though, I believe the recruits that he has coming in next year and the two that have verbally committed mean more than all of that. Let’s not kid ourselves. Gregory needs to win and win more than he has. However, it does appear that he continues to get better on the sideline and certainly the level of recruiting seems to be improving. Of course, I drank that Kool Aid before. I truly believe if there was a dud recruiting class coming in, Gregory might be feeling some real heat.

Q—Will this team be better next year?

A—Hard to believe that they will be better than what was on the floor this year. The loss of Roberts will be hard to ignore. Certainly Johnson and Wright showed signs of greatness at times, but because they are young, consistency is always an issue. They will have to step up next year because counting on freshmen is a mistake. The real problem comes from the point guard position.

This will be Gregory’s fifth recruiting class. In that time, he has recruited a handful of point guards, most notably Trent Meacham, London Warren, Andres Sandoval and Stephan Thomas. I’m still waiting for that first difference maker to show up. Meacham would have been a good serviceable point guard in UD’s system, probably the best of the group. No need to go into his leaving, but he ended up being a shooting guard on a mediocre team. Sandoval was more of a hope than a fact at the point and ended up playing more small forward than point guard (tell me how those mix.) Thomas played 123 minutes this year and had 4 assists. I have never seen a point guard do so little as he didn’t even turn the ball over much. He basically caught it and passed it around the horn. Too early to tell, but no real signs of potential difference making.

Warren has gotten plenty of playing time and plays great on the defensive side of the court. However, on offense he is a disaster. He averages one assist every 10 minutes and commits more turnovers than creates assists. I had hoped at the beginning of the season he would continue his development and be the answer. He did not and is not. Defenses back off of his 44% shooting because he has a range of two feet. If platoons were used in basketball, he would be a star.

Unless someone leaves and Gregory brings in a JC point guard, be ready to be disappointed again next year. There were actually a number of people on this site that believed that Roberts was a good point guard. That in itself should tell you that it has been so long since we have seen a good point guard, we can’t even recognize one.

For a guy that earned a scholarship playing the point position, I am amazed at Gregory’s inability to successfully recruit one. Until he does (two years from now) we will all be agonizing on Selection Sunday.


I hope this clears up any misconceptions about Brian Gregory and his future at the University of Dayton. If Chris Wright hadn’t gotten injured, we might all be talking about how we can keep Gregory here with all the big schools calling. It is strange how one little broken bone can change the perception of an individual. Personally, I’m glad he’s staying. I think he brings more positives than negatives. In addition, I really believe (this time) we are on the road to success. Let’s just hope that there are two or more winners in this incoming class.
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  #1  
By San Diego Flyer on 03-27-2008, 04:22 PM
I think his biggest failing has been an inability to field a "balanced" team so far. And to take it a little farther, also an inability to field "balanced" players. No need to name them one-by-one with this audience.

But I agree with all your answers. BG is not going anywhere. And in TK's eyes the start AND finish in this season are the reasons why. 14-1 with a healthy team. And a 6-2 finish with 6 of the 8 away from home, and against 5 tournament teams.
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  #2  
By UDBrian on 03-27-2008, 04:26 PM
Nice article John. I agree on most counts but I disagree that a national championship is not possible. If you get to the tournament you have a chance. The best team doesn't always win, it is the team that plays the best for a short stretch...
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  #3  
By Dirty Sanchez on 03-27-2008, 04:51 PM
can't argue with a thing he said
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  #4  
By John C. on 03-27-2008, 06:25 PM
UDBrian,

I would like to agree with you on the national championship possibility, but I just don't see it happening. Memphis is the one team that could pull it off. However, I just don't believe that all of those players would have come to UD for whatever reason. As good as xavier has been over the years, I really don't think they have been close to national championship caliber. Gonzaga can't play when the tournament comes to town. I just can't see us gtting six games where we play 100+% and that is what it would take.
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  #5  
By UACFlyer on 03-27-2008, 08:31 PM
National championship not our goal...

Everyone knows that winning a national championship requires three things, at least: 1. a very good team; 2. playing your best BB over a specific 2-3 week period; 3. LUCK,....and plenty of it.

Item 3 cannot be over emphasized. Rarely does the "best" team win the title.

UD's stated goal is to consistently field a team that is in a position to compete for the national championship. The wording is important. "Consistently" means not once in a lifetime;....but, something on the order of 4-5 times in a decade. The word "compete" is important. To be in a position to compete for the title the team has to be in the NCAA tournament. So, another way to interpret our goal is to say that we strive to be in the Dance on a reasonably consistent basis, again, on the order of 4-5 times a decade, about half the time.

Finally, just making the Dance doesn't put you in a position to compete for the title. But, teams that get through the first two games can claim that they are competing for the title, along with 15 others.

Thus, our goal is to become a regular in the Dance and to play our way deep into the tournament, i.e., to be among the Sweet 16.

Is that reasonable? Of course! Two teams in TK's defined peer group have accomplished it, Xavier and Villanova. Xavier is in the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row, if memory serves me; and Villanova has made the Sweet 16 three out of last four years. Neither has won the title over that period; neither has made the Final Four, again, if memory serves. But, by any reasonable measure XU and VU are highly successful programs on a consistent basis. They have earned national recognition and are positioned among the nation's elite programs. Indeed, they have achieved our goal,....with no more in the way of resources or institutional commitment.

We can do it. The nagging question that haunts me is why we are having such a struggle in view of how very hard we try.
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  #6  
By UDBrian on 03-28-2008, 12:44 PM
The other thing that factors in is the matchups with each team. You could have a great team that struggles against big post players in a physical game. If you draw one of those teams you could be out in the first round. If you don't draw a team with a big physical post guy you might go all the way. Every team has a weakness and the luck of the draw can impact your chances.

John Wooden said that the expansion to 64 teams makes it more difficult because it is harder to play really well for six straight games. That is why great defense, free throws and turnovers are important. Even when you aren't playing your best on offense those items give you a chance to win.
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  #7  
By Fudd on 03-30-2008, 01:34 AM
I disagree with a lot of what you wrote, an awful lot. But one thing that I think that gets stated a lot around here, without people really looking at the stats, is how London made some progress this year. He actually creates more assists per minutes than anyone on the team for the Flyers. And assists are not easy to come by on a team that relies on slashing to the basket for offense rather than jump shots. He averages 4.17 assists per 40 minute period played. Roberts was 3.97, Burrell was 4.73, and Lavender 5.84. And I know the next thing you are going to say, "Look at his assist to turnover ratio!". Take a look at his assist to turnover ratio in the first 19 games and compare it to the last 15 games. He made a dramatic improvement to a respectable ratio. His shooting is his only problem in my eyes.
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  #8  
By Chris R on 03-30-2008, 02:15 AM
I dont think the question is 'was there improvement'. i think the question is, 'was there enough improvement for a junior-to-be starting point guard at an institution with aspirations for making it to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.'

the rest of you can try to answer it while i step aside.
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  #9  
By Fudd on 03-30-2008, 03:47 AM
Originally Posted by Chris R View Post
I dont think the question is 'was there improvement'. i think the question is, 'was there enough improvement for a junior-to-be starting point guard at an institution with aspirations for making it to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.'

the rest of you can try to answer it while i step aside.
This is what I was addressing with my reply:

He averages one assist every 10 minutes and commits more turnovers than creates assists. I had hoped at the beginning of the season he would continue his development and be the answer. He did not and is not.
I would write that last line as "He did, but is not". He obviously has to shoot to be the guy to take us to the second week of the tournament. I certainly agree with that.
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  #10  
By John C. on 03-30-2008, 10:42 AM
Fudd,

If you remember, at the beginning of the season I wrote an article where I really praised Warren and stated that the season would be a success if he continued his improvement. I really hoped that would be the case, it just didn't happen. Was he better at the end of the season, you bet. However, I cannot feel comfortable with him being the quarterback of this team and I can't understand how you can. He is consistantly out of control. He shoots 44% from the field when he only takes layups. He drives the lane with nowhere to go and the best thing that happens is that he gets fouled and we all know what happens when he gets to the line.

I love his defense and I love his hustle at all costs attitude, I just can't see us being successful with him playing 30 minutes a game.
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  #11  
By Fudd on 03-30-2008, 12:07 PM
I'm not comfortable with him as our starting pg next year. But he does bring some intriguing things to the team, and did make some strides of improvement this year. So, even though I think it is unlikely that he can help us with extended range on his shooting next year, I didn't see zero improvement in his game this year. I hear a lot of people talk about how out of control he is, and how bad his passing/ pg distribution skills are, but I think he made big strides there. I think those things are being exaggerated to go along with the fact that nobody likes his shooting skills.

I am one who firmly believes we need to find a good or servicable JUCO pg or next year, but there is an outside shot that London gets enough of a shot to be effective for us next year, IMO. My only critique of what you wrote is with respect to his assists and assist to turnover ratio. I was a bit stunned when I reviewed his numbers from the last 15 games. I don't think a lot of people have noticed his improved play with respect to assists and turnovers.
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  #12  
By John C. on 03-30-2008, 12:39 PM
I see what you say Fudd, but I really can't get excited about a 36/31 ratio. He may be all we have so until something else happens, we will have to both root for the same guy. I just don't think he can handle the pressure when he is thought of as the guy to bring the ball up the court. You have to remember that he might have been the point, but Roberts often handled the pressure when it was full court.
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  #13  
By Fudd on 03-30-2008, 03:39 PM
A few other things that make it difficult for me to cut off support to him completely:

2.88 steals/40 min

6.28 rebounds/40 min

Those are two crazy-good stats in favor of London. He is truly one of the most unusual skill sets I have ever seen for the Flyers. His strengths and weaknesses are extreme.

Regardless of how much we like him or dislike him, somebody else will be getting significant minutes at the pg position next year. London will take himself out of some games with fouls.

5.64 fouls/40 min
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  #14  
By The Fat Tuna on 04-03-2008, 02:45 PM
Let's be honest here...the people who don't like London don't like him because he can't shoot and he is a little out of control. However, if you knew a little bit about basketball you would know that LW rebounds and defends. I hate how the same people will say you have to rebound and defend in the tournament and turn around and bash Warren because he lacks a jump shot.

I saw vast improvements from the beginning of the year in terms of him being in control. Yes, he still has work to do in this area. But hey, if he can push the ball, makes some plays I can handle a crazy pass now and then.

Why is the jump shot so important? We aren't looking for him to be a scorer next year are we? This baffles me. If he can shoot then great, but he doesn't. The kid from Drake this year was an all league point guard in the MVC and attempted about 5 threes all year...and he probably has half the defensive talent that LW.

Mark my word...by the time LW is a senior you will be saying that you knew he would be great all along John C.
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  #15  
By John C. on 04-03-2008, 05:02 PM
Warren doesn't have to be able to hit a three. The inability to hit anything but a layup is the problem. I hope you are right because I just don't see how we can succeeed with him at the point for 30 minutes. It basically becomes 4 on 5 on the offensive end. If he had a good assist/turnover ratio I could put up with it, but he doesn't. When he does drive and gets fouled, there is a 50/50 chance he will misswhen he gets to the line. Do you really think he will be in the game at crunch time when we have a 5 point lead with one minute to go? Who takes out their point guard because they are afraid he will have to go to the line?
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  #16  
By Avid Flyer on 04-03-2008, 08:25 PM
Originally Posted by John C. View Post
Warren doesn't have to be able to hit a three. The inability to hit anything but a layup is the problem. I hope you are right because I just don't see how we can succeeed with him at the point for 30 minutes. It basically becomes 4 on 5 on the offensive end. If he had a good assist/turnover ratio I could put up with it, but he doesn't. When he does drive and gets fouled, there is a 50/50 chance he will misswhen he gets to the line. Do you really think he will be in the game at crunch time when we have a 5 point lead with one minute to go? Who takes out their point guard because they are afraid he will have to go to the line?
A little strong there aren't we John C "can't hit anything but a layup..." gee who was it that hit that trey....nothing but net. Problem is he doesn't try to shoot often enough but we have all seen him hit one now and then. There was nothing wrong with his form on that trey so maube its more mental or just that he would rather dish and get the assist then be the hero. With BRob not there next year who knows who will step up. Obviously the players realize someone or two have to so why not LW. At this point I don't really expect him to be the starter at point as we have not yet seen the incoming players or who will improve from the returning players. But we will have a different offense next year that we can bank on. No BRob to double or triple team, more balanced attact, imo.
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  #17  
By Flyer'95 on 04-10-2008, 01:44 PM
So far in his career, i think london warren is a 50/50 player. For every good thing he does on D, he undoes it on O. He has a lot of positives as a defensive player. But he has so far to go as an offensive player that i gotta believe there's a better fulltime option out there.

If BG really let the kids run, then maybe, maybe LW could suffice. But just barely. His decision making is a fundamental problem. And just because he's hit about 4 outside shots in two years (at least two were banked in), it doesn't mean he has a good shot. His lack of a shot ensures that his mere presence on the court will handcuff our offense and force us to shoot over teams who will likely just back off and pack it in. So far, i wouldn't put much money on us being able to shoot our way out of anything.

He's a liability at the freethrow line as well, and as a PG, that is absolutely, positively unacceptable. It will mean that every lead that we've earned will likely be taken away in the closing minutes (ala memphis).

And just because he's the best passer/minute on this team that doesn't mean he's a good passer. Yes, he has potential. But his decision making negates many of his possibilities. On top of that, we are a HORRIBLE, repeat, HORRIBLE passing team. We only had 5 kids on the team this year who had more assists than turnovers. Three of them are graduating, one was mickey perry who had a very small sample size, and the other is Charles Little who had only three more assists than TO's. And even he is being rumored to transfer. That doesn't help me sleep at night.

BG's lack of solutions at the point is a colossal failure of his tenure here. It has cost us possibly two trips to the NCAA and wasted four years of one of the best players to ever don a flyer uniform in brian roberts.

London Warren, in current form, is not the answer. And unless he makes some crazy deal with the devil, his play next year will get us to about .500. I'm not sure we can stand this much more. I agree that BG is bringing in the talent. But is there anything more frustrating than watching talent get wasted?
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