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What Exactly Does Dayton Need to Do to Crack the Top 25?

Mid-November polls probably don't matter a whole lot to coaches or players. They likely have little bearing on a team's success come March and honestly, coaches should probably be more concerned about meeting performance goals rather than what some collection of outsiders thinks of them.

However, it's not exactly clear to me how or why the University of Dayton has been left out of the Top 25 in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Polls.

En route to a 3-0 record at the Purdue University Basketball Travelers Invitational Classic, the Dayton Flyers beat the host Purdue team (then-) ranked #23 in the ESPN/USA Today Poll at 56-53 and a Georgetown team that received votes in the same poll 62-59.

Prior to that they lost to #19 University of Louisville by two and beat a #10 ranked Michigan State University by three.

And yet they are unranked in either poll while Michigan State remains at #25 in both polls and Louisville got more votes in the ESPN/USA Today poll.

Perhaps one close game against a ranked opponent could be dismissed as a fluke or a convenient mismatch…but three close wins against quality opponents and a close loss are hard to dismiss, even if it’s early in the season.

What more could they possibly do to prove themselves worthy of a ranking?

Overwhelm Seattle University?

Obviously, I suggest that somewhat facetiously in response to the fact that Dayton is not yet ranked – clearly beating an 0-5 Seattle U team is not sufficient to warrant inclusion in the Top 25. And clearly there is a limit to the amount of insight that can be gained about Dayton from a statistical analysis of a game against an undersized team that’s still missing key players and is struggling to make shots thus far in the regular season.

Nevertheless, consider the following tweet from Seattle U coach Joan Bonvicini after their 75-37 loss to Dayton on Sunday at the Purdue University Basketball Travelers Invitational Classic:

"Our Redhawks had a very good 2nd half yesterday vs. Georgetown. Today was a different story...Dayton showed us what it takes to be good."

Seattle U not only had a "very good 2nd half" against Georgetown, but they also won the second half 38-27 and shot 60.9% from the field. They were able to at least compete in spurts with both Georgetown University and Purdue in their two other losses this weekend.

Dayton never gave them a chance.

Certainly Dayton grabbing 52% of the offensive rebounds available was part of the story, but Georgetown similarly grabbed 56% against Seattle U (60.94% in the first half). That Dayton held the Redhawks to 28.3% shooting is also impressive, but they only shot 22.4% against Concordia College a week prior. Dayton’s 57.1% field goal percentage in the first half is also outstanding, but they fell back down to earth in the second half shooting 40.7%.

However, what really stood out is Seattle U’s free throw rate: 3 for 4 for the game and 0-0 in the first half. That’s correct – Dayton did not give up a free throw for the entire first 20 minutes of the game.

While getting to the free throw line is not the most important of Dean Oliver’s Four Factors, not getting to the free-throw line is cause for alarm (or celebration, depending on one’s perspective).

Even against a struggling opponent, it’s a rather remarkable defensive feat to hold them to 32.1% shooting for 20 minutes and only foul four times, three of which were committed by 5’5" guard Aundrea Lindsey.

The fact that Seattle U was neither able to draw a foul in the act of shooting nor force a bonus situation while committing five forced turnovers means that Dayton played coordinated, disciplined, stifling defense and forced difficult scoring opportunities. Perhaps the difficulty in creating scoring opportunities is even better illustrated by Seattle U’s 4-20 shooting from the three point line -- they were clearly settling for lower percentage shots.

Of course, you may still be rolling your eyes at Dayton’s dominance of a transitioning Division I team that is still going through "growing pains" as Bonvicini described it in another tweet. Dayton is obviously much stronger right now.

"We really showed how good we can play as a team. At any given moment we can have a different player step up. We really have a lot of weapons on this team and it should be a fun year."

But the way Dayton dominated Seattle U says something about how good -- and how deep -- they are.

And isn’t that exactly what we would expect of the nation’s best teams– to thoroughly dominate the teams that they’re "supposed to beat"?

Transition Points:

  • Although it might be tempting to dismiss Purdue as overrated after their 1-2 performance at a tournament they hosted, consider the circumstances:

    Georgetown's waves wash Purdue away | | Journal and Courier
    When this tournament was scheduled, Versyp was counting on having sophomores Chantel Poston and Alex Guyton. Both are out with injuries.

    "We knew Georgetown would cause us some problems," Versyp said. "You have to have a deep bench against a team like that because they force you into trying to play an uptempo game. I give them credit but we only have five healthy players."

    Joining the team's injured list are freshman Sam Ostarello, who is battling an illness, and fifth-year senior guard Jodi Howell, who is dealing with sore knees.

    It's difficult to win games without your full complement of players.
  • Update: The description of the game from Seattle U's website speaks volumes about why Dayton is so successful thus far this season.

    SeattleU Women's Basketball to Host Sacramento State in Midweek Matchup - Seattle University Redhawks Athletics
    The Dayton offense dominated play and their defense prevented the Redhawks from creating solid scoring opportunities throughout the contest. The Flyers were consistently aggressive and made their presence known. Leading the UD charge were Justine Ratterman and Elle Queen, who each had 12 points on the day. The Flyers' outrebounded SeattleU 45-24 and shot 50.0 percent in the game. Amidst a flurry of Dayton baskets, SU's offense struggled to set their plays and find open lanes between the Flyer post players. With each missed opportunity to score by Seattle, UD was there to capitalize on it. They scored 18 points on SU's 25 turnovers.