Flashback to the 2014 NCAA Tournament, where an injury plagued Flyer team entered the tournament as an at large 11 seed. Although they were heavy underdogs in each of their games against in-state rival Ohio State, Syracuse University, and Stanford University, the triumvirate of senior forward Devin Oliver, sophomore forward Dyshawn Pierre, and junior guard Jordan Sibert pushed them to close victories over all three schools. This was a historic moment, as the Dayton Flyers have reached the Elite 8 for only its third time in school history. It was then when the team who exceeded so many expectations were eliminated by number 1 seed Florida in the Elite 8. The Flyers lost two starters to graduation, as well as a third starter transferring in late spring, leaving many to expect a dismal season for 2014-2015. Another blow happened as forward Detwon Rogers was inactive all season due to a knee injury. More hits by the team were taken as the NCAA ruled incoming freshman, center Steve McElvane, ineligible to play in games. Two of the teams big men were dismissed from the team after being involved in a burglary case, and the teams back up point guard was shut down mid season due to concussions. Thus leaving the team with six scholarship players, and with no one over six feet, six inches tall for the latter half of the season. All eyes were then on team leaders Dyshawn Pierre and Jordan Sibert. The lineup was converged to a “small ball” gameplan, utilizing the quickness of the guards to drive to the hoop. This lineup forced other teams to use a similar gameplan, giving the upper hand to Dayton of course, as this was their only game plan. The Dayton Flyers finished 25-8 last year, even under the excruciating circumstances. Under the Archie Miller era, they had their best year defensively as they ranked 38th nationally in defensive efficiency. The team was invited as one of the First Four teams in the tournament, as Dayton was scheduled to face Boise State on their home court. Who else than Jordan Sibert to send the Flyers to the second round on a game winning three pointer. The Flyers make the second round of the tournament for the second year in a row, and Sibert was looking to make his mark. They were ousted by the Oklahoma Sooners in the third round, ending a spectacular makeshift season by the Flyers. Jordan Sibert had career best averages in points per game, rebound per game, and assists per game. Every year during his four year tenure, his marks have improved, and he truly was a viable asset that could be certainly hard to replace this year as Dayton looks to make the tournament for the third year in a row.
The Big Question then is: Who is willing to step up to take Jordan Sibert’s place?
Jordan Sibert averaged a career high 16.1 points per game, 3.3 rebound per game, and 2.0 assists per game. His leadership was unquestioned throughout the season, as he was arguably the Flyers’ best player. The Flyers have a lot of options on who to center their offense around. Many would look to Dyshawn Pierre and say he is primed to take the role. On the contrary, I believe junior Scoochie Smith is looking to step up even more so, as he averaged a solid 9.2 points per game, 3.1 rebounds per game, and 3.8 assists per game as a sophomore. Smith flashed signs of excellence in the 2014-2015 season, as he complemented Sibert well. There is strong belief that the Flyers could remain a guard heavy team and run in guard complemented sets since it worked so well in last years campaign. If that’s the case, it is good news for Scoochie as he flourished in Archie Miller’s “small ball” mindset. Once again, he was only a sophomore last year and his full potential has yet to be reached.
As soon as the Flyers find a successful replacement for Jordan Sibert, the team should be able to find themselves appearing in their third March Madness appearance in the last three years. In which they should have no trouble doing so since it was proven that they could succeed even without a player over six feet, six inches tall.