To preview this afternoon's Puerto Rico Tip-Off third place game between the Boston College Eagles and Dayton Flyers, we caught up with Parks Smith of the SB Nation blog Mid-Major Madness. Our questions and Parks' answers below.
BC Interruption: Obviously last year was one of the most successful seasons in team history. Do you think the Flyers can maintain that success not only this year but going forward?
Mid-Major Madness: Coming into the season I wasn't a firm believer in Dayton this year in our preview of the Atlantic 10 and our Mid-Major Madness 15 Power Rankings. Thus far the Flyers have looked pretty good. Jordan Sibert is obviously the leader of this team but I think the future looks good for Archie Miller with a lot of talented sophomores and freshmen on his roster.
BCI: How has the loss of Devin Oliver changed the team? Which players have stepped up in his place as far as a leadership role?
MMM: Dyshawn Pierre is still playing at a high level, averaging over 14 points and 7 boards per game, but I think sophomore Kendall Pollard has really helped to supplement the loss of Oliver. Pollard, a 6'6 forward, had 15 points and 7 rebounds versus UConn and I know he made a lot of people start to notice him.
BCI: Aside from Jordan Sibert and Dyshawn Pierre who has impressed you early on this season?
MMM: I'm a big Scoochie Smith fan and he has continued to impress me. I thought he'd be more of a scoring presence but he has a nice line this year with basically 6 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds per game. Kyle Davis has also been impressive alongside Smith in the backcourt, but he had a pretty tough outing against UConn this week.
BCI: What are the biggest strengths for Dayton this year? Weaknesses?
MMM: The strength is definitely the backcourt with everyone I just mentioned. The Flyers' biggest weakness is in the paint. Matt Kavanaugh wasn't a stat sheet stuffer but I think Dayton really misses what he brought to the court. Basically the Flyers really don't have any size in the interior beyond 6'9 Devon Scott, who has gone missing a bit after the Flyers' opener versus Alabama A&M.
BCI: What do the Eagles need to focus on in order to be successful?
MMM: I think BC needs to just keep doing what they're doing. I've watched the Eagles play both UMass and New Mexico this year and they look like a much more competitive team. BC definitely has the size advantage with Will Maggarity and Dennis Clifford, maybe those two can get going to give the Flyers some trouble.
BCI: VCU is probably the clear favorite, but do you see the Flyers competing for the A-10 title this year?
MMM: Dayton can definitely be a factor but there are certainly a lot of good teams in the A10 with VCU, Richmond, George Washington, UMass, and even Saint Louis has been an early surprise. I don't think VCU is going to run away with the conference like some think and I really think it'll be a slugfest that Dayton will certainly have a factor in.
BCI: How has last years success affected recruiting?
MMM: I really haven't seen any shocking signings since the Flyers made their run last year. Archie Miller is still getting very nice 3-star recruits who fit his system and are from their recruiting hot spots. There certainly hasn't been a tremendous spike like you've seen at VCU.
BCI: Finally, who do you have winning and why?
MMM: This tournament games are always pretty wacky but I'll take Dayton 67-61.
For more on Dayton and the A-10, check out Parks Smith's work over at Mid-Major Madness.