By: Steven Wright – Sports Editor
A second consecutive season with a poor start to Atlantic 10 Conference play has the University of Dayton men’s basketball team searching for answers.
“We’re really struggling right now to get off the mat,” head coach Archie Miller told WHIO radio after a loss to the University of Rhode Island, Saturday, Jan. 25. “… We’re a little bit stunned that teams are coming out and playing really well against us.”
One win through the team’s first five A-10 games has left it looking toward the defensive side of ball for a pick-me-up. The total points UD allowed in each conference game gradually rose from 67 to 88.
“[You] kind of have to learn, and try not to dwell on what’s been going on,” sophomore forward Dyshawn Pierre said.
“It’s early in the conference season, so we have to put that stuff behind us and focus on the next couple games coming up and take them one by one.”
Schedule makers have unintentionally been unkind to UD the last two years as well.
Dayton began A-10 play last season with three straight losses against teams who went on to finish second, third and fourth in the conference. This season, UD’s first four losses in the conference came to teams who heading into games on Wednesday, Jan. 29, ranked first, two in a tie for second and eighth.
Miller said the biggest problems he has seen include the team’s intensity level and its on-court communication having slipped, which he attributed to a possible loss of self-confidence.
“We have some individual guys who have let their individual play, or maybe even the fact that we’ve lost a couple games here, really take us back,” Miller said. “When you’re paralyzed by confidence, the first thing that really starts to happen is, ‘what’s wrong with me?’ When you have four or five guys saying, ‘what’s wrong with me?’, the first thing that goes very quickly is ‘we.’”
Positives still exist for UD, entering Wednesday’s game against Saint Joseph’s University with the fourth highest averaging scoring total in the league at 75.6 points per game, and having the highest team field goal percentage at 47.9 percent.
Pierre said the team’s main goal is to get its play back to where it was earlier this season. UD went 12-3 during its non-conference schedule, and had a successful showing in the EA Sports Maui Invitational, taking third place.
The team that competed in Maui still exists and is the one they want to be again, according to Pierre.
“We just have to get our teammates back together and make sure we just play for each other and play hard every game,” he said. “Sometimes, we get a little lackadaisical on the court and we just have to get back to playing hard again.
“We have a lot of games left, and we can make a big run here.”