The Red/Blue scrimmage for the University of Dayton men’s basketball team gave a familiar feeling of walking into UD Arena and reaffirmed basketball season is here on Saturday, Oct. 19.
This first public opportunity to see the team in action gives fans a chance to see a more polished product than in years past because of the new NCAA rule allowing teams to begin practice as far as 42 days in advance of its first game.
While the full effects of this move will be realized weeks from now when the regular season opens, it already appears to have improved the quality of play.
Head coach Archie Miller said it was a big factor in the way he views his team. Practice would normally be starting just days before when the game was played.
“It never looks good, but I was happy to watch our guys come off 13 practices and try to do what we asked them to do,” Miller said. “It was good to get out here. They need to get out in front of some people and they need to get out here and get winded so we can show the film and we can take the next step.”
One thing most fans come to see during the opening scrimmages and exhibitions is the newcomers.
The three most mentioned players I took notice of during the scrimmage were sophomore forward Devon Scott, freshman guard Dayshon “Scoochie” Smith and freshman guard Kyle Davis.
Scott looks like an early favorite for most improved player with his play during both halves, particularly in the second. He tied for game highs with 14 points and five rebounds, playing for both sides.
Scott put together a string of surprising jump shots, and sunk a pair from just inside the three-point line. He played a well-rounded game, with a strong rebounding effort, a lean in move over defenders with newfound balance and vision from the post to find teammates open on the perimeter.
In the offseason, he went up 25 pounds in weight, and an inch in height. He called himself a “legit 6’9’’” during the team’s Sept. 28 media day session.
Smith, coming out of high school as a top-125 recruit according to Rivals.com, gave fans a glimpse of such talent.
Early in the first half of the scrimmage, Smith made a couple of plays showing off his capabilities. On a two-on-one fast break, Smith showed little hesitation attempting an alley-oop to redshirt senior guard Vee Sanford, but put it behind Sanford’s leap. Later, with senior guard Brian Vonderhaar lined up in front of him, Smith made a stutter step move before stepping back behind the three-point line and draining a shot.
Davis did his work on the other side of the ball, twice stripping Sanford and going the distance in transition, including a nice ball recovery after nearly stumbling over on his way down the court.
Senior forward Devin Oliver said just getting on the court again at UD Arena felt good.
“Just getting the fans a quick chance to see what the team is looking like,” Oliver said. “Having people watch you again was fun.”
It’s going to be fun for fans as time goes on as well, as even with the score being kept and a winner declared, they will be the real winners in getting to see a better product earlier in the season.