Flyer Prospectus Part 1: The Guards

Welcome to the 2007-2008 Flyer Basketball season! Clearly we have a few months before the season begins, but it's never too early to talk Flyer hoops. As this is my first column, allow me to quickly introduce myself. My name is Drew Formentini and I'm a Senior at UD. I was a manager for the Flyers two years ago and have a good feel for the program as a whole.

I'll do my best to provide you, the readers, insight based on my conversations with coaches, players and press conferences. Should you have any comments, questions or concerns, please feel free to e-mail me. Enjoy and Go Flyers!

As the Flyers prepare for the upcoming school year, fall workouts are about to begin to help prepare the Flyers for a successful season. Dayton Insider had a chance to speak to Assistant Coach Billy Schmidt to get a feel for the 2007/2008 campaign. Coming off a 19 win season, Coach assured me the squad is poised to build on their 19 win season last year to make a run at the post season in 2008.

Part one of this piece will focus on the Flyer backcourt and who else to start with than two-time All Atlantic-10 player Brian Roberts. More commonly referred to as B-Rob, Roberts will again be a vital part to lead the Flyer attack on both ends of the floor. After averaging 18.5 points per game, shooting 46% from both 2 and 3 point range and an incredible 89% from the foul line, it was obvious that Roberts could score in a variety of ways continually putting pressure on opposing defenses.

"Whether it's coming off screens, being used in screen and roll or brining the ball up the floor, we need to have the ball in his (Roberts') hands", said Schmidt.

Since teams will be making a concerted effort to slow down the always lethal Flyer guard, this will provide ample opportunities for others to step up and show they belong in the rotation. Enter freshman Chris Wright, the highly touted, Scout.com 4-star recruit, who stands 6'7 and possesses a virtual unlimited amount of athleticism providing Coach Gregory many options. After choosing UD over the Big 10 programs such as Michigan State, Michigan and Illinois, Wright will have a great opportunity step in and the Flyers in what expects to be a more up-tempo offense this coming year.

"We've stressed to our players the need to understand pace. Whether it be offense or defense, our athleticism and depth coupled with energy will allow us to play at a faster pace", said Schmidt. "That being said, we are not married to any player or scheme. The guys who play hard will get on the floor".

In addition to Wright, returning guards Andres Sandoval and London Warren should also fit into the fray of guards. Sandoval is coming off a season hampered with injuries which did not allow him to truly get into the flow. According to the Dayton Daily News, Sandoval's body fat has "plunged from 12%to 6.8%". Warren on the other hand gained a good amount of confidence as last year went on and provided a spark of energy with his ball hawking abilities as well as his ability to push the ball in transition.

Swingmen Marcus Johnson and Jimmy Binne should also play into the coaching staff's schemes since each of them bring very important skill sets to the floor. Johnson, like Wright, is an extremely agile and athletic wing with the ability to take the ball to the basket strong, in addition to hitting the pull up jumper and playing very good defense. Johnson was third on the team last year with 111 rebounds which will be in high demand with the departure of Monty Scott and Norman Plummer who combined, accounted for almost 25% of the teams' rebounds, not to mention Plummers' 64 offensive boards. Binnie will also need to help on the glass and defend bigger opponents depending on the lineup. Though his ability to stretch the floor and consistently knock down 3's could prove critical to how he is used.

Finally, the two newcomers should help bolster and add depth to the already talented group of guards. University of Wisconsin transfer Mickey Perry as well as Cathedral High School (IN) alumnus Stephen Thomas are multi-talented players whose impact has already been noted by Coach Schmidt.

"Stephen is a throwback guard in the sense that he can make open shots and good decisions while being able to play on of off the ball which should compliment Brian nicely. Mickey is a guy who has really impressed us with his ability to really shoot the ball, especially from long range."

Dayton Insider's discussion with Coach Schmidt concluded with what many would consider the most important topic of all: defense. UD finished 6th in team defense in the Atlantic-10 last season, and of the six teams that finished ahead of them in the conference standings, 4 gave up fewer points per game. In a conference where so many games come down to the final few minutes or possessions, defensive stops are crucial in winning games and creating separation from the rest. This comes at no surprise Coach Schmidt who summed UD's defense next year in saying: "It will have to carry us [for us to be successful]".

The Takeaway
The strong suit of this years Flyer backcourt will be its depth and versatility. The consistent rhetoric from Coach Schmidt was based around the simple fact that the coaching staff is not committed to any specific lineup and that defense is an integral part of the team's success. The guys who play hard and smart in practice to improve the team and their own games, will be the guys who are given the opportunity to compete come game time. This competitive fight is what will allow this Flyer team to grow as a unit to compete for the Atlantic 10 Championship with aspirations to make postseason play a yearly occurrence, which is something all Flyer fans are eager for.

Stay tuned to FlyerCountry.com for more of Coach Schmidt's commentary and Dayton Insider insight about the forwards and centers in the next few days!

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