A shorthanded Chattanooga squad defeated Dayton 61-59 on Saturday, ending the Flyers’ 26-game home winning steak.
But don’t worry Flyer fans, reinforcements are on the way — that is, if the reinforcements are ready.
A federal judge on Friday rejected Dyshawn Pierre’s bid for early reinstatement to the University of Dayton, meaning the star forward will not be eligible to return to the basketball team until Dec. 20, when his semester-long suspension is over.
But according to Sporting News’ Alec Brzezinski, just because Pierre is eligible doesn’t mean he will definitely play.
Flyers coach Archie Miller told the Daily News he will meet with Pierre on Dec. 20 when the suspension ends and determine whether the small forward will play this season.
“If it’s feasible, (he’ll play),” Miller said. “If not, he’ll sit out a year.”
Before we go any further, let’s make one thing clear: Pierre will play when he is cleared. This is arguably Miller’s best squad he has ever assembled at Dayton, and adding Pierre into the mix gives the Flyers their best chance at winning now.
So the question shouldn’t be if Pierre suits up for the Flyers, but what type of impact he will have when he does suit up.
Pierre was Dayton’s leading scorer and rebounder last season, and easily their most versatile player, having the ability to play either forward position.
Pierre played primarily at the four position last season, but the emergence of Steve McElvene will allow Pierre to shift back to his more natural small forward position this season, where he can create all kinds of matchup problems for opposing defenses with his ability to play inside or out.
If teams place a smaller defender on Pierre, he will go to work in the post and use his size to his advantage. But if teams go big, Pierre can take his defender out to the perimeter, where he is comfortable shooting from beyond the arc or driving around bigger, slower defenders.
The return of Pierre will certainly add a different dynamic to the Flyers, removing pressure off other players by providing the team with a go-to player on the offensive end.
One player who will benefit is Pierre’s frontcourt mate, Kendall Pollard. Pierre and Pollard formed one of the best frontcourt scoring-rebounding duos in the country last season, and will look to keep that trend going this season.
But Pollard isn’t the only player who will benefit from Pierre’s return. Unlike last season, the Flyers have frontcourt depth this season in the form of McElvene and transfer Charles Cooke. The addition of Pierre will remove some of the workload from these players and allow the Flyers to distribute the ball around more on offense.
If Pierre does indeed return as soon as he is eligible, it will be at a perfect time for the Flyers. Dayton begins conference play Jan. 2 versus Duquesne, in what will be a very competitive season in the Atlantic 10.
The conference is loaded with quality teams at the top, with squads like Davidson, Rhode Island, VCU, George Washington and others all in the mix for potential tournament berths. Having one of the league’s best forwards return will help the Flyers’ chances of winning the A-10 this season — Without Pierre, they’re a contender, but with Pierre, they’re the favorites.
Flyer fans have waited patiently for Pierre’s return all season. Now, it appears the wait is almost over.