By Paul Gotham
Coaches often talking about breaking games into four-minute segments.
There is first four and last four as in the first four minutes of a game, the last four minutes of the half, the first four coming out of the locker room and the last four minutes of the game. These parts of the game can be viewed as important for momentum. A team wants to go into the locker room feeling good and with a head of steam going into the second 20 minutes.
Another way to break down a game is into the series of four-minute segments created by official/media timeouts. Coaches and teams will measure themselves by each of these individual portions.
Dayton’s loss to Florida in Saturday’s regional final can be pinpointed to one four-minute segment.
With 4:03 remaining in the first half Florida led Dayton 24-23. When the horn sounded, the Gators lead had ballooned to 38-24. Scottie Wilbekin capped the run with a pullup three-pointer from the top of the key.
“I had a play on that I was trying to bring somebody to him to set a high pick‑and‑roll,” Florida coach Billy Donovan explained. “It’s kind of a little bit different action that we run that’s a little bit kind of a slip screen and it opens up the floor a bit.”
Dorian Finney-Smith made Wilbiken’s shot possible with an offensive rebound earlier in a possession which lasted 46 seconds.
“We put four along the baseline and moved guys underneath the basket and offensive rebound,” Donovan continued. “I trust Scottie enough to put him in those situations.He felt more comfortable just with the floor spaced to not bring help to the basketball. And, obviously, it was a big shot going into the half because it put us up 14.”
Florida’s margin of victory was 10, 62-52. Take out the run in the final minutes of the first half and Dayton outscored Florida by three over the remaining 36 minutes of the game.
“Unfortunately, we were bad in a couple spots in the game,” Dayton coach Archie Miller said. “A lot of it had to do with Florida. But I thought we competed.”
Obviously, there were other factors contributing to Florida’s win.
“Their defense is there every game, and they’re great on the glass as well,” Miller stated. “You don’t get very many second shots. So to their credit, I think they’ve got a great system. They’ve got great personnel, and they play extremely hard.”
The 52 points was the lowest single-game total for a Dayton team which came in averaging 70 points a game.
“Their press gets you into a half‑court system where you either have to let your players play and rely on them to make the decisions, or you have to really slow it down and try to create offense through sets and whatnot,” Miller explained. “That can really take you out of your game with one‑day prep or whatever you’ve got to play them. Secondly, you’re talking about I don’t know how many seniors, but strong, big, physical. They play hard, and everything around the basket is difficult. It’s challenged.”
Florida also held UD’s leading scorer, Jordan Sibert, without a point. Sibert only took three shots in the game.
“They did a really good job identifying him in transition,” Miller said. “I don’t think they left him a whole lot when the ball was inside out…We tried to get him a couple shots there, didn’t work. I give a little bit of credit to Florida on that. But without Jordan Sibert, we don’t play in Elite Eight.”
Wilbekin finished with a game high 23 points.
Dyshawn Pierre paced UD with 18 points
Dayton’s bench outscored their counterparts 16-7.
The Flyers finished the season 26-11.
Florida moves on to the Final Four where they will meet UConn.