It’s a question Obi Toppin is not ready to answer — even if it’s the worst-kept secret in Dayton.
The consensus national Player of the Year candidate is likely playing his last home game Saturday night when the third-ranked Flyers attempt to complete an undefeated run through the Atlantic 10 Conference against George Washington.
But the 6-9 sophomore, averaging 19.8 points and 7.6 rebounds while shooting 62.9 percent from the field, isn’t quite ready to concede that he’ll be playing for pay in a few months.
“I’m not ready to say it,” he told the Dayton Daily News. “We’re not done with the season yet.”
It’s an announcement Toppin may be able to delay until April. The Flyers (28-2, 17-0), who have not lost since before Christmas, lead Division I in field goal shooting at 52.4 percent and average 80.1 points, 14th-best in the nation.
They are a top 10 team nationally in assists (17.6) and assist/turnover ratio (1.4). They are so efficient and powerful offensively that they made 27 straight 2-point shots on Feb. 28 in an 82-67 win over Davidson that clinched the A-10 regular season crown.
Most of it is fueled by Toppin, who with four dunks in Wednesday night’s 84-57 rout at Rhode Island has recorded an even 100 slams this season. And if a team thinks about conceding him jumpers, that doesn’t work, either. He has made 39 percent from beyond the arc this season, including 13 of 27 in the last 10 games.
Throw in three other double-figure scorers, including combo guard Jalen Crutcher (14.9 ppg) and you have a team that can attack an opponent any way it chooses.
“In my 20 years of watching Atlantic 10 Conference basketball, I don’t know there is a better team I’ve seen,” Rhode Island coach David Cox said. “The collective of talent, the cohesiveness, the coaching, I don’t know that I’ve seen a better team.”
Dayton isn’t just an offensive machine, either. It held Rhode Island to 28.8 percent shooting Wednesday night, clamping down on Fatts Russell, who averages 19 points per game, and limiting him to nine on 2 of 13 marksmanship.
“The thing we’ve been able to do all year is take on any challenge that comes our way,” said Flyers coach Anthony Grant.
This challenge doesn’t seem so challenging on paper. George Washington (12-18, 6-11) is 10th in the 14-team A-10 and comes to town on a four-game losing streak, including a 63-52 setback Wednesday night to 8-21 Fordham in its last home game.
Offense has been the Colonials’ major problem under first-year coach Jamion Christian. They average only 66.1 points, tied for 304th out of 353 Division I teams, and make just 42.4 percent of their field goals. None of their four double-figure scorers is hitting better than 44 percent.
But Christian, who inherited a program that flailed to no avail the previous two years, has been happy with his squad’s effort.
“When we hang that first banner, I’ll look back on these guys for the work they were able to do,” he said.
–Field Level Media