99 in 99: #38 Dayton Flyers

Dayton NIT Champions

A pre-season Top 25 team a year ago, Dayton was supposed to be the cream of the crop in the Atlantic 10.  Instead, the Flyers floundered finishing a disappointing seventh place in a surprisingly competitive conference.  They missed out on the NCAA Tournament but took home the NIT Championship… which poses the question; would you rather your team make it to the NCAA Tournament and be a one-and-done or have your team win the NIT?  Discuss.

The Sports Bank’s “99 in 99” ranks the 72 power conference college basketball teams and top 27 mid-majors.  Click here if you missed teams #39-#99.

By: David Kay
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Pierre Thomas is Just Plain Better than Reggie Bush

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By Paul M. Banks

Among Saints RBs, the un-drafted free agent is playing vastly superior to 2006’s #2 overall pick.

The New Orleans Saints offense has been RIDONKOLOUS this season, averaging a NFL best 40 points per game. The next closest team is the Indianapolis Colts and they’re a whopping ten points per game behind. The Saints offense is also naturally number one in yardage, and they rank 6th in passing. Drew Brees and his high powered air attack often come to mind first, but it’s actually the ground game where the Saints are truly heavenly: New Orleans is currently 3rd in rushing. And the backfield’s big star is the highly touted Heisman trophy winner with the flashy reality star girlfriend, right?

WRONG! It’s his “back-up,” the undrafted afterthought from the south suburbs of Chicago that no one thought would even make the team.
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Take a look at Pierre Thomas’s numbers this season: 56 carries, 314 yards, 5.6 yards per carry average, 3 TDs. Now take a look at Bush’s: 45 carries, 175 yards, 3.9 ypc, and 1 TD. Bush is listed as the starter, but Thomas is (deservedly) getting more work. Well, you might argue that Bush’s strength is pass-catching, but Thomas has him beat there too with a better yards per catch on both the season and in career averages.

Also, take a look at career rushing numbers. Thomas- 237, 1191, 13, 5.0 yards per attempt, Bush- 463, 1725, 15, 3.7. Since they’re running behind the exact same offensive line, I think we know who should truly be “starting”.

Is it any wonder Reggie Bush is much more known for his reality “star,” famous-for-doing-absolutely-nothing-of-value girlfriend Kim Kardashian than he is for his game?

Aside from having one good pass catching year (his rookie season of ’06), he’s done next to nothing in the NFL, but still has a $12 million a year contract. Because of those facts, you could say he’s been a bigger bust than…insert your own joke about his insipid celebutante significant other here. And perhaps motivation is the problem with Bush. He already has the money and the women, so maybe he doesn’t care about working hard to obtain anything else?

The journey from college to the NFL could not have been more different for NOLA’s two tailbacks. Bush came in with more hype than a summer event movie, and emerged from the nation’s most dominant program, USC. Although picked 2nd, he was expected to be #1 overall while Pierre Thomas went undrafted out of Illinois, a program which has been among the worst in all of FBS for most of this decade. Look no further than the 2008 Rose Bowl, where USC slaughtered Illinois 49-17, to figure out who had the pub working for them in their college days. In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that Thomas attended the same alma mater as this author, and grew up pretty close to where I did. He prepped at Thornton Fractional South, a rival SICA Conference school in Lansing, IL. So I know his roots well. illinois_pierre_thomas_sm

And Thomas’ humble beginnings are probably a big part of his desire to succeed, and that drive is making him a much more productive player than the “can’t miss” prospect.  Thomas’ 5.6 ypc is 6th in the NFL, his former Illini teammate Rashard Mendenhall is 7th at 5.4. Very ironic; a program which has been the worst in the Big Ten much of this decade has produced two of the NFL’s top runners this season.

When the Saints take on Atlanta Monday night (Notice I did not use the “when the Saints march in” expression, I didn’t want to torture you by repeating one of the most shopworn phrases incessantly spewed by the laziest of journalist hacks) it will be Thomas, not Bush who sets the pace on offense.

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