#34 Old Dominion: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #34
Conference Rank: #1 Colonial Athletic Association
2009-10: 27-9, 15-3
2009-10 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Blaine Taylor (188-103 at Old Dominion, 330-168 overall)
For six straight years Coach Blaine Taylor has led Old Dominion to the postseason. That streak is not going to end this year. Three of those postseason appearances have been to the NCAA Tournament, but it was last year when ODU knocked off Notre Dame that the Monarchs finally got some much deserved respect. The loss of Gerald Lee is a big blow, but with four starters returning, this team will battle it out for another NCAA berth.
Key Losses: F Gerald Lee, G Marsharee Neely
For the most part ODU went seven deep last year and they have plenty of experienced players to fill in for the two departed contributors. Yet, that does not mean the four newcomers cannot work their way into the regular rotation. Guard Josh Hicks and power forward Anton Larsen both redshirted last year and are prepared to play some minutes if they have to do so. Richard Ross, another big man, is one of two incoming freshman and could add some more depth in the paint. However, it is shooting guard Dimitri Batten who is best prepared to play as a freshman, but he may find it difficult to get too many minutes in a pretty crowded backcourt.
ODU beats teams on the glass and that is in large part due to the size and talent of Kent Bazemore and Ben Finney on the wings. Bazemore is not much of a shooter, whether it be from beyond the arc or at the charity stripe, but he is a superb all-around player in every other aspect of the game. He can score around the basket and hit the glass hard, but more impressively he led the team with 3.4 assists and 1.9 steals per contest. Finney is the best shooter among the guards, but only connected on 1.1 three-pointers per game. Yet, like Bazemore, Finney is a fine passer and a great rebounder. Having those two on the wings gives the Monarchs a dynamic backcourt that can pass, rebound and score in a variety of ways. Trian Iliadis will need to increase his playing time a little bit without Marsharee Neely around. Iliadis, a 6-4 junior, is mostly a shooter, but he does have enough size to be a capable replacement for Bazemore or Finney off of the bench.
Lee was the only player on the team to average double figures in the scoring column, but he is not completely irreplaceable. Frank Hassell averaged 9.2 points per game and was the team’s best rebounder and shot blocker last year and will be again this season. Hassell may even emerge as the Monarch’s best scorer. At the least, the 6-8 senior will be the main interior threat for ODU on both sides of the floor. Keyon Carter, another 6-8 senior forward, will have to take on a bigger role without Lee on the team. Carter started 13 games last year and managed to average 7.4 points and 4.9 rebounds. The depth of the frontcourt may take a hit, but Carter and Hassell are certainly capable of filling Lee’s shoes in the scoring column and Carter has already proven to be a better rebounder than Lee was during his senior season. The depth issue will fall on Chris Cooper and Nick Wright, as well as the freshmen.
Who to Watch:
Darius James was a part-time starter during his freshman campaign and has been running the point ever since. The 6-1 senior dished out 3.3 assists per game last year and, as usual, did a fine job keeping the turnovers down. James is not a big-time scorer, but he is a decent outside shooter and that is something this teams needs. If he can keep the opposing defense honest with his outside shooting, the ODU offense will continue to be efficient and effective even without Lee. Marquel De Lancey is a capable backup point guard and garnered enough experience over the last two years to be a solid player off of the bench.
It is easy to write off Old Dominion since Lee got drafted in the second round, but there was, and is, a lot more to this team than just Lee. VCU, George Mason and James Madison are not going to make it easy, but the Monarchs should have the most talented team in the CAA from day one. The biggest issue is whether or not the depth in the paint can keep up with the starters. If they do, this team may not have to win the conference tournament to reach the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Darius James, Senior, Guard, 7.0 ppg
Kent Bazemore, Junior, Guard, 8.4 ppg
Ben Finney, Senior, Forward, 8.8 ppg
Keyon Carter, Senior, Forward, 7.4 ppg
Frank Hassell, Senior, Forward, 9.2 ppg
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