What to expect: ODU has the tools to reboot rivalry

#14 VCU visits ODU Saturday afternoon, and for the first time since 2012 the Monarchs have a team capable of beating the Rams.

  • What: VCU (4-1, 0-0) vs. Old Dominion (4-1, 0-0)
  • Where: Ted Constant Convocation Center
  • When: Saturday, November 29th at 2:00 PM
  • Watch: CSN+/SNY
  • Listen: Rams Radio

The Rundown

The Old Dominion-Virginia Commonwealth University rivalry has fundamentally changed. The cross-state animosity has all but evaporated, the post-Thanksgiving duel lacks buzz, and the television coverage isn’t worthy of the battles of the past decade. It will never be the same as the classic CAA days when Blaine Taylor patrolled the sidelines, but also gone are the days of what felt like apathy. It’s easy to be friendly and nonchalant when one team doesn’t have a chance and little is on the line.

For the past two seasons, ODU didn’t have a shot, and little was on the line for the struggling Monarchs. This season, Coach Jeff Jones has a maturing roster with enough talent to hang with VCU. Saturday starts a new chapter in a rivalry that’s on an upward trajectory.

The Team

For years, it felt like ODU put a team almost entirely made of forwards on the court. The Monarchs were long, strong, and their 2-3 zone chewed up and spit out opponents. ODU 2.0 has a guard heavy attack, uses man-to-man defense, and lacks front court depth, but true to their multiple shades of blue, the Monarchs still somehow turn games into rock fights.

ODU ranks 196th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 42nd in adjusted defensive efficiency. The Monarchs won’t turn the ball over 21 times and will hit more than three pointers (totals from last season’s 69-48 blowout), but their offense is still a ways off from good.

Despite the loss, 2013-14 ODU over-performed and finished with 18 wins and a trip to the CBI Tournament. The 2014-15 Monarchs are on pace to win 20+ games and the key to their progress is a significantly improved roster.

The Star: #20 Trey Freeman

19.8 PPG (28-55 2PFG, 6-16 3PFG), 3.6 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.2 SPG

A former teammate of Reco McCarter at Campbell, Freeman joined the Monarchs this season and became the star from day one. He adds much needed outside shooting and is able score in multiple ways when attacking the basket. Saturday is undoubtedly the biggest game of his career thus far.

Supporting Cast

#0 Jordan Baker (G, Freshman) • Baker starts but his minutes are usually limited. He’s 6-of-8 from 3-point range and is capable of scoring in bunches.

#1 Aaron Bacote (G, Junior) • Bacote carried the Monarchs last season to the tune of 15.5 PPG. Additions this season will lessen the burden placed upon him and improve his efficiency, but he is still struggling to find his role on offense this season.

#23 Richard Ross (F, Senior) • He’s physically equipped to battle with Treveon Graham, and he’s a valuable veteran leader on a young team.

#35 Jonathan Arledge (F, Senior) • A 6-foot-9, 232 pound senior transfer from George Mason, he exploded in the season-opener scoring 19 points and grabbing nine rebounds. He’s been a consistent rebounder all season, but he’s been inconsistent on the offensive end.

#22 Ambrose Moseley (G, Sophomore) • He’s another guard on team in need of forwards, but he’s the most important returning shooter. He finished 59-of-169 (.343) from 3-point range last season.

#3 Keenan Palmore (G, Junior) • Palmore was entirely overwhelmed by HAVOC! last season. His role has decreased, but he’s a valuable guard off of the bench.

Javonte Douglas (F, Junior) • Douglas is a talented transfer who can add much needed size, but he was suspended for at least the first five games of the season for an off-court altercation. He will dress Saturday, but his role is unknown.

The Prediction

KenPom picks VCU to win 68-65 with a 62% chance of victory. I think VCU ultimately triumphs, but not before trailing at half time and learning something about themselves.

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Old Dominion Profile

  • Location: Norfolk, VA
  • Enrollment: 24,125
  • Conference: Conference USA
  • All time series: VCU leads 47-42
  • Last meeting: VCU won 69-48

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Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

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