What to expect: VCU visits arch-rival ODU

44 years and 87 games later, the VCU-ODU rivalry is stronger than ever. The Rams travel to Norfolk on Friday night to face the Monarchs for the first time since leaving the CAA.

  • What: VCU (5-3, 0-0) vs. Old Dominion University (1-7, 0-1)
  • Where: Ted Constant Convocation Center
  • When: Friday, December 7th at 9:00 PM
  • Watch: NBC Sports Network (Comcast 226/848HD & Verizon 90/590HD)
  • Listen: Rams Radio

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The Rundown

44 years and 87 games later, the VCU-ODU rivalry is stronger than ever. The Atlantic 10’s Virginia Commonwealth University and the Conference-USA bound Old Dominion enter the “Lumber Liquidators Hardwood Showdown” with two very different season trajectories. VCU (4-3) having suffered three losses to currently ranked teams is on the up and up behind the talented front-court of Juvonte Reddic and Treveon Graham. ODU (1-7) is coming off the worst home loss in the history of the Ted Constant Convocation Center at the hands of the Richmond Spiders.

The Team

Famous for playing the toughest non-conference schedule in the CAA, ODU enters the weekend with a surprisingly low 195th rank in strength of schedule. They have dropped home games to teams like Texas San Antonio, Holy Cross, and VMI, and their sole victory is over Morgan State.

Blaine Taylor’s team is weak on both sides of the ball, but the defensive deficiencies come as a surprise considering ODU’s strong tradition of defense. The Monarchs switch between a 2-3 zone and a 1-2-2 zone while also occasionally using man-to-man defense in full court pressure situations. Despite their length, they have allowed their opponents to shoot 52.8% from 2-point range and 36.6% from 3-point range. This could be the perfect opportunity for Troy Daniels to reassert himself after shooting just 9-33 (.273) over the past four games.

On offense, the Monarch can’t get shots to fall. Their 25.6% from 3-point range ranks 326th and their 45% from 2-point range ranks 234th. Tuesday against Richmond, the Monarchs struggled time and time again tto score from point blank range en route to the 80-53 shellacking. The one bright spot for ODU is their offensive rebounding. The Monarchs are in their fourth consecutive season with a top-10 offensive rebounding percentage including 1st place finishes in 2010 and 2011. This season, they have rebounded 42.9% of their missed shots. Considering their shooting woes, that is a lot of second, third, and fourth opportunities.

The Star

Old Dominion has lost eight seniors in the past two years, and this year’s upperclassmen have yet to assert themselves. Sophomore guard #4 Dimitri Batten was supposed to make the leap after averaging 8.0PPG as a freshmen. He has digressed in most statistical areas, most notably 3-point shooting (.404 as a freshman, .297 as a sophomore). For a guard, he struggles with fouls including frustration fouls.

Junior guard #25 Donte Hill also hasn’t made the leap yet. He is a versatile player that has all of the tools, including rebounding skills, to thrive in the Blaine Taylor system. But his shots aren’t falling, and he hasn’t established himself as the go-to guy.

Center #11 DeShawn Painter joined ODU in his senior season after earning a hardship waiver and transferring from an extremely talented NC State. Averaging 8.3 PPG and 7.4 RPG, Painter is that classic frustrating ODU player who scores on second chance opportunities.

While his statistics may not show it, Senior #1 Nick Wright could be the Monarch’s star on Friday. The 6-foot-8 forward started the season slow, but he is a blue-collar Blaine Taylor player. Wright is coming off of two double digit performances including 16 points against University of Richmond. Last season, he scored 12 points and grabbed 11 boards against VCU in Norfolk. In his final game against VCU, Wright could be the player that keeps ODU competitive.

Eight games into the 2012-13 season, ODU is waiting on last season’s role players to step up and become game leaders. Current Golden State Warrior Kent Bazemore’s versatility held together last season’s squad and covered up many of that teams deficiencies. Without him, this season has gone from rebuilding to bust.

The Prediction

VCU is good and ODU is bad, but rivalry games defy the laws of basketball. Guys like Troy Daniels and potentially Darius Theus1, who are playing Old Dominion for the 9th time, are going to be fueled by emotion. The same goes for a guy like Nick Wright. Still, VCU topped ODU and Kent Bazemore twice last season, and the Rams should cruise this season. Ken Pomeroy picks VCU to win 71-57 with a 90% chance of victory.

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Old Dominion Profile

  • Location: Norfolk, VA
  • Enrollment: 24,125
  • Conference: CAA
  • All time series: VCU leads 45-42
  • Last meeting: 2/11/12. VCU won 68-64.

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  1. After suffering a knee injury against Stetson and sitting out against Belmont, Senior PG Darius Theus is still questionable for Friday night. Read what Chris Kowalczyk has to say

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Aaron Williams

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

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