#76 Old Dominion Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Old Dominion Monarchs
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #76
Conference Rank: #1 Conference USA
Any team that plays defense as well as Old Dominion is going to be in the mix for a conference title. Last season the Monarchs ended up winning 25 games and there is hope that this group can do even better. Coach Jeff Jones’ squad finished 12-6 in a tough Conference USA, but made a nice run to the conference championship game, where they fell 55-53 to Middle Tennessee. The Monarchs had to settle for a trip to the inaugural Vegas 16. They beat Tennessee Tech, UCSB and Oakland en route to a Vegas 16 championship.
2015-16 Record: 25-13, 12-6
2015-16 Postseason: Vegas 16
Coach: Jeff Jones
Coach Record: 70-39 at Old Dominion, 422-324 overall
Who’s Out:
Trey Freeman is a big loss for Old Dominion. He easily led the team with 22.1 points per game and on a team that only scored 68.5 points per game, that is a huge percentage of the scoring. Freeman was one of the few players who could create his own shot and that is a skill the Monarchs will miss. Aaron Bacote was second on the team with 13.1 points per game. Like Freeman, Bacote was a capable outside shooter who could also attack the basket. Nik Biberaj did a lot of the dirty work in the paint during his senior season. The 6-8 forward was never much of a threat to score, but he gave a quality 20 minutes per game. Little used Payton Pervier and Martin Shaw are also gone.
Who’s In:
ODU will look to reload with five transfers. B.J. Stith comes to the Monarchs to join his brother and his father, who is an assistant under Coach Jones. Stith spent one season at Virginia and the 6-5 sophomore will make a big impact with his new team. Trey Porter was sitting on the sidelines last season too after transferring in from George Mason. Porter is a long, lanky 6-10, 205 pound forward who can do some scoring the paint. He averaged just 3.5 points and 2.6 rebounds with George Mason, but his season on the sidelines has helped his development and he will at least be a force on the defensive end of the floor. The frontcourt also adds junior college transfer Alassane Kah. The 6-9 junior has some work to do, but he can stretch the defense with his outside shooting ability. Fellow junior college transfers Randy Haynes and Keith Pinckney will look for minutes on the perimeter. Both can handle the ball and this is a team that needs some ball handlers. Freshmen Aaron Carver, Travis Fields and Xavier Green should all have time to develop with so many experienced players coming into the program.
Who to Watch:
The newcomers are nice, but Coach Jones returns five players who should have a big impact on this team. Brandan Stith is the most proven of the bunch. The 6-7 forward averaged 10.4 points and 9.7 rebounds last season and he will tally a ton of double-doubles in 2016-2017. The elder Stith will be joined by Denzell Taylor in the frontcourt. Taylor is not much of an offensive threat, but he is an experienced senior who averaged 7.2 rebounds per game last season. With some scorers around him, Old Dominion can afford to put him in the starting lineup and let him hit the glass and play tough defense. Zoran Talley had a very promising freshman campaign. He averaged 8.1 points and 4.5 rebounds and was very efficient scoring in the paint. Talley should be in for a big sophomore season, especially if he can develop an outside shot. Jordan Baker and Ahmad Caver will handle plenty of minutes on the perimeter. Baker is a good shooter off of the bench and Caver will likely step into the starting point guard spot.
Final Projection:
The Monarchs are certainly not lacking in talent. While many of the key contributors are newcomers, B.J. Stith and Porter are no strangers to the program having sat on the sidelines last year. That means the chemistry of fitting in all of the newcomers should not be that big of an issue. The bigger issue will be finding a go-to-scorer or two. Both Stith’s are great options, but the pressure is really on B.J. to provide a consistent and reliable perimeter scoring threat. Somebody on this team needs to knock down some three-pointers and B.J. Stith will likely be the best option. If he has an off night and nobody else has proven that they can hit the long ball, Old Dominion will have some trouble this season. But there are options and Coach Jones will find enough offense to compete for a conference title and a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Ahmad Caver, Sophomore, Guard, 2.7 points per game
B.J. Stith, Sophomore, Guard, DNP last season
Zoran Talley, Sophomore, Forward, 8.1 points per game
Brandan Stith, Junior, Forward, 10.4 points per game
Denzell Taylor, Senior, Forward, 4.2 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 68.5 (270th in nation, 12th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 61.6 (7, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.3 (166, 11)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.7 (23, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 4.2 (344, 14)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 30.1 (327, 14)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.2 (242, 9)
Rebound Margin: 6.4 (29, 1)
Assists Per Game: 13.3 (178, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 9.1 (1, 1)