#129 Old Dominion Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

Old Dominion Monarchs
2017-2018 Overall Rank: #129
Conference Rank: #4 Conference USA
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Despite the lack of a postseason tournament, Old Dominion had another solid season under Coach Jeff Jones. The Monarchs finished with 19 victories and went 12-6 in Conference USA action, which was good enough for a tie for third. Bowing out to sixth seeded Marshall in the conference tournament by a score of 64-63 was a tough way to end the year, but this group will be back in the upper echelon of CUSA in 2017-2018. Point guard Ahmad Caver emerged as the team’s top scorer last season, averaging 13.0 points per game on top his 4.8 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals. On a team that struggled to shoot the ball from long range, Caver also knocked down 67 three-pointers at a 36.8 percent clip. Caver made a big jump during his sophomore season and fans should be excited to see what he can do as a junior.
2016-17 Record: 19-12, 12-6
2016-17 Postseason: None
Coach: Jeff Jones
Coach Record: 89-51 at Old Dominion, 441-336 overall
Who’s Out:
Starting guard Jordan Baker was the only other major outside shooting threat besides Caver last season. Like Caver, Baker stepped up his shooting last season and managed to average 6.7 points and play solid defense. It is a bit of a surprise that ODU would miss Baker’s offense, but somebody needs to replace his shooting. The other lost starter is forward Denzell Taylor, who averaged 3.8 points and 7.5 rebounds during his senior season. He was a huge reason why the Monarchs boasted the best rebounding margin in Conference USA. Losing sixth man Zoran Talley hurts just as much. The 6-7 sophomore was second on the team with 11.3 points per game and will be playing elsewhere for the rest of his collegiate career. Little used freshmen Khary Mauras and Travis Fields will not be returning for their sophomore seasons.
Who’s In:
Wake Forest graduate transfer Greg McClinton was supposed to help replace Taylor in the frontcourt, but unfortunately he will miss the entire season with an ACL injury. His experience would have been very helpful for Old Dominion this year. The rest of the newcomers are guards, but they will all compete for major minutes on the wing. Xavier Green, who redshirted last season, is a great athlete who can finish around the basket with ease. At 6-4, he can also help out on the glass. Incoming freshman Marquis Godwin has some nice size too. The 6-6 Hampton, Virginia product can shoot the ball over many defenders and should help fill the shooting void left by Baker and the scoring off the bench void left by Talley. For now Michael Hueitt will likely be a shooter off the bench and he could provide a much needed spark to the offense due to his ability to get hot from long range.
Who to Watch:
The frontcourt will again be led by Brandan Stith. Last season he averaged 9.9 points and 7.0 rebounds. Without Taylor, Stith will be asked to shoulder even more of the rebounding load. He is a double-double threat every night and is turning into a decent shot blocking threat as well. The bigger question will be who plays besides Stith. Trey Porter has been the most productive option. The 6-10 junior averaged 6.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks during his first season with ODU after transferring in from Old Dominion. He did all of that in just 14.6 minutes per game. Those minutes could stay low again this year because Coach Jeff Jones rarely played him and Stith together. That trend may continue into the 2017-2018 campaign and that would leave Porter as Stith’s backup and make a starter out of Alassane Kah or Aaron Carver. Kah barely played last season, but the 6-9 senior is still developing and could finally emerge as a key contributor. Carver played a little more, averaging 1.0 points and 1.4 rebounds in 7.7 minutes per game as a freshman. If he continues to get stronger, Carver could at least provide a presence in the paint to help free up space for Stith.
Final Projection:
Brandan Stith may not be the most important Stith on the team though. Younger, shorter B.J. Stith is back to retain his starting shooting guard spot. B.J. averaged 10.8 points and 4.3 assists during his first year with ODU after transferring from Virginia. He is not a great shooter, which is why this team does not take or make many three-point shots, but Stith will be a very consistent scorer. Much of the shooting though will have to come from Caver, the newcomers and senior reserve guard Randy Haynes. Old Dominion will not need too much outside shooting since they will win games with their defense, but those bursts of offense that come from outside shots means a lot more for a team like Old Dominion who will grind out victories.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI / CIT / V16
Projected Starting Five:
Ahmad Caver, Junior, Guard, 13.0 points per game
B.J. Stith, Junior, Guard, 10.8 points per game
Xavier Green, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Aaron Carver, Sophomore, Forward, 1.0 points per game
Brandan Stith, Senior, Forward, 9.9 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 64.5 (330th in nation, 13th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 61.2 (5, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 41.2 (310, 11)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.0 (17, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.1 (333, 14)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.4 (291, 10)
Free-Throw Percentage: 64.3 (333, 14)
Rebound Margin: 5.6 (29, 1)
Assists Per Game: 13.6 (159, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.2 (36, 2)