#45 Old Dominion Men's Basketball Preview

Old Dominion Monarchs

Overall Rank: #45
Conference Rank: #2 Colonial
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2010-11: 27-7, 14-4
2010-11 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Blaine Taylor (215-110 at Old Dominion, 357-173 overall)

Old Dominion does lose four of their top five starters from their NCAA Tournament team of a year ago, but the Monarchs still have plenty of reasons to be optimistic heading into the 2011-2012 campaign. Coach Blaine Taylor has a great system in place and his teams can win with stellar defense. They have proven it before and they will prove it again this year. Wing Kent Bazemore is a dynamic scorer who averaged 12.8 points per game last season and shot 40.8 percent from beyond the arc. A foot injury may keep Bazemore sidelined early in the season, but the 6-5 senior should be ready to be a leader on this team as soon as he is healthy.

Who’s Out:
Losing Frank Hassell, Keyon Carter, Ben Finney and Darius James is not a good thing. Hassell led the team with 15.1 points and 9.4 rebounds and finding another big guy who can be a consistent scorer in the paint may be an issue. Carter was a good complimentary forward who spent most of last season coming in off of the bench. Ben Finney did not have a great senior season, but he still was third on the team in scoring and second in rebounding. James ran the point and did a fine job keeping the offense moving.

Who’s In:
ODU has quite a few experienced players who were stuck on the bench last season, so this group of newcomers will not have to step right into major playing time. However, they will need to provide nearly all of the depth. Junior college transfer Nayquann Mitchell has the best shot at cracking the starting lineup. The 6-7 forward is still a little raw, but he is a good athlete who has a knack for blocking shots. His defensive mindset will fit in nicely at ODU. Yet, Mitchell did prove that he can score and rebound at the junior college level and he will help replace Hassell in those departments as well. Redshirt freshman Richard Ross, who will reportedly miss the first semester for academic reasons, and true freshman Jason Pimentel will add depth up front. The newcomers on the perimeter will all be asked to play some minutes as reserves. Donte Hill, a transfer from Clemson, will be eligible after the first semester. In the meantime, redshirt freshman Dimitri Batten will have to play quite a few minutes, especially if Bazemore misses a significant amount of time. Breon Key is a quality combo guard who will be the backup point guard.

Who to Watch:
There is a lot more talent on this team than many would expect. Marquel De Lancey has been biding his time. Last year he only averaged 12.4 minutes per game, but the senior point guard is more than ready to step into a starting role. De Lancey may not score too much, although he does have a nice stroke, but he can run the offense and keep the turnovers down. By his side will be Trian Iliadis. Iliadis was the shooter off the bench last season. This time he will be asked to shoot more. The 6-3 Australian does have the size to be more than a shooter and it would be very beneficial if he could emerge as a more multi-faceted scorer in 2011-2012. He certainly has the ability, but he will be very valuable even if most of his points come from long range.

Final Projection:
Chris Cooper is back after starting 24 games last season. He is not the frontcourt scorer that Hassell was, but he is a tough interior player and is a very good rebounder. The problem with Cooper is staying on the floor. He has a knack for picking up fouls and ODU will need him to stay on the floor more than 20 minutes per game this year. If he can improve his interior scoring, Cooper will be in for a huge senior season. Nick Wright and seven-footer Anton Larsen will battle for playing time. Wright, a 6-8 junior, could earn the starting job at the power forward spot after averaging 1.5 points and 1.5 rebounds a year ago. This team has some questions to answer, but players like Iliadis and De Lancey are experienced options who have just been stuck behind some other talented players. They will shine this year. The bigger issue will be the health of Bazemore. With a couple players not eligible right away, the Monarchs may struggle early if Bazemore is out as well and this team cannot afford losses in non-conference play if they have any hope of earning an at-large bid.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Marquel De Lancey, Senior, Guard, 1.9 points per game
Trian Iliadis, Senior, Guard, 6.0 points per game
Kent Bazemore, Senior, Guard, 12.3 points per game
Nayquann Mitchell, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
Chris Cooper, Senior, Forward, 5.0 points per game

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