On Tuesday, Blaine Taylor, the winningest coach in Old Dominion men's basketball history, was fired. It was tough to watch, but most likely even harder to be a part of. Which is why the Monarchs' response on Thursday evening was so damn impressive.
For the first time since Christmas, Old Dominion won a basketball game.
But that's not the craziest "first since" stat of the night. The craziest "first since" stat of the night was that this was Old Dominion's first win since the 2000-2001 season. After that year, Blaine Taylor took over.
Tonight, the Monarchs beat the Drexel Dragons, 78-66, for the team's third win of the season. And let me tell you, from first hand experience: it was some inspired basketball.
They played stalwart defense on a Drexel team who, two games ago, knocked off George Mason, the second-best team in the CAA. They did so by shutting down Damion Lee, and quite literally: Lee was held scoreless for the first time this season, going 0 for 6. Any time he had the ball, there was at least one defender in his face, prohibiting any creation from the talented sophomore who entered the game averaging 18.2 ppg.
And that kind of tenacity was prominent all night. Even though the Dragons seemed to outplay the Monarchs in the opening minutes, the high-intensity defense helped them stay in the game until they were able to utilize a hot streak to end the first half with a four-point victory.
Then, in the second half, they went on a 17-2 run after Drexel took the lead for the first time since the first twenty minutes, pouring on clutch buckets and tightening up on the Dragons' Frantz Massenat, who tried, but in the end could not succeed.
We haven't seen Old Dominion play like this since last season.
Of course, to some point, that's exactly the game I expected from the blue and gray side when I arrived at the DAC tonight.
When a head coach is fired, the entire team takes it as a personal offense. They weren't able to play well enough to keep the job of the man who led them all. And so, in the next game, they will come out with a fire. Not only was the head coach fired, but they were all insulted by the lack of respect from their athletic director. They wanted to prove to the fans that their hearts were indeed in it.
And they did. When all of your players with significant playing time have at least seven points in the game, and you shred a defense who had returned to its stoic form as of late?
Sure, at the end of the day you're still 3-20.
But in the Jim Corrigan era, these Monarchs are undefeated.