Can you withstand HAVOC? That is the question that every team facing Virginia Commonwealth has to answer.
There are ways. You can outrun the Rams. You can have a top point guard who knows exactly what to do with the ball at all times. You can have a top inside game and just concentrate on getting the ball over the line and then past the flailing hands in front of you.
Old Dominion did a great job of the first item on that list, running with the Rams for 30 minutes. And then it all fell apart.
The Monarchs fell to rival VCU 69-48, but that doesn't tell the whole story. You would think if you get outscored by about 50 percent of your total, you played terribly.
But really Old Dominion pushed VCU just about as well as any team that hasn't beaten the Rams this season. They were able to break the press time and again, and get easy inside looks at the basket. It was only after they failed to do that any longer that they couldn't score.
Forced to shoot from further back, the tired legs finally gave in.
That was when Juvonte Reddic took over inside. The most key player for VCU this season had 24 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks in the win. There was not stopping him once the Rams stopped the OId Dominion charge.
The final tally showed 21 turnovers from the Monarchs, 18 of which came from the starting trio of guards, including nine from Aaron Bacote. These are the numbers that would make you think the full game was an ugly affair, but it was really just compressed into that final quarter of game clock.
This Old Dominion team has pieces. Keenan Palmore went for 13 points on a respectable 6-for-11 shooting effort, along with five rebounds and two steals. Dimitri Batten showed flashes of brilliance when he had the ball in his hands. And Richard Ross had eight points, nine boards and four blocks in the loss.
The big question is whether ODU can turn this around in the next year when a lot of the pieces will be on the verge of graduating. Conference USA isn't very daunting, but there is still a mass of teams to fight through to make it to the top in what has become a one-bid conference since all of the best teams first bolted to the old Big East. The Monarchs are presumably right on the cusp of breaking through against the likes of Charlotte and Southern Mississippi.
But they aren't there yet.
They are maybe a quarter away from being that team that can compete through every game.
Sunday they were a quarter away against the Rams, and they took what looks like an ugly loss. But this team is building and improving, and soon, this rivalry will tilt back toward them, instead of having lost the last four in the series.
|Final - 12.8.2013||1||2||Total|
|Old Dominion Monarchs||31||17||48|
|Va. Commonwealth Rams||34||35||69|