Blast from the past!
1.) The first thing you should do after you finish reading this is get in the car and go to Hofstra and watch this game. I’m probably speaking to the converted here, but hey, the Flying Dutchmen are 5-0 and the bandwagon is getting full, so who knows how many new visitors we have here? Anyway, I was going to do something yesterday imploring the masses to show up at the Arena, but there was a lot of snow to shovel in Connecticut and a lot of day job work to grind through so I never got to it. But don’t take it from me—take it from my man Tim McMahon, who is probably sticking his DD voodoo doll after I interrupted him during dinner Thursday then never used his quotes!
“On Long Island, you come for a 4 o’clock game, you leave at 3:40, takes you 10 minutes to get there—[you think] ‘I’ll park and I’ll walk in and buy a ticket and be in the seat at 4:01,’” McMahon, Hofstra’s associate director of external relations, said.
But momentum for this game has been building since last Wednesday’s win over George Mason. And with more than 2,200 tickets sold as of this time yesterday—that’s in addition to season tickets—and dozens of other tickets being occupied by the high school bands that will play today, seats will be scarce today in what should be a great atmosphere for college basketball. So finish reading this and get your butt to Hofstra.
“People need to buy early and get in from the start,” McMahon said. “Let us know who you are and let us know what you think.”
2.) On to the game: Drexel put on a clinic on how to beat Old Dominion in coming back from an eight-point halftime deficit to beat the Monarchs, 62-57. Drexel outrebounded Old Dominion in the second half, 27-17, and became the first team this year to finish the game with the rebounding advantage over the Monarchs (47-37). Old Dominion’s prowess underneath the boards (it ranks among the top three in the country in rebounding and pulls down almost 16 offensive rebounds per game) compensates for its famously poor shooting (43.3 percent from the field and 63 percent from the line). The Monarchs simply can’t get second shots. David Imes and Greg Washington must be huge factors today in minimizing the number of opportunities ODU gets. And conversely, against the suffocating Old Dominion defense, the Dutchmen must be as potent on the offensive boards today as they were Wednesday, when they had 21 second-chance points.
3.) This would be a good game for the Dutchmen to find their form from beyond the arc. The Dutchmen have either been really good or really bad from 3-point land in their last eight games: They’ve shot 42 percent or better four times but 27 percent or worse four times. Old Dominion has scored more than 70 points just five times in 16 games and has been held under 70 in each of its last six contests and is not a team built to mount a comeback. Putting the Monarchs into that mode in a hurry will give the Dutchmen a big advantage.
3b.) No way this game gets into the 70s. It might not even get into the 60s.
4.) Old Dominion will be one mad, ornery team. Playing the back end of a northern bias road trip is bad enough, but playing it right after blowing a big lead at Drexel means the Monarchs won’t lack for focus or motivation today—especially since a loss here would put the overwhelming preseason favorites in a world of hurt. ODU would fall to 3-3 with a loss and would be, for all intents and purposes, four games behind the Dutchmen (today’s winner has the tiebreaker for seeding purposes since this is the only game of the season between the teams). But hey, nothing has come easy for the Dutchmen this season, so why should they get the top team in the league at anything less than its best?
5.) Coming full circle here: The atmosphere could be a huge factor for the Dutchmen in the first few minutes. The 2008-09 team played its best game of the season when it fed off a boisterous Arena and led Old Dominion wire-to-wire in a win Feb. 10. Darren Townes established the tone for that game by forcing held balls on the Monarchs’ first two possessions. Drexel proved Thursday a team doesn’t have to jump on Old Dominion from the tap in order to win. But embracing the buzz (man I sound like some kind of corporate wonk there, have I missed my calling?) early and never giving the Monarchs a chance to grab the momentum is vital. Because as much fun as it was to watch Aurimas Kieza drain that buzzer-beating 3-pointer for the win five years ago, a stress-free win is much more enjoyable.