Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Old Dominion 75, Hofstra 64 (Or: So close)

Yeah, Old Dominion isn't in Philadelphia and Hall and Oates' last chart hit So Close has absolutely nothing to do with basketball, but I'm way late with this so just forgive the obvious cliches.

I’ve got a head cold that is utterly kicking my ass the last couple days, so my apologies for the tardy recap—and for the re-return of five postgame thoughts! FPT has more lives than a horror movie villain! I’ll be better tomorrow night. Probably. Hopefully. Anyway, on with the recap:

1.) Turns out there was no need to worry about how to handle a win over the preseason favorites at the Arena. Storm the court? Don’t storm the court? Wasn’t an issue, though I will neither confirm nor deny I was plotting the fastest route to the floor once the Flying Dutchmen took a 12-0 lead.

That said, despite the seemingly lopsided final margin of defeat—and the fact Old Dominion, which would have a tough time racking up 70 points if it were shooting at the old Nerf basketball hoop I had set up over the kitchen pantry as a kid, outscored the Dutchmen 75-52 over the final 33:30—the Dutchmen could take solace, if not satisfaction, in how close they came to toppling the premier program in the CAA.

Old Dominion won by only 11—and led by just four with 2:43 to play and five with 32 seconds left before the Monarchs tacked on four free throws and a dunk—even though the Dutchmen endured their second-worst shooting performance of the season, had one of their toughest nights of the year beyond the arc and were destroyed on the boards. The Dutchmen shot 37.3 percent (22-of-59), ahead only of their 30.7 percent effort against Nebraska in the Puerto Rico finale, and were only 5-of-20 from 3-point land, which was what they shot in losing to Florida Atlantic.

ODU outrebounded the Dutchmen 52-28, the biggest deficit this season for Hofstra, and had a remarkable 33 defensive rebounds to just eight offensive boards for the Dutchmen. The Monarchs also had 27 second-chance points compared to just eight for the Dutchmen.

“We came out, we showed we could compete for the title in the conference,” said Mike Moore, who shared the team lead with 19 points and six assists. “We’re going to take some positives from this game. Basically, we outplayed them outside of the rebounding. If we could just get some extra defensive rebounds, I think we win this game.”

In addition, Charles Jenkins (19 points, six assists, two rebounds, three turnovers) had perhaps his worst game of the year as well in going just 6-of-16 from the field and 0-for-4 from 3-point land. It was only the third time this season he’s shot less than 40 percent and the first time he failed to hit a 3-pointer in a game in which he had more than two attempts.

2.) The Dutchmen probably can’t hope to outrebound Old Dominion, which entered the game among the top three teams in the country in rebounding. But they could have at least minimized the damage Frank Hassell and Chris Cooper did down low in combining for 26 points and 22 rebounds if Greg Washington wasn’t limited to 27 minutes by foul trouble.

Washington opened the game with an incredible four blocks in the first 104 seconds and ended up leading the Dutchmen with five blocks and two steals while altering numerous other shots. But Old Dominion took control of the game once Washington went to the bench with his third foul—and it was a ticky tack SOUTHERN BIAS!!!! call if we ever saw one—with 3:36 to play in the first half. At the time of the foul, the Dutchmen led 25-19, but beginning with Keyon Carter’s two free throws, the Monarchs went on a 10-2 run to end the half and take the lead for good.

With Washington in the lineup, the Dutchmen outscored Old Dominion 50-47. With him on the bench, they were outscored 27-14.

“His third foul was a tough one and took him out of the game a little bit,” Mo Cassara said. “We had to go small so it was clearly a big play for us.”

3.) The rebounding deficit, Jenkins’ atypical quietness and Washington’s extended absence can all be corrected between now and what we hope will be a rematch for all the marbles on the first Monday of March. But the Dutchmen aren’t beating Old Dominion if they don’t take advantage of the few mistakes the Monarchs make. The most interesting stat from Saturday: Old Dominion committed 15 turnovers, but the Dutchmen turned those into just 15 points. The Dutchmen committed only eight turnovers, but the Monarchs turned those into 14 points. That’s right: Old Dominion turned every turnover but one into a basket while the Dutchmen, for all intents and purposes, got a basket once every two turnovers.

Some of that is a byproduct of how those turnovers took place: The Dutchmen had just four steals and most of Old Dominion’s turnovers were caused by travels while the Monarchs had six steals, so ODU was able to take advantage of fast break opportunities far more than the Dutchmen. Still, against a perennial power with a talent and depth advantage, it’s imperative to take advantage of turnovers, no matter how they’re created.

4.) The loss was a reminder of just how thin the Dutchmen are in terms of depth. We’d all gotten used to someone stepping up and complementing Jenkins and Moore during the four-game winning streak—David Imes one night, Greg Washington another, Shemiye McLendon another—but there was nobody to pick up the slack Saturday. McLendon had a solid game and continued to evolve into something much more than a 3-point shooter with nine points on 4-of-10 shooting (including 1-of-3 from 3-point land), but Imes and Washington were a combined 4-of-14 and Brad Kelleher was just 1-of-4. Overall, the Dutchmen had just seven players play as many as 11 minutes while the Monarchs had eight players with at least 13 minutes.

5.) Still: If someone told you before the season—or, particularly, after the Iona game—that the Dutchmen would be 5-1 one-third of the way through the CAA season, you’d probably laugh him out of the room. Sure, there’s a long way to go, but the Dutchmen have already come a long way.

“We have five wins, we’re certainly still in the top of the conference as far as record and honestly, we could play a lot better,” Cassara said. “I think even some of the games we’ve won we have a lot of things that we can continue to build on and tonight was certainly not our best game. But I think we have a lot of good basketball in us still.

“I think, like Mike said, we showed to start this game that we have enough to compete with those guys. It was just a couple little plays here and there, the game got a little out of hand in the last minute or so, but it was really just a couple key plays here or there, a couple key rebounds, a couple stops, maybe a couple calls that might have gone our way and we were right there,” Cassara said. “All that being said, yeah, I’m impressed with [Old Dominion], but I also think that we can continue to stay at the top of this league.”

3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. Old Dominion, 1/15)
3: Mike Moore
2: Greg Washington
1: Charles Jenkins

Charles Jenkins 42
Mike Moore 22
Greg Washington 14
David Imes 12
Dwan McMillan 5
Brad Kelleher 3
Shemiye McLendon 2
Yves Jules 1
Stephen Nwaukoni 1

Email Jerry at defiantlydutch@yahoo.com or follow Defiantly Dutch at http://twitter.com/defiantlydutch.

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