Sunday, March 6, 2011

Five pregame thoughts: Old Dominion

1.) Rebounding, rebounding, rebounding. See? Just like yesterday with Quinn McDowell, sometimes this stuff is so easy, even I can do it. Old Dominion relies on rebounding dominance as much as anyone in the country. The Flying Dutchmen probably can’t expect to outrebound the Monarchs—if they do, we’re all staying another night down here!—but David Imes, Greg Washington and Mike Moore have to minimize ODU’s advantage. Imes has been outstanding the last six games, during which he has averaged more than 10 rebounds per game. He must stay out of foul trouble for the Dutchmen to have a shot. Washington needs to be a bigger factor than in the regular season game against Old Dominion, when he had just two rebounds, and contribute like he did in the 2009-10 game in Norfolk, when he had seven boards. Moore will almost surely see time at the four if Imes or Washington gets in foul trouble and needs to make a few of those sneaky trips into the lane for the board.

2.) Make shots. Again, it’s just so easy! Of course Old Dominion doesn’t make it easy to make shots, but the Monarchs’ rebounding prowess is negated if the Dutchmen are hitting shots, which they haven’t done in their last three games against ODU, all losses. The Dutchmen’s shooting percentages in those defeats; 37.3, 35.8, 34.6. Of course, in their last win over the Monarchs, the Dutchmen shot 38.5 percent. So they don’t need to shoot the lights out, just make a few key shots. Fortunately for the Dutchmen, Brad Kelleher played his best game of the year, by far, last night but they’ll need Moore and/or Charles Jenkins to find their form from beyond the arc. It helps the Dutchmen got hot from the field in the second half against William & Mary and got used to the quirks of the Richmond Coliseum rims. As usual, if Kelleher or Shemiye McLendon hit multiple 3s, the Dutchmen will be in good shape. We’ll also take a 3-pointer from Matt Grogan!

3.) The Dutchmen can’t let the environment intimidate them. Not much flusters the Dutchmen, but then again, they haven’t played in an elimination game against a favored Virginia-based team in Virginia. From fan support to, err, other factors (i.e. the hilariously officiated VCU-Drexel game yesterday), the Dutchmen will be facing a stacked deck today. The Dutchmen and Mo Cassara have to stay calm when the momentum, the calls and the buzz of the building are all going against them (though I imagine Mason or VCU fans will be rooting for Hofstra, how weird would that be?).

4.) Staying focused if Old Dominion gets off to a fast start shouldn’t be a problem, though, because the Dutchmen are brimming with confidence after their two most lopsided Division I wins of the season. Granted, Delaware and William & Mary aren’t near the level of Old Dominion, but the Dutchmen are beginning to click on all cylinders and getting ever closer to that almost perfect game Cassara believes the Dutchmen have in them. Today would be a great time for that to appear.

5.) Charles Jenkins: The Wolf. Jenkins has never forgotten how bad he felt when his last-second shot against Old Dominion two years ago tomorrow fell short and the Dutchmen lost by one. Putting the Dutchmen on his back today and carrying them to the CAA championship game would further cement his legend as the best player to ever suit up for Hofstra. The good news is he didn’t have a trademark Jenkins game yesterday, so he’s got something in reserve. If it appears tonight the Dutchmen have a good chance to be playing tomorrow night.

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