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Monarch Insider No. 3 - ODU Big Men Ready To Go To Work

Courtesy: ODU Athletics
         
Release: September 05, 2010
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Sept. 5, 2010

After a busy summer, ODU big men ready to go to work

By Brendan O'Hallarn Monarch Basketball Insider No. 3

I live in Williamsburg and earlier this summer, I ran into a guy I recognized as an assistant basketball coach at the College of William and Mary. We made small talk and I complimented him on their excellent season.

When I mentioned that I work at Old Dominion, he gushed about how the Monarchs have a never-ending supply of good players, particularly quality big men. And with the system Blaine Taylor and the other coaches have put in place, many ODU Monarchs spend a full five years in our program by using a redshirt year.

"Sometimes, we think to ourselves: `You mean we have to face (ODU forward Frank) Hassell again??" the coach said.

I have some bad news for the friendly William and Mary assistant, indeed for every coach in the conference. Not only are Frank and fellow forward Keyon Carter back for their fifth year (they both redshirted their freshman year). They've been working out like crazy this summer.

Hassell is monstrous. He's put 15 pounds on his six-foot-eight frame.

"My main goal this summer was my body, getting bigger and stronger. I was in the weight room a whole, whole lot," Hassell said. "Summer's the hardest part. It's so easy to relax. It's easy to kick back."

Hassell and Carter have done the opposite. The two forwards met shortly after last season and pledged to help set the tone for the team's summer workouts. Then they lived it.

"A month ago, my family took a vacation to the Bahamas on a cruise ship for a week. And I gave my ticket away," Hassell said. "I didn't even go, because I wanted to stay and work out."

Carter has worked an internship for his sport management degree with CBS Sports Properties in the Athletic Administration building, about 100 feet from the team's practice gym.

Carter is just as big and strong as ever. His focus this summer was in the gym. For three weeks, he worked with former ODU center Cal Bowdler, honing the skill-set he'll need to step into departed center Gerald Lee's big shoes.

"Cal has been around the program and has seen me develop and has targeted a lot of my weaknesses, like going left, and he showed me a lot of footwork stuff that I really soaked in and absorbed to add to my game," Carter said.

"Just a lot of footwork, creating space in tight areas, creating contact and finishing off of that ... just things that I really didn't know how to do." Carter said just as valuable was spending time picking Bowdler's brain.

"I kind of want to pattern myself off of him, because Cal had a lot of success, and he was sort of self-made," he said. "He has a lot of basketball knowledge; he was a very crafty player. I've kind of learned a few of things that helped make him successful. I hope to incorporate them into my game this season."

Both big men got a taste of big time basketball last season with the trip to New Orleans for the NCAA Tournament. It's an experience they want to enjoy again for their senior year. But Carter said a big season awaits the team before they even get to that point.

"We don't want to look too far ahead. I don't want to set an ultimate goal of reaching the Elite Eight, when there are so many things that lead up to that," he said.

"But we've got a lot on this line this year, that's for sure."

Hassell is hoping for a big senior year, but he also hopes that his competitive playing days don't end with the NCAA Tournament this season. He'd like to play pro basketball, and for a long time.

"I want to stay at this size, 260, and just push it out, play as long as I can. I'd like to think I could play another 15 years," he said. "I'm just going to play every game like it's my last this year. I have to."

Brendan would love to hear from you this season, basketball fans. If you have thoughts, or an idea for an Insider profile - be it a player, team official or fan - please let Brendan know at brendanwork@hotmail.com.

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