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Monarch Insider - After Redshirt Year, ODU's Larsen And Hicks Ready to Charge the Court

Courtesy: ODU Athletics
         
Release: September 19, 2010
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Sept. 19, 2010

After redshirt year, ODU's Larsen and Hicks ready to charge the court

By Brendan O'Hallarn Monarch Basketball Insider

They're a bit of an unmistakable pair ... the stocky, six-foot North Carolinian, and the long-limbed, seven-foot Dane. For the past year, you typically don't run into one around campus without seeing the other.

Last season was tough for Josh Hicks and Anton Larson, the redshirts on the ODU men's basketball team. But after a season getting faster, stronger and learning the university game, both are eager to contribute to ODU basketball on the court.

"I've been counting down the days ever since I decided to redshirt," said Hicks, who was a guard on a state champion team in North Carolina his last year of high school. "It was tough going from basically playing all game to having to sit on the sidelines, not playing at all, not dressing out with the team, having to watch."

Larsen's transition -- from the less-physical, more shot-heavy European style of basketball he played growing up in Denmark to the faster, more physical brand of hoops played in the States - meant he was glad to spend a year on the sidelines learning.

"I definitely needed that year. It did me good. It made me understand the game a little better. Getting used to the tempo, the speed, the strength," Larsen said. Not that it was easy, working hard in practice and the weight room, but not having the reward of playing in the actual games.

"I think it was good thing that there were two people redshirting ... we were going through the same things, and could help each other," Larsen said.

Hicks said they'd often pick each other up if one or the other had a tough practice, reminding the other of the things that had gone well. Which led to the other byproduct of a shared season on the sidelines: despite their different upbringings, Larsen and Hicks have become good friends.

"We're roommates, so we spend a lot of time together," Josh said. "At the start of last year, we didn't really know each other. But then as the school year went along, we started hanging out a lot more."

The difficult academic transition of living away from home was helped by the fact they didn't have the extra time preparing for games, Hicks said. Larsen said he'd never done a multiple choice exam before coming to Old Dominion. After a rocky start, the grades for both have stabilized, and they're looking forward to a good academic year.

On the court? They can't wait.

Old Dominion has a history of redshirting players, and Hicks and Larsen need look no further than three of this year's projected starters - Kent Bazemore, Frank Hassell and Keyon Carter - to see the value of a redshirt year.

Bazemore, a blossoming star guard, said it was tough to go from being "the man" to having practice as his only competitive outlet.

"But after a while, I felt myself getting better, getting stronger, getting faster, learning the game," he said. "I used to love practice. Practice was the games to me. The players would be tired, I'd be running around like a chicken with my head cut off."

I asked Kent what advice he'd give the freshmen as their redshirt comes off. "Just take what you learn, take the experience, and use it for hunger. That's what I did. I took that year off, and I came out and said `Everybody's going to pay for me having to sit out.' That was my mindset."

An employee of ODU University Relations, Brendan O'Hallarn writes Monarch Basketball Insider for ODU Athletics. If there's an inside "scoop" you'd like on the team, email Brendan at brendanwork@hotmail.com.

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