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Monarch Insider No. 26- CAA Tournament-Quarter Final Report

Courtesy: ODU Athletics
         
Release: March 06, 2011
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March 6, 2011

Monarch Insider #26 - CAA Tournament, quarter-final report A tough scrape with Delaware, and now it's onto the semifinals Brendan O'Hallarn

Monarch Basketball Insider

In conversations with friends since the CAA Tournament draw was unveiled (OK, many, MANY conversations with friends) I've likened Saturday's quarter-final game as a check in a box.

Whether we played Delaware or Northeastern (it turned out to be Delaware) we weren't going to receive much credit as a team for a win, and our national reputation would suffer with a loss. The win was all that mattered, no matter how ugly.

Well, mission accomplished, 59-50. But I'm just fine with not seeing that Delaware team for a long, LONG time. For whatever reason, what they do really messes with what we do. They beat us in Wilmington before Christmas. They had us on the ropes in our rematch at the Constant Center. And last night, the Fightin' Blue Hens simply refused to go away.

We erased an early, nine-point deficit, but Delaware stayed within a few points until late in the second half. Were it not for a heavy dose of our experience, including Frank Hassell's 23 points and 10 rebounds, we could have fallen in yesterday's quarter-final.

The game had all the hallmarks of a first-round tournament game for a favored team. Some shots rattling in and out. More than a few careless turnovers. Ben Finney dropped a homerun pass from Darius James when he was all alone for a dunk. That's the first time I've seen that all season.

But in remarks afterwards, Coach Blaine Taylor was measured, not being overcritical about his team, but making it clear that the Monarchs have to play better on Sunday.

"We can play better than we did today, we'll probably have to. But we did enough," Taylor said. "I think one of the keys of the game was when we settled down. We had nine turnovers in the first half, and most of them in the first 10 minutes. I joked at one timeout, `Well, I'm glad we've got that out of our system.' Everybody took their turn in the barrel." The team settled down and turned the ball over only three times in the second half, and scored on 13 of 15 possessions late in the game.

During a stoppage in play, in the middle of a flurry of ODU turnovers, Finney (looking irritated) bent over to tie his shoe. James sidled over to him, bent over beside him, and reminded Finney of one of Taylor's pet expressions - FIMO.

"We have a saying we go by, FIMO, which means Forget It, Move On. I was just making sure he didn't dwell on that, and that he'll get the next one," James said.

"Even though we're seniors, and we've got a lot of experience, everyone's out here trying to do good so bad. We've got a little jitters, but like Coach said, we've gotta get it out of our system."

Monarch Basketball Insider has gone interactive for the CAA Tournament. I'm doing a live blog for the weekend, at http://monarchbasketballinsider.blogspot.com/. And I've got help.

Lauren Scolamiero, a 2010 ODU alumna, is adding her perspective to the blog, as the team's "embedded" fan. Here's a sample of one of her blogs from yesterday:

Lauren Scolamiero here again and what a great third session of the CAA Tournament. The buzz is definitely in the air inside the Coliseum and people are flittering all around like they don't know how to contain themselves.

I'll put it this way, the CAA Tournament to an ODU fan is the equivalent of Christmas Day to a five-year-old.

While I was watching the Georgia State/George Mason game I couldn't help but feel really bad for Georgia State. No, not because they lost, but because they had NO students in the student section. I was really considering asking security if I could be the lone soldier down there because I didn't want their end of the court to look so pathetic.

Although, if I survived a 14-hour bus ride to Buffalo back in 2007 when we made it to the NCAA Tournament, they can too. Come on Georgia State, you can do better than that!

Yesterday was a very full day. I arrived at the Richmond Coliseum at 9:30, and I'm so glad I did. For the first time, the CAA Tournament hosted a band jam - featuring the conference's three preeminent pep bands - George Mason, Virginia Commonwealth and Old Dominion. It was awesome.

Each band played two of its favorites, followed by an over-the-top, nine-minute jam featuring all three bands.

Alex Trevino, director of bands at ODU, said despite the obvious differences between the three schools' pep bands, they have far more in common than they have differences.

"That was our point in doing this today," Trevino said. "We all do things differently, but the foundational skill set is the same. You could take a student from Mason's band and put them in ours, and vice versa. They'd have to learn the choreography, but once the music starts, it's still music."

Trevino, who's worked at big conference schools, said you're not likely to find three bands in the same conference that play at such a high level anywhere in the country.

Chris Byrd, a sophomore Spanish major in his second year with the ODU Pep Band, said it was interesting to stand with the George Mason band immediately to his right, and the VCU band immediately to his left.

"On the court we're rivals, but it was fun to play together. The sound was great," Byrd said.

There's a short video of ODU's band performing on the blog site, and watch for the epic, nine-minute, three-band jam on this website later this week.

Today, I'm pumped about ODU's semifinal, but the basketball fan in me is almost as excited about the first game on the docket. Top seed George Mason taking on the Tournament's de facto home team, VCU. I'm ready for my ears to bleed from the noice.

Go Monarchs!

Brendan O'Hallarn, an employee in public relations at Old Dominion University, writes Monarch Basketball Insider. To see other stories, please see the Monarch Insider website, at http://www.odusports.com/ot/monarch-insider.html. If you would like to share your thoughts about ODU basketball, or have a story you'd like to see Brendan write, contact him at brendanwork@hotmail.com.

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