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Monarch Insider No. 27-CAA Tournament-Semifinal report

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

Monarch Insider #27 - CAA Tournament, semifinal report

It's on to the tournament finals for the Monarchs once again, to face a familiar foe

Brendan O'Hallarn Monarch Basketball Insider

I'm exhausted again. This time it was only two games, but the tension and the drama and the noise and the anticipation means I'm ready for another early night. Old Dominion handled Hofstra this afternoon 77-69, in a game that actually wasn't as close as the score indicated. Unlike Saturday's Delaware game, which hung in the balance with 10 minutes to go, I never got the sense the Monarchs were in any danger of losing to the Pride.

That didn't make the outcome any less satisfying, and now a familiar foe awaits the Monarchs in the tournament final Monday night.

My small, loyal core of readers knows that last year when we played VCU in the Tournament, the game was so tense and emotional I actually burst into tears when it was clear we were going to win. Here's last year's blog: http://www.odusports.com/ot/living-like-a-monarch37.html.

Well, hopefully if I'm crying again on Monday night, it's tears of joy. We play the Rams again, after they stunned top-seeded George Mason 79-63. Before the game, I floated from table to table, chatting with Monarch fans at the Alumni Association party across the street at the Richmond Convention Center. I told everyone who'd listen that we were going to beat Hofstra.

"Their center Greg Washington is 215 pounds. What's he going to do with Frank Hassell?" I said, as my closing argument for nervous Monarch fans. (Note: though a few ODU fans tease me as being a relentless optimist, I wasn't nearly as confident before the Delaware game).

Anyway, Frank Hassell proved to be simply too much for Washington and the rest of the Hofstra front line to handle. The Pride center fouled out, but he wasn't having much luck stopping Frank the Tank anyway, who finished with 22 points. Hofstra's wonderful guard Charles Jenkins got his points, finishing with 16. But he was matched by an unlikely ODU scoring star, point guard Darius James. ODU coach Blaine Taylor said he loved seeing James have a chance to fill the scoresheet.

"I was happy to see it from my standpoint. Darius has had to give himself to the team night after night, and not get as many shots as some other guys. Tonight, the way the Red Sea parted there -- they were worried about our posts, they were worried about our wings - he was there to take advantage of it like Moses," Taylor said.

At Tallwood High in Virginia Beach, James played on the wing, and averaged 20 points a game on a state semifinalist team. He can score, but knows his primary role on the team is to facilitate and distribute. He said the points are great, but he's more excited about the win.

"Tonight we came in and everyone settled in more, and once you see your first couple of shots going in, the hoop looks a little bit bigger. That wasn't the focus on me, I wasn't thinking about how many points I was scoring, how many points anyone else was scoring, at the end of the night, I just wanted us to have more points than them," James said.

ODU fans have been boisterous and knowledgeable for the two games in Richmond, knowing exactly when to rise to the moment to urge on the Monarchs. Expect a big crowd to make its way up I-64 on Monday, dressed in blue and white, ready to try and out-scream a horde in VCU black and gold.

I'll be one of them. I sit on press row, so I won't be screaming. But hopefully, I'll be crying again.

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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