Nov. 20, 2009
12th Blog: Gotta get my Monarchs fix; talking to the "cavalry"
By Brendan O'Hallarn
I am an addict. I officially am obsessed with ODU basketball.
I arrived home in Williamsburg and went out to pick up dinner. It was nearing game time so I said a silent prayer that Iíd hear the soothing tones of radio broadcaster Ted Alexander when I flipped to FM 94.1.
"Downtown Lynchburg is quite a beautiful place. If you get a chance to go here..."
After listening to the first five minutes of ODUís strong performance against Liberty on the radio, I arrived home with dinner and dropped it on the counter so it could be served my wife (this blogís TRUE most valuable player) and sprinted to the computer to try and find a feed of the game.
So I settled in, ate Indian takeout food, and watched the Monarchs dismantle Liberty University, 73-41.
Keyon Carter led the Monarchsí offensive explosion, scoring seven points including three of three from behind the three-point line. Heís six-foot-eight! In fact, so are two of ODUís other supposed bench players, Chris Cooper and Nick Wright. With Frank Hassell and Gerald Lee occupying the two starting forward spots, the three reserve big men are sacrificing their own playing time to suit up with the blue and white.
After Tuesdayís win over Longwood University, I sat down with the "cavalry," 20 feet of big men, (six-foot-eight times three) to talk about what itís like to play on such a big team.
Carter, a junior from Riviera Beach, Fla., is like a shooting guard trapped in a forwardís body. Heís an effective rebounder and has a good assortment of low post moves, but Carter is particularly deadly from 15 feet and beyond, creating mismatches with other teamsí defenses. Heís the first forward off the bench, but itís clear heíd start on many other teams in the Colonial Athletic Association.
"I would rather be here coming off the bench and be successful than go somewhere else and be starting, but averaging two wins a season," Carter said. Wright, the redshirt freshman from Suffolk, wears his enthusiasm on his sleeve, clapping his hands after baskets, smiling a bunch. He had four points Thursday against Liberty.
His friend Cooper from Dumfries, Va., who was in the same recruiting class but is a sophomore, scored eight points Thursday. Soft spoken and serious-looking, Iím not sure Iíve seen him smile on the court once in two months of watching practices and games.
"Weíre one and the same. Coach (John) Richardson calls us dumb and dumber. When I do something ... when I start to smile he starts to frown. When I start to frown he starts to smile," Wright said.
The playersí games are wildly different as well. Cooper is a banger, establishing position down low and fighting for rebounds. He knew he was joining a team full of big, physical players when he chose to come to ODU.
"I like to win. I saw this team had the ability to win games. I wanted to be a part of it," he said.
Wright is more agile, and uses his leaping ability to block shots and sky for rebounds. But nobody will ever accuse him of being a physical presence on the block.
The fact that these three battle every day with starters Lee and Hassell, along with seven-foot redshirt Anton Larsen, means theyíre ready to face anything when the real action starts.
"It gets you prepared for the games. A lot of times, practice is a lot harder than the games," Carter said.
"Itís tough, but it pays off come game day, because the other teams, they donít have the size that we have, or they donít play as physical as we do."
Brendan's Blog 46