The Second Post is Tougher Than the First

This is the best CAA preview from a national publication that I’ve seen

It’s not the most in-depth, but it is as close as I’ve seen to reality and what has occurred and what teams have added and subtracted. That said, I’ll add some meat to these paragraphs, hopefully to provide you with a better understanding of what you can expect this season.

That said, it all begins with Old Dominion. Fox Sports has named the Monarchs the number one mid major team in the country, and most other MM polls agree, give or take a Gonzaga.

You probably know about returning CAA POY Alex Loughton. He’s the 6’9” Aussie center that can comfortably take his defender to 15 feet. He was never much of a banger, but I was at an ODU practice two weeks ago and he looks physically stronger. Biceps can be identified. He is the unquestioned leader and deserves every accolade bestowed upon him. He also has a great nickname: Fruit Bowl. (He bruises easily.)

You also may know about Arnaud Dahi, the Monarchs’ swingman from the Ivory Coast. Dahi’s biggest issue has been his fitness. He plays hard but has historically been less effective the more he played. He also had shoulder surgery the week after ODU lost to Michigan State in the NCAAs. However, ODU coach Blaine Taylor told me that Dahi’s weight is down and he is in the best shape of his life. This is an important factor in ODUs long term success.

The player you likely don’t know is point guard Drew Williamson. He’s the under-the-radar weapon whose value is about five times what you see in the boxscore. Put it this way: Williamson played 91 minutes in last year’s CAA tournament and turned the ball over exactly ZERO times. He also has the ability to lock down a shooter. It says here that Williamson is ODUs most important player.

Isaiah Hunter may make an all conference team. He will have a handful of big shooting nights. He will be front-and-center for many of the ODU highlights this season. But he has only a set shot and a tendency to disappear in games. Though he is frequently mentioned among the elite CAA players, I believe he is only the fifth best on ODUs team, behind Loughton, Williamson, Dahi, and a scrapper with the initials VV.

Valdus Vasylius is a perfect role player: he scores a bit, rebounds a bit, defends hard, and sets screens. He is the lunch pail guy. And that’s why ODU is so good: Everybody has a role, and they are coached extremely well by Taylor. (And a new Director of Basketball Operations will help, too. Everybody has a role…)

There are a handful of bench players that are interesting, none more so than Sam Harris. Listed at 7’3”, Harris (a countrymate of Loughton) is not as geeky as one might imagine. He handles the ball well for his size, and has shown a decent touch. Still, he is a project, but at that height he is a force in a guard-oriented league.

Brandon Johnson is a defensive specialist and will spell Williamson at point guard. Abdi Lidonde was a highly touted freshman that showed flashes of brilliance two seasons ago, but was redshirted last year. He is an unknown factor. John Morris is another scrappy player who can become invaluable off the bench if he can find his shot, because that is the Monarchs biggest weakness: no real consistent outside threat.

STRENGTHS: depth, talent, coaching

WEAKNESSES: consistent shooting, overall strength

THREE QUESTIONS
1. Can Taylor, with such a deep team, keep everyone happy with their playing time?
2. Can ODU, if they are knocked off in the CAA tournament, play well enough to land an at large bid?
3. Will ODU find themselves coasting and lose a couple of games they should not?

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~ by mglitos on November 4, 2005.

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