Tuesday, March 16, 2010

ODU vs. American in WNIT tipoff

The goal all season has been to open the postseason at home, but this isn't what Old Dominion had in mind - a first-round WNIT encounter with American University Wednesday night at the Constant Center. Meanwhile, the role ODU really wanted, participating hosts of two rounds of NCAA Tournament action at the Ted this weekend, will be assumed by James Madison.

The Lady Monarchs still have plenty to play for, though. And if they can approach WNIT play with the same zeal and mindset they would have brought to an NCAA appearance, they might find themselves still chasing a title long after most of the NCAA-bound teams have finished for the winter.

American (22-9) at Old Dominion (18-13), 7 p.m.

Local connection: Game will provide a homecoming of sorts for American sophomore point guard Raven Harris, a former star at juggernaut Princess Anne High in Virginia Beach.

Meaningless stat: ODU is 22-1 lifetime against American, a one-time CAA member now playing out of the Patriot League. But the teams haven't met in nearly a decade, so none of these players have anything to do with it.

Home sweet home?: The Lady Monarchs are just 2-3 in their last five games at the Constant Center.

At stake: The winner will meet Thursday's Providence at Boston University winner in the second round, date and site to be determined.

About the matchup: The biggest thing about American is they don't beat themselves. Led by Patriot League Player of the Year Michelle Kirk, they make their free throws, don't turn the ball over and hold their own on the boards. If a team like this gets comfortable, it'll carve you up. The Eagles aren't a great offensive team, though, and we feel as though Old Dominion's defense, led by guards Jasmine Parker and Kquanise Bryd, can disrupt a lot of what American wants to run. Too often, however, the Lady Monarchs offset their nice work at one end of the floor with a sloppy turnover at the other. At this stage of the season, it seems clear that this ODU team is simply going to have to live with more giveaways than optimal. What they can control is re-asserting themselves on the boards, something they've struggled with of late. If the Lady Monarchs defend with passion and take care the glass, their turnovers probably won't kill them. Oh, and a return to offensive form by Shadasia Green would help, too. Green is pretty central to what ODU wants to do but has seen her shot desert her the last four games.

Key to the game: Who really wants to play? Both teams fell one conference championship loss short of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament - American on Saturday, ODU on Sunday - and apparently the Lady Monarchs went into Monday still holding out faint hopes for an at-large bid. Everyone is saying the right things about laying it on the line Wednesday night, but often teams simply can't - or won't - perform in the WNIT with their usual conviction. We're not saying this will be the case for either of these teams. But given how much both had their hearts set on playing in the NCAAs, it's a fair question.

No comments:

Post a Comment