Wednesday, September 8, 2010

ODU sked just what doctor ordered

It's not unusual to look at Old Dominion's schedule every year and be daunted. Not so this season. Before you Lady Monarch fans get up in arms, a bunch of patsies aren't on the agenda, either. We'll choose the word reasonable. ODU's schedule, released Wednesday, is reasonable considering the state of the program headed into the 2010-11 season.

We know what the rhetoric says. Every team releasing its schedule right now highlights how many opponents were in the postseason. That's not the glory statement it used to be, however. The WNIT expanded last season and the WBI was added.

Yep, we see the annual matchup against national power Tennessee is still on tap. Indeed, ODU opens against Georgia Tech, which returns four starters from a team that won 23 games and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. NC State is another lofty foe. The Wolfpack's 20-14 mark included wins over North Carolina and Virginia.

But we also see some manageable games for a team that needs to come out of the gates and build. Yes, ODU won the CAA regular season last year and won a game in the WNIT, but the bar for this program is far higher given the Lady Monarchs' storied history. Who's manageable? Florida, for one. The Gators are a big name in sports and they advanced to the WNIT last season, but their final record was 14-17 (including an 81-67 win in Norfolk). Charlotte, also in the WNIT, finished 18-14 but returns just two starters. Louisville, the NCAA runner-up a mere two seasons ago, was 14-18 last season with a seven-point victory over ODU in Cancun. Tulane, who ODU might play in a holiday tournament, had a gaudy 26-7 mark against a schedule ranked 106th. A Richmond team that was 18-11 and returns anticipated ACC first-teamer Brittani Shells should be a formidable test on the Spiders home floor.

NC A&T, Stony Brook and George Washington.....Those are three wins ODU should bag right now.

This is a good schedule for ODU and here's why. While coach Wendy Larry has always prepared her teams by going against the best of the best, a return game against Stanford is in no one's best interest right now. Nobody is saying the Lady Monarchs will beat Florida, Louisville, Tulane, Charlotte and Richmond, but they should be able to compete against this class of teams. They don't need to start another season 2-9. And the heavyweights (Tennessee, Georgia Tech) still offer opportunities to make a national statement. And let's not forget the CAA includes Dawn Evans returning for her senior year at James Madison and that kid from Delaware.

ODU fans are still longing for the glory days and who's to say they won't be back? That last Sweet 16 appearance was in 2007-08, a season, incidentally when ODU faced UConn, Tennessee, Purdue, Michigan State, Kentucky and Vanderbilt. This schedule is not that schedule nor should it be. But it's just what this team needs right now.

Can't wait to see how it plays out.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see Ladyswish give a fair overview of what is ahead for ODU. Something we don't get in the Virginian Pilot in the last few years. Their coverage has been lacking.