Saturday, November 27, 2010

Lady Monarchs worth the price of admission (again)

You can have all the marketing campaigns you want. You can even have Justin Bieber courtside signing autographs (OK, make that Drake). But at Old Dominion, the best way to demand attention has always been with quality basketball. And as they have throughout most of their existence, the Lady Monarchs are delivering those goods once again.

Just watching Jasmine Parker alone is high drama. In Friday night's 69-65 victory over Louisville, for example, the senior guard made clean steals and went coast-to-coast for layups. Continually blew past her defenders in the half court. Drained huge perimeter shots. And basically took over the game at crunch time. But she also went down late in the first half and had to be helped off the court (this tends to happen to JP from time to time). And so began the game-within-a-game - "Is she OK? Which leg is it? Good, she's back in, but how's she moving? Is she favoring anything? You can't take your eyes off her.

As riveting as Parker was, though, the Lady Monarchs don't win Friday night without a lot of other players coming through, too. During arguably the game's most pivotal stretch, Parker wasn't even on the floor. With Louisville threatening to pull away up 7 in the second half - and Parker on the bench with three fouls:

   - Jackie Cook rediscovered the 3-point stroke that had been betraying her of late.
   - Shadasia Green essentially said, "Screw it, I'm taking it to the rack!"
   - Tia Lewis began asserting herself inside.

That it took a 7-point deficit for ODU to find fifth gear, well, who knows? But the fact is, once again these Lady Monarchs refused to let a game get away and came up with their best ball when they needed it most.

Even with all of this, Louisville has to be kicking itself for not closing ODU out. The Cardinals left a lot of a lot of points on the floor with missed free throws. They shot into some tough luck with rim-outs on easy shots down the stretch. And after intermission, we're not sure what happened to Cardinals star Monique Reid (13 points in the first half, 3 points on 0-for-5 shooting in the second).

Still, that the Lady Monarchs showed this same resiliency against Georgia Tech and even in defeat at N.C. State suggests Friday's result was less about what Louisville didn't do than about what ODU continues to do - attack each game with bulldog tenacity.

And that's definitely worth the price of admission.

By the way, after rooting against Louisville all night, Lady Monarchs fans should be cheering for the Cardinals - and Georgia Tech and even N.C. State - the rest of the season. For while these are "name" opponents, those teams will need to do well in order for ODU's early season results to have maximum value come tournament selection time.

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