Friday, July 5, 2013

UPDATED: Ohio State, Marist, Duke on tap for ODU but no UConn anymore

Ohio State, Marist, Duke? No doubt Old Dominion fans must like the sound of those opponents even if previously announced UConn isn't in the mix.

The Lady Monarchs will play Ohio State (Nov. 22) in the 2013 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Challenge. Games will follow in Columbus, Ohio, against Bowling Green (Nov 23) and Marist (Nov. 24).

The other campus pool of teams for the first event of its kind will be played at UConn with the defending national champions pitted against Monmouth, St. Bonaventure and Boston University.

All eight teams will play in a Dec. 1 quadruple header at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass., starting with Bowling Green vs. Monmouth, Boston University vs. ODU (12:15 p.m.), Marist vs. St. Bonaventure and UConn vs. Ohio State (5 p.m.).

"I really like our bracket," said ODU coach Karen Barefoot. "I know it will be competitive and good for our team."

Last August when the tournament was originally announced, ODU was in the pool of teams hosted by the Huskies, and Monmouth was in the Ohio State pool. Barefoot said the switch was made to avoid Monmouth having to play Marist three times in a season as both of those teams are in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.  The Huskies figure to be the unanimous No. 1 team in the nation in every poll.

ODU will play at Duke on Jan. 2. The Blue Devils fell to Notre Dame in the Elite Eight, a game played at the Constant Center, in March. The home-and-home series will bring Duke to the Constant Center the following season in what will be an opportunity for Virginia Beach native Elizabeth Williams to play in front of friends and family.

ODU will also host Virginia Tech and play VCU and William and Mary.

ODU, which officially joined Conference USA on July 1, has not announced its full 2013-14 schedule, but already Barefoot has upgraded the nonconference slate (ranked 207 in last season's RPI) significantly. Last season's opponents included Maryland Eastern Shore, USC Upstate, North Carolina Central and South Carolina State.

"We want to break into the Top 25," Barefoot said. "And we wanted to keep our local rivalries. I think our fans will love this team. We're growing and ready to turn the corner."

In other ODU news, Barefoot said she hopes to hire an assistant coach by mid-July. It will be an emergency hire, she said, meaning traditional NCAA hiring procedures can be bypassed to ensure the position is filled quickly. Barefoot's former assistant, Amaka Agugua, took the assistant coaching position at Michigan State on July 1.

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