Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Old Dominion hosting Miami - A great opportunity?

Old Dominion fans should embrace the chance to see their Lady Monarchs host a high-profile opponent - Miami, Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Constant Center - because in recent history games like this haven't come along that often.

Over the previous four seasons, only three non-conference teams that finished the year with an RPI inside the top 100 have visited the Constant Center during the November-December window:

   - Richmond (46) in 2011; California (9) in 2012; and Duke (15) in 2014.

The Lady Monarchs lost all three games. ODU did beat Navy (RPI 71) during in the 2014 WNIT first round. But in terms of games under the Lady Monarchs' scheduling control, the team's best non-conference win over these four years came in 2014 against VCU (RPI 141).

Miami, which reached the second round of the NCAA tournament last season, ended 2014-15 with an RPI of 56. So we feel comfortable in pegging these Hurricanes as easily one of the four best non-conference visitors scheduled by Old Dominion during Karen Barefoot's tenure.

Furthermore, we'll go as far as to say that, with two games under their belts, the homecourt advantage and an All American-caliber performer (Jennie Simms) in the fold, Barefoot-coached Lady Monarchs have never been better positioned this early in the season to engineer a victory of this quality. Not perfectly positioned, mind you - ODU is still young and/or inexperienced in key spots, the halfcourt offense remains a work-in-progress and Miami's no joke.

But this is as good a set-up as ODU has ever had under this coach in a November game against a big-time team.

Let's see what they do with the opportunity.

Motley's Crew

- Tuesday night's game marks a return to Hampton Roads for Miami junior guard Adrienne Motley, who starred at Newport News' Woodside High before taking her talents to...well, you know. The 5-9 Motley earned first-team All-ACC honors after averaging 16.9 ppg (fifth-best in the conference) and generated national buzz by dropping 32 points on eventual NCAA tournament finalist Notre Dame in a stunning upset victory.

Prior to arriving at Miami, Motley was a flat-out scoring machine first at Hampton Roads Academy and then at Woodside, where she occasionally matched wits - and jumpers - with current Old Dominion guard and then-Warwick High standout LaQuanda Younger.

Motley isn't the only star hooper in her extended family, either. Her second cousin, 6-1 junior Megan Walker of Monacan High, is currently No. 1 on ESPN's ranking of the nation's top recruits in the Class of 2017.

Survival of the fittest? 

Both Miami (2-0) and Old Dominion (1-1) will be playing for the third time in five nights. But Barefoot has indicated the Lady Monarchs have trained specifically with this kind of grind in mind. The coach spoke confidently about her team's ramped-up strength and conditioning efforts during the offseason, and she doubled down on those comments after Sunday's victory over Wagner.

In short, their coach has talked the talk. Now it's up to the Lady Monarchs to walk the walk.

Key matchup

The Lady Monarchs have hounded their two opponents into 44 turnovers, including 17 from Wagner in Sunday's first half alone. But this won't be the first tough defense rodeo for these Hurricanes, who have experience aplenty at the guard slot with Motley (64 career games, 61 starts), junior Jessica Thomas (64 career games, 34 starts) and redshirt senior Michelle Woods (95 career games, 30 starts).

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