Friday, December 21, 2012
game preview: Old Dominion
Date/Time: Saturday, December 22; 5:30
TV: NBC Sports Network
Record against the Monarchs: 9-4
Last meeting: UVA 80, ODU 76; 3/24/08, Charlottesville (CBI 2nd round)
Last game: UVA 75, Morg. St. 57 (12/19); CofC 76, ODU 65 (12/16)
UVA: 60.7 (#344)
ODU: 66.0 (#223)
UVA: 103.1 (#104)
ODU: 97.9 (#196)
UVA: 87.2 (#14)
ODU: 104.3 (#273)
UVA: .8487 (#33)
ODU: .3425 (#234)
Projected starting lineups:
PG: Teven Jones (3.9 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 2.4 apg)
SG: Paul Jesperson (4.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.5 apg)
SF: Joe Harris (14.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.5 apg)
PF: Akil Mitchell (13.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 2.0 apg)
PF: Darion Atkins (9.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 0.7 apg)
PG: Keenan Palmore (8.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.2 apg)
SG: Donte Hill (10.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.8 apg)
G: Aaron Bacote (7.5 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.2 apg)
PF: Nick Wright (7.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 0.7 apg)
C: DeShawn Painter (10.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 0.6)
Time was, scheduling and beating CAA teams was a decent way to keep your RPI looking nice and fresh. This year, not so much, especially here. Old Dominion has managed to fall hellaciously short of expectations and probably won't end up fourth in the conference as they were predicted to by the media before the season. If they do, the CAA is even worse than it looks now.
This game against ODU is part of something called the "Governor's Holiday Hoops Classic" which is not something you can win, it's just a way to try and get schools from the state of Virginia to play each other more often. And even then it's only two games this year and two games next and after that they'll see. UVA comes in with an eight-game winning streak, which is still shorter than ODU's current losing streak, and with any luck I didn't just jinx both of those and they can continue beyond Saturday.
-- UVA on offense
ODU's awful losing streak is probably about 2/3rds on their defense, which is poor. During those nine games, they've allowed 1.15 points per possession, a terrible number, and that's a stretch that hasn't been filled with good teams. Teams are hitting on more than 50% of their twos, almost 40% of their threes, which gives ODU's opponents an effective FG% of 55.2%, which in turn is 327th in the country. Not good. It'd be worse if ODU's opponents could shoot free throws (a stat, as you might guess, that is totally out of ODU's hands) but they're "allowing" a free-throw percentage of only 64.5. Decent foul shooting would push their defensive KenPom stat even further into the basement.
It'd be even worse if ODU didn't have a couple of guards able to create turnovers. Both Keenan Palmore and Donte Hill are getting two steals a game, which if you follow the mathematical logic is better than four points taken off the board for ODU's opponents. However, the Monarchs don't have good size in the frontcourt. NC State transfer DeShawn Painter is 6'9", 235, and center Anton Larsen (who sits at the very back end of the rotation with only 12 minutes a game) is 7'0", 240. That's the full list of rotation players over 220 pounds. What height they have is mostly of the lanky, skinny variety. This is where guys like Akil Mitchell and Darion Atkins will be salivating; they're almost certainly more athletic than everyone but Painter, and bigger and stronger too.
I didn't have any problems with the effort against Morgan State, but the mental rust from the finals break was plain to see and it resulted in a lot of sloppy play. ODU's guards are probably good enough to take advantage of a repeat. But as long as the team got their mind right, the opportunities will be there, probably time and time again. The Monarchs simply won't be able to guard both Mitchell and Atkins, maybe neither, and scoring should not be too difficult as long as the Hoos take care of the ball.
-- UVA on defense
Despite the losing streak, Old Dominion hasn't been a complete trainwreck on offense. I guess if that's the best you can say about them, they're not good, but at least they have a balanced approach. ODU uses a nine-man rotation, all of whom have started at least three games - it's not a settled starting lineup right now, obviously. And while their top two scorers - DeShawn Painter and Donte Hill - only have 10.9 and 10.2 ppg, respectively, the Monarchs do spread out the scoring, such that eight of those nine rotation guys score between 5 and 11 points a game.
Painter is the top cat in the Monarch offense, a legitimate scoring power forward (nominally a center, but at 6'9", not really - his game is much more forward than true 5) who can score out to about 15 feet and hits the offensive glass very well. Hill, though, is mostly a volume scorer. The reason he's got more points per game than Palmore is because he shoots threes and Palmore doesn't. Both guards will do their share of the ballhandling, to take a little pressure off of the freshman Palmore.
The rest of the ODU offense is pretty pedestrian. Freshman wing Aaron Bacote is a decent three-point shooter (really the only real long-ball threat on the team) but is a little on the turnover-prone side. Nick Wright and Dimitri Batten were much better shooters last year and haven't found the touch this season. ODU as a team is shooting three-pointers very poorly, and only back-of-the-rotation forward Richard Ross has a shooting percentage worth a second look. He's shooting .604; nobody else is above .460, and most of the team is below .410.
If ODU is going to shoot three-pointers that badly (that is, 318th in the country), UVA will probably be content to let them. Down low, only Painter is a threat, and UVA has proven capable of entirely closing down the paint to such players (think Jared Berggren) especially when they're not that worried about the opponents' alternatives.
Good for the game, not so good for the RPI. Fortunately, it's a neutral-site game, which won't help in the SOS category but will be a slight bonus (or actually, lack of home-court penalty) for the win. Assuming, of course, that we do. I see no reason not to be confident, though.
Final score: UVA 71, ODU 53