Basketball fever has spread throughout Norfolk, VA, as thousands of loyal Old Dominion University Monarch fans welcome the new season with open arms. They could not have been more delighted to watch as their beloved team took the court for a preseason showdown against Mt. Olive College on Thursday, Nov. 1. Those in attendance saw some great basketball as the Monarchs cruised to a commanding 102 – 65 victory.
ODU jumped on the Mt. Olive Trojans from the outset, taking an early 25-5 lead. This was due in large part to junior guard Donte Hill. Hill accounted for eight early points, including two spectacular fast break dunks en route to 22 points on the night.
“I‘ve been taking more [of] a leadership role this season, but there’s a long way to go, long way to go defensively,” Hill said after the game, “closing out, getting back on defense. We’re going to work on that and move forward.”
There are many unfamiliar faces on the team this year. The Kent Bazemore’s, Frank Hassell’s and Ben Finney’s have all graduated and moved on, leaving way for a new pool of young players.
Two of those players include Aaron Bacote and Deion Clark. Bacote, a true freshman from Hampton, played a strong all-around game scoring 20 points and dishing out five assists in his first game as a Monarch. Guard Jordan McCain also played well and scored 18 points of his own.
The night clearly belonged to the Monarchs. “I was pleased to have [Richard] Ross back,” coach Taylor said, “I thought Donte Hill was a good leader, but really I thought Dimitri Batten was player of the game.” Redshirt sophomore guard Dimitri Batten scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds and did a good job of aggressively attacking the porous Trojan defense.
A lot is expected from big man DeShawn Painter as well. The transfer from North Carolina scored nine points and grabbed seven rebounds. Coach Taylor and his staff are expecting a lot from him but realize it may take some time. “We have to give DeShawn the benefit of the doubt because he’s new,” coach Taylor said.
Mt. Olive came out at the start of the second half looking to close the gap. They were able to get six quick points from guard Mahamed Ibrahim to draw closer. However, the aforementioned Hill quickly knocked down a three-pointer and the rout was on.
Perhaps the play of the game was made by ODU forward Richard Ross who, on subsequent possessions, blocked a Trojan attempt at a layup, and raced down to the other end to slam down a dunk off of an alley-oop pass to the delight of the Monarch faithful. ODU has a lot of young players that the team will look to develop throughout what the team hopes to be a successful year.
By: Jordan Jones
Assistant Sports Editor