Monarchs Struggle to Find Team Niche
It was a brutal upset Tuesday, Dec. 4 as the Richmond Spiders defeated the Monarchs 80-53, marking Old Dominion’s sixth consecutive loss in a row as well as Richmond’s first win in Norfolk since the 2000-2001 season. Held at the Ted Constant Convocation Center, the Monarchs hosted the Atlantic 10 Conference team in what was projected to be one of the season’s strongest and most anticipated matchups.
In the first half, Old Dominion struggled tremendously on offense and had a difficult time scoring and handling the basketball. Richmond anticipated passes well. The team is currently averaging 8.9 steals per game, forcing 16.5 turnovers per game and scoring 19.8 points per game off turnovers.
Playing a tight man-to-man defense, Old Dominion struggled to create scoring opportunities and continued to force inside passes to seniors Nick Wright and DeShawn Painter posted on the blocks, which often times resulted in a turnover. It was a relatively low-scoring game until Richmond pulled ahead, gaining a 19 point lead with two of their players, Cedrick Lindsay and Wayne Sparrow, hitting back-to-back three pointers with two minutes left in the first half. Heading into halftime, Old Dominion trailed Richmond 19-38.
Returning in the second half, Old Dominion continued to have trouble scoring and the team’s defense collapsed as some players lost focus, becoming mentally affected by the game’s frustrations. Defensively, the Monarchs lacked communication and weak-side positioning, leaving Richmond players open for second and third shot opportunities.
Additionally, the Monarchs struggled to cover Richmond power forward Derick Williams, who proved to be hard to defend not only because of his physical size, but because of his ability to aggressively attack the basket inside the key.
Old Dominion failed to double down on Williams on the post, allowing him to dominate offensively and draw personal fouls. Although the Monarchs had a slight height advantage over the Richmond Spiders, Williams provided Old Dominion with evidence of a defensive flaw that they need to improve for future games.
The Monarchs had 37 total rebounds and shot 31.7 percent from the field. Taking advantage of Old Dominion’s offensive mishaps and poor defense, the Spiders finished the game scoring 21 points off turnovers and 10 points off fast breaks.
Although the Monarchs had difficulties competing against their veteran Richmond opponents, Old Dominion is moving forward and remaining optimistic. “It’s an unusual year, some things we are facing; the schedule, the newness of the kids and trying to figure out what they are supposed to do and when is a challenge. Missed cues and missed layups are stuff we can solve,” head coach Blaine Taylor said.
By: Sarah Condon