A Look Back and Ahead at Monarch Basketball
Brittany Reigelsperger | Contributing Writer
The Old Dominion Men’s Basketball (19-12, C-USA 12-6) season ended with a heartbreaking 64-63 lost to Marshall in the quarterfinals of the 2017 Conference USA Tournament. Prior to the season, ODU head coach Jeff Jones said the team wouldn’t compete in any postseason tournaments other than the NCAA Tournament or the NIT and they didn’t receive a bid to either.
“You always like to have a chance to play one more. I cannot fault our effort at all. Just like these guys have most of the year, I thought they really battled. They showed a lot of character when we got down as much as we did early on to fight back. Ultimately, we found out that the self-inflicted wounds, often times, are too difficult to overcome,” ODU head coach Jeff Jones said.
They started the season 2-0 before losing two straight at Battle 4 Atlantis including a six-point loss against in overtime against then No.10 ranked Louisville. ODU finished non-conference play with a 7-6 record with quality wins against Richmond and St. John’s. Their winning record during nonconference play set them up for success during Conference USA play where they managed to tie for third place with a 12-6 record.
ODU played their best at the tail end of the season winning five of six games to end the season. The six-game stretch included three wins by more than 20 points.
Although the Monarchs season was cut short, three players garnered Conference USA honors. Senior Denzell Taylor was named to Conference USA All-Defensive team after leading them in rebounding with 7.5 per game.
“Denzell’s impact on the program has been significant,” said ODU head coach Jeff Jones. “Even though you can’t look at statistics and say he did this, this and this. Having a guy like that makes everyone else better,” Jones said.
Zoran Talley was named C-USA Sixth Man of the Year and Ahmad Caver was received All-Conference USA third team honors. Talley came off the bench in 20 of 26 games and averaged 11.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. Caver filled his new role as starting point guard perfectly as continued to improve throughout the season. Caver led the team in scoring with 13 points per game, 4.8 assists and 1.3 steals with 13 points, 4.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game.
The two will be key for the Monarch next season as well as the Stith brothers and sophomore Trey Porter who stepped up this season when Brandan Stith missed a few games with an ankle injury. The quartet are the top returnees for a team that will bring back 84 percent of its scoring and 74 percent of its rebounding.
ODU will be losing two graduating seniors forward Denzel Taylor and guard Jordan Baker. Also, junior guard Randy Haynes and freshman guard Travis Fields will be transferring. Despite these departures, the future looks bright for the Monarchs. Their 2017 recruiting class includes two three-star guards Michael Hueitt Jr and Marquise Godwin that will add much-needed shooting to the roster. Hueitt Jr. is from Fayetteville, NC while Godwin is from Hampton and attended Hampton High School. The duo will look to contribute off the bench next season.
“Expectations are always dangerous but I think we have a chance to be a very good basketball team. But you can think all you want you better put in the hard work and do the heavy lifting that you’ve gotta to do. Both figuratively and literally. It’s a lot of commitment, a lot of sacrifices, a lot hard work, a lot of sweat and hopefully a little bit of luck thrown in there,” Jones said.