Old Dominion Monarchs (27-7, 14-4)
Projected starting five:
Fr. G Dimitri Batten
Sr. G Kent Bazemore (out at least the first month due to injury)
Sr. G Trian Iliadis
Sr. F Chris Cooper
Jr. F Nick Wright
Three starters — F Frank Hassell (15.1 ppg, 9.4 rpg), F Ben Finney (9.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.0 apg), G Darius James (7.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 3.2 apg) — are gone from last season’s team, as is key reserve Keyon Carter (7.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg).
41.1 percent of scoring and 44.9 percent of rebounding
Jr. F Nayquann Mitchell, a junior college transfer
So. G Donte Hill, a Clemson transfer eligible in the second semester
Fr. G Dimitri Batten
Fr. G Breon Key
Fr. F Jason Pimentel
Fr. F Richard Ross (eligible second semester)
As is usually the case, the Monarchs will play a very tough nonconference schedule. They are in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off, where they open with South Florida and could play Kentucky, head to Richmond, Fairfield and UCF and welcome Missouri, Northern Iowa and Long Island. While they don’t have to go to Drexel, they get no other breaks as they play George Mason, VCU and James Madison twice each.
Projected finish and outlook:
The Monarchs are right there with archrival VCU when it comes to the question of who lost the most from last season’s team. This team lost a great deal of talent, size and winning experience, as that group won a lot of games and tournaments in their careers. They are left with a collection of largely talented but unproven players, save for Bazemore, who will miss at least the first month after fracturing the fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot. As if that’s not enough, Hill and Ross, both of whom figure to give this team a boost among the newcomers, will not be eligible until the second semester, with Ross in that situation due to academics.
That means players like Iliadis, Cooper and Wright need to make big leaps to become major contributors, while newcomers like Mitchell have to help right away, especially with the tough nonconference schedule that is in front of this team. The Monarchs are also likely to play a little differently since they don’t have the length that helped them succeed with their zone defense and was a big reason they owned the boards.
In all, it’s fair to say that there is a lot of newness to this team, and while they aren’t lacking talent, the Monarchs also aren’t lacking question marks entering this season. That said, the last time they weren’t clear-cut contenders, they did well, so Blaine Taylor has done well before with a team that lost a lot from the prior season.