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2011-12 College Basketball Season Preview: Old Dominion

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Old Dominion Monarchs (Last Year: 27-7, 14-4 in CAA)

2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:

F/C: Chris Cooper (Sr)/Anton Larsen (So)

F: Nick Wright (Jr)/Nayquan Mitchell (Jr)/Richard Ross (Fr)/Jason Pimental (Fr)

G/F: Kent Bazemore (Sr)/Donte Hill (So)

G: Trian Iliadis (Sr)/Dimitri Batten (Fr)

PG: Marquel De Lancey (Sr)/Breon Key (Fr)

Gone: F/C-Frank Hassell, F-Keyon Carter, G/F-Ben Finney, PG-Darius James, PG-Josh Hicks (transfer)

2011-12 Outlook:
Blaine Taylor has built Old Dominion into highly competitive mid-major program. The Monarchs have made the NCAA Tournament four of the past seven seasons and plus have a .750 winning percentage in the Colonial Athletic Association during that span. The team loses four starters from last year but should still be a threat to win the CAA and head back to the Big Dance.

Senior wing Kent Bazemore is the only starter back and will be Old Dominion's go-to scorer a year after finishing second on the team in points per game. He must provide the leadership in the backcourt since it loses a lot of experience with four-year starters Darius James and Ben Finney having been graduated.

Despite just scoring six points a night, Trian Iliadas is the second-highest returning scorer. He was the first guard off the bench last season and figures to move into the starting lineup. That could change once Clemson transfer Donte Hill becomes eligible, after the first semester, since he offers more versatility on the wing. Until Hill is able to suit up, redshirt freshman Demitri Batten will be the only reserve on the wing.

Marquel De Lancey has served as the backup to James at the point for the past two seasons and will finally get his shot to be a starter. He is more of a pure point guard and has not shown a real knack for scoring. Freshman Breon Key will serve as the backup. He brings good size and length to the floor and is also a capable outside shooter.

Chris Cooper figures to follow in the recent line of talented post players like Gerald Lee and Frank Hassell. Cooper is a force on the boards and a solid shot blocker who served as the team's sixth man a year ago. Besides Cooper, a lot of uncertainty surrounds the frontcourt.

Nick Wright saw limited playing time last while 7-footer Antone Larsen was used sparingly. They are the only returning players with any sort of Division I experience. Redshirt freshman "The Teflon Don" Richard Ross (that's not really his nickname but if you are a hip-hop fan, you get it), JUCO transfer Nayquann Mitchell, and true freshman Jason Pimental will all try to work themselves into the mix.

In losing a lot of veteran players, this will be somewhat of a transition season for Old Dominion. Still, Taylor should be able to keep the Monarchs in the CAA championship hunt due to their relentless style of defense.

Player to Watch: Kent Bazemore, G/F
Not only is Bazemore Old Dominion's most dangerous offensive weapon, but he is also the CAA's reigning Defensive Player of the Year, partially due to his pestering length. He can handle the rock, get to the basket, and was the team's top 3-point shooter last season connecting on 40.8% of his triple tries. Needing to take on a bigger role this season as the lone returning starter, Bazemore figures to be a CAA Player of the Year candidate.

Key Non-Conference Games:
  • 11/12 vs. Northern Iowa
  • 11/19 vs. South Florida (Hall of Fame Tournament)
  • 11/20 vs. Kentucky/Penn State (Hall of Fame Tournament)
  • 12/9 at Farifield
  • 12/17 at Central Florida
  • 12/20 at Richmond
  • 12/30 vs. Missouri
  • 2/18 vs. TBA (ESPN BracketBuster)

    Predicted CAA Finish: 2nd

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