As I raced down Interstate 64 east from Williamsburg after enjoying Old Dominion's last regular season game of that other sport that we don't talk about, I crossed what will most likely become an unfortunate new "friend" of mine as this basketball season progresses. The wonderful Hampton Roads Bridge and Tunnel contains four of the eight lanes of traffic that connects the million or so residents of South Hampton Roads to the rest of the outside world. As one can imagine, the flow of traffic over this bridge more often than not is well below the posted speed limit. In planning multiple trips to the pair of mid-majors in Richmond and places beyond, I'm expecting to spend a lot of time staring at brake lights. Similarly, Monarch fans are going to be spending a lot of time deliberating the bridge between the known and the unknown. ODU graduated four starters last season which ended in a heartbreaking fashion on a Matt Howard put-back as time expired in the second first round of the NCAA tournament a few hours north in Washington D.C. vs. Butler. Returning only 42 percent of their scoring, no one really knows where the Monarchs will end up this season with projections ranging from first all the way down to seventh. Compounding matters, preseason CAA player of the year, Kent Bazemore developed a stress fracture in his foot playing in a summer league and was expected to miss the first month of the season. Also, redshirt freshman Richard Ross and role player Nick Wright were suspended for the first semester and three games respectively for violations of team rules. This left the Monarchs just eight scholarship players including two true freshmen and the first JUCO transfer of Blaine Taylor's tenure at Old Dominion. Northern Iowa came to Norfolk for a Bracketbuster return game from the 2009-2010 season. In that game a player whose name who be learned by the entire nation a few weeks later, Ali Farokmanesh, dropped a career high 23 points on the Monarchs in a 71-62 win. Northern Iowa shot over ODU's zone D, hitting ten #superhoops and leading comfortably most of the game. UNI also led comfortably throughout the 2011 version of the game, taking their first lead on a three pointer just before the first media timeout and never looking back. The Monarchs looked lost at times on both ends of the court. ODU shot just 27 percent from the field, only making a paltry 12 field goals. On defense, the zone defense played by the Monarchs for most of the game once again created open looks on the perimeter with UNI shooting 49 percent. One of Old Dominion's recent strengths had been rebounding, but the Panthers even nullified that advantage with both teams grabbing 32. The final score of 63-46 could have been much worse for the Monarchs had Bazemore not have a quick recovery from his foot injury. He went from playing just six exhibition minutes to thirty in the season opener and becoming ODU's only scorer in double digits with seventeen. Most Monarch fans knew that this year was going to have a very long start but we hope the team can bridge the gap to becoming something resembling the last four years. Twitter: [6:07] Awwwwwwww yeah http://img.ly/aob6#TMM8 [6:58] Game #1 of my #TMM8 season: Northern Iowa at Old Dominion [7:00] This is a Bracketbuster return game from 09-10. [7:11] Starting slow. 4-2 UNI at the U16. [7:20] ODU looking like a team returning only 1 starter. Down 14-6 at the U12. [7:28] UNI putting on a double-up 24-12 at the U8. [7:51] ODU down 33-25 at the half. Big Blue just Tebowed. [8:13] 46-29 UNI with 15:02 to play. We are missing Blaine Taylor's mustache. [8:32] ODU down 54-36 at the under eight. Going to be a tough team to watch until they start to gel. [8:38] ODU down 20 and #Peopleareleaving with 4 to play. [8:46] ODU just pulled off a 5 point play but is still down 19 with 2:02 left. [8:55] UNI 63-ODU 46. Ugly as the score shows for ODU. #TMM8 game 1 in the books, thankfully.
NORTHERN IOWA 63, at OLD DOMINION 46 11/12/2011
NORTHERN IOWA 1-0 (0-0) -- J. Koch 6-8 3-3 18; M. Sonnen 4-7 3-3 12; J. Moran 1-4 0-0 3; A. James 6-15 0-1 13; D. Mitchell 2-5 0-0 4; M. Martino 1-2 0-0 3; C. Rank 3-6 0-0 8; S. Tuttle 1-1 0-0 2; N. Buss 0-0 0-0 0; M. Singleton 0-1 0-0 0; T. Lange 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-49 6-7 63. OLD DOMINION 0-1 (0-0) -- M. De Lancey 0-3 2-2 2; T. Iliadis 3-8 0-0 8; K. Bazemore 3-8 10-13 17; J. Pimentel 3-6 2-3 8; D. Batten 2-7 0-1 6; C. Cooper 1-8 0-2 2; B. Key 0-2 3-4 3; A. Larsen 0-1 0-0 0; N. Mitchell 0-0 0-0 0; S. Rogers 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 12-44 17-25 46.
Three-point goals: UNI 9-23 (A. James 1-5; J. Koch 3-5; J. Moran 1-3; M. Sonnen 1-4; M. Martino 1-2; C. Rank 2-3; D. Mitchell 0-1), ODU 5-17 (K. Bazemore 1-4; T. Iliadis 2-5; A. Larsen 0-1; D. Batten 2-5; B. Key 0-1; S. Rogers 0-1); Rebounds: UNI 29 (D. Mitchell 6), ODU 29 (C. Cooper 9); Assists: UNI 12 (A. James 5), ODU 9 (M. De Lancey 4); Total Fouls -- UNI 24, ODU 14; Fouled Out: UNI-None; ODU-None.