Game #9-203: Virginia Cavaliers vs. Old Dominion MonarchsDecember 22, 2012 5:30 pm
The inaugural Governor's Holiday Hoops Classic at the Richmond Coliseum had started off with a bang
after George Mason's Sherrod Wright hit a buzzer beater to take down the Richmond Spiders. With a party going down in the GMU section, I headed down to the Coliseum bar for the 30 minute or so intermission between games. What I found was a sea of Virginia Cavaliers fans awaiting their presumed beat down of Old Dominion. Even former Wahoo quarterback Aaron Brooks was enjoying a holiday libation in the depths of the Coliseum.
Old Dominion had traditionally traveled well to the Coliseum. Campus is about an hour and a half from the state capital and the Monarch fans usually make a pretty good pilgrimage to the CAA tournament and to face their rival VCU. With ODU not eligible for the CAA tourny, because of their switch to Conference USA (BOOOO!), this would be the Monarchs only game in the Coliseum this year and maybe the last time ever. Despite that, their wasn't as much blue and silver in the stands as normal.
Part of it may have been the holidays, but it likely had to do more with the Monarchs surprising 1-10 record. Before the season started ODU fans spoke of an NCAA at-large, now they are a team merely fighting for pride. Seven of ODU's initial games were at home, but the Monarchs had still fallen to squads like Holy Cross, VMI, Texas-San Antonio, and others. So how do you motivate a squad who is 1-10 and with no hopes of even a conference tournament? I don't know, but Blaine Taylor did a pretty good job.
Virginia entered the day at 9-2, their lone losses had come against a pair of CAA opponents in Delaware and George Mason. How ironic... Despite a pretty cupcake schedule, the Cavs did have a big win under their belt on the road against Top 25 opponent Wisconsin. The main complaint from Wahoo fans seemed to be that they have been without their point guard Joe Harris for much of the year. I was trying to gauge how the season was going with a couple of UVA fans I bumped into in the Coliseum bar, no one really talked much about the team rather what a dump the Coliseum was.
At the beginning of the year this looked like a pretty exciting match up. ODU was a state power who was finally getting a shot at UVA on neutral floor. In sixteen years the Monarchs and Cavaliers had only crossed paths once and that was in Charlottesville. ODU took down UVA in that one in 2008 and knew they wouldn't be invited back for quite some time. Amazingly, during that span ODU had made to the NCAA tournament five times, while Virginia had just been four. Gearing up for the game I was hanging out with a group of friends who were a mixed bag of UVA fans, ODU fans, and non-partisan fans. We looked up the spread for the game, which was twelve, and we all gave our predictions. I had Mr. Jefferson's University taking this one by a 19 point margin. Man was I wrong...
I decided to name this game the "State Championship". It in no way reflects who the best team in the state is, and its a pretty random drawing of who plays in the "marquee" game of this event. But with the governor looking on in the state capital, why not? Especially when next year's match up of VCU and Virginia Tech could have the potential of being a real state championship.
When I returned from the bowels of the Coliseum bar I noticed there were a lot more seats filled and they were filled with orange clad patrons. The first ten minutes were a barn burner. We hit the first TV timeout with a 2-2 score (WOOOO!). Then the under twelve timeout hit with a score of 12-9 in the favor of ODU. You then started to hear the Wahoo faithful get vocal about everything but the the product on the floor. This was obviously two teams feeling each other out. The pace was pretty slow and I spent a good portion of the first half watching the ODU mascot "Big Blue" creep around.
Halftime hit and all seemed to be right with the world as UVA was up 25-20. It had the feeling of one of those games where the underdog hung around for the first half but would get their doors blown off in the second. Wahoo fans were still a little grumpy, but getting more content by the minute, especially with the help of another halftime libation.
My grandpa always said the first five minutes of the second half were the most important of any basketball game. It wasn't what ODU did in the first five minutes but rather what UVA didn't do. It was another slow five minutes where no one could score and Virginia just could pull away. Finally a Dimitri Batten three tied the game at 34 and Tony Bennett was forced to use a timeout for UVA. I took the opportunity with the big three and a reaction from the ODU crowd to try out the Gonzaga walk-on 3-TAR
and man did it feel good.
UVA would collect themselves, come out the timeout, and take care of business, right? Nope. Instead it was another Batten three and another Gonzaga 3-TAR as ODU took a 41-38 lead and never looked back. It was then the Monarchs pulling away. UVA would get back within a point or two in the waning minutes, but in the end your state champ was Old Dominion with a 63-61 victory behind 23 points from Batten.
Can a 2-10 squad be state champs? Sure, why not? This will certainly be the only championship ODU can claim all year.
On the other side of the red line upset were UVA fans. They were a disgruntled, angry bunch to say the least. On the exit from the Coliseum I heard excuses about the referees and other various aspects losing fans usually harp on. My favorite though was the Coliseum itself and that it was a hard building to shoot in. I've seen 50 plus games in this old jewel of an arena and I've never heard of such an excuse before.
O well...until next year brown beauty...
OLD DOMINION 63, VIRGINIA 61
VIRGINIA 9-3 (0-0) -- A. Mitchell 3-10 2-3 8; J. Harris 6-15 2-2 18; P. Jesperson 1-5 0-0 3; T. Jones 1-2 2-2 4; E. Nolte 4-7 4-5 15; D. Atkins 2-6 0-0 4; J. Anderson 0-1 0-0 0; T. Barnette 1-4 0-0 3; M. Tobey 3-3 0-1 6; D. Browman 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-53 10-13 61.
OLD DOMINION 2-10 (0-1) -- D. Hill 3-11 5-6 12; D. Painter 4-11 3-6 11; A. Bacote 5-10 4-5 17; D. Clark 0-4 0-0 0; D. Batten 8-13 2-2 23; R. Ross 0-3 0-0 0; A. Larsen 0-0 0-0 0; S. McEwen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-52 14-19 63.
Three-point goals: UVA 9-21 (J. Harris 4-9; P. Jesperson 1-3; T. Barnette 1-3; T. Jones 0-1; E. Nolte 3-5), ODU 9-23 (D. Hill 1-5; D. Batten 5-9; A. Bacote 3-6; D. Clark 0-3); Rebounds: UVA 29 (A. Mitchell 9), ODU 36 (D. Painter 11); Assists: UVA 13 (T. Jones 3), ODU 10 (A. Bacote 4); Total Fouls -- UVA 19, ODU 17; Fouled Out: UVA-D. Atkins; ODU-None.