ODU Coach Trying To Sell Underdog Role Vs. Drexel

RICHMOND, Va. -- Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor didn’t talk a lot about Drexel, but he made sure that he mentioned the pecking order when the Monarchs face the Dragons in Sunday’s 2 p.m. Colonial Athletic Association semifinal.

“We are obviously an underdog,” Taylor said.

Oh really?

The Monarchs are the two-time CAA tournament champion. They lost to Drexel, 73-72 at home last week in the only game between the two this season. The game is at the Richmond Coliseum in their home state, although about two hours away.

Yes, Drexel is the top seed and entered as the tournament favorite, but the consensus is that VCU, ODU and George Mason could emerge as champion.

So the term underdog is relative.

And if ODU plays the way the Monarchs did in their 88-74 quarterfinal win over Delaware, then Drexel could be in for a long afternoon.

Still, Taylor, one of the better quotes in the CAA, tried playing the underdog role a little more.

“They (Drexel) had a story book season and we had a season that is a good story, but not story book,” he said.

What we saw against a Delaware team that entered the contest on a nine-game winning streak, was an ODU offense with plenty of firepower.

Five players scored in double figures, led by first-team all-CAA selection Kent Bazemore, a 6-5 senior who had 24 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

Chris Cooper, a 6-9 senior had an efficient 13 points (6 of 9 shooting) and eight rebounds.

In last week’s loss to Drexel, Bazemore went for 37 points, so stopping him will be the key.

And while ODU played as well as it possibly could against Delaware (at least offensively where the Monarch were 9 for 20 from beyond the arc), Drexel didn’t play its best game in its 59-47 quarterfinal win over University of North Carolina Wilmington.

So there is plenty of room for improvement for Drexel.

Yet, if ODU wins, it would be no major upset.

And if Drexel is victorious, the Dragons will need one of their more impressive efforts in a season in which they have won 26 games, including the last 18 in a row.

In short, if Drexel wins, it wouldn’t be defeating a major underdog, regardless of how Taylor attempts to paint this picture.

ODU shot 34 for 70 from the field, 9 of 20 from beyond the arc and 11 of 19 from the foul line. Delaware was 26-55 from teh field, 5-17 from three-point range and 17-25 from the foul line.

“We were contesting every shot and every shot they put up was going in,” Saddler said. “They were not missing and games like that happen in this tournament.”