he Ground and Pound of College Basketball". In that article, I talked about how Coach Blaine Taylor has a "philosophy of inside play, suffocating defense and depth that grinds opponents down". The Monarchs are a team that usually has a nine-ten man rotation that wears opponents down over the span of forty minutes. The games are generally low scoring, as Old Dominion has been one of the better scoring defensive teams in the CAA the past several seasons.
So when fourth seeded ODU took on fifth seeded Delaware in the second game of the afternoon quarterfinal session, most people expected a repeat of the first quarterfinal game between UNCW and Drexel, won by the Dragons 59-47. Everyone that covers CAA basketball (otherwise known as #CAAHoops on Twitter) figured on a low scoring, physical affair. What we all got was completely different.
In one of the funnier moments of the tournament, the Delaware pep band was playing Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" when the Blue Hens came out onto the court. After a few seconds, the band changed to the Delaware fight song. But the Immigrant Song sounded more ominous, so they should have stuck with it.
The Old Dominion student section fans made up for the Delaware Student section fans. First, they started a huge ODU chant three minutes before tip off. But the creme de la creme was a giant Kent Bazemore cardboard cutout that spanned half the student section. "Giant Bazemore" feature Kent with his two long arms and in each hand, he was palming a basketball. It was really cool to see in person.
Amazingly, the last eight minutes of the half would be even more exciting than the first twelve minutes. The Blue Hens scored the next six points, including a three by Kyle Anderson, to take a 30-29 lead. But after Chris Cooper hit one of two free throws, "Regular Size Bazemore" nailed a three pointer to put the Monarchs back up 33-30.
It was the most exciting first half of the tournament. Three Monarchs were already in double figures in scoring at the half. Bazemore scored fifteen first half points. Devon Saddler led Delaware with eleven points. ODU was six of ten from beyond the arc while Delaware was four of eleven. The other stats were pretty similar. The question was, could both teams keep up this frenetic pace for another twenty minutes.
Much to their credit, the Blue Hens didn't give up. They shot forty seven percent from the field in the second half. Saddler scored another twelve points on five of seven shooting. But he also committed five second half turnovers. That helped to lead to ten points off turnovers for the Monarchs.
The eighty eight points was their highest output since they scored nine eight points vs. Longwood in November of 2009. "Regular Size Bazemore" nearly had a double double with twenty four points and nine rebounds. He also added four assists. Bazemore was one of five Monarchs in double figures in scoring.
Perhaps it was "Giant Bazemore" that inspired Taylor to have his team play that way. It certainly worked for "Regular Size Bazemore". He certainly played like a giant in this game.