As CAA Basketball Media Day comes to a close in Arlington, VA, there were a lot of announcements, predictions, and interviews. Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor is never short with the media and always has some quirky quotes for them, especially after his team was picked to finish fourth in the conference in the 2012-13 season.
Old Dominion returns two starters–both of whom Taylor says, have been named team captains–from a 22-13 team last season. Senior forward Nick Wright is the team’s top returning scorer and rebounder. He was named preseason All-CAA honorable mention at media day. Junior guard Donte Hill will play more of a lead role this year with the absence of All-CAA guard Kent Bazemore. Both players have Taylor’s highest expectations.
“Nick is a fifth-year senior and so, he’s been through the wars and can lend some perception to the other kids about what’s going on,” said Taylor. “Donte is a [Tidewater] Area kid. I think he’s poised and ready to take the next step and maybe take a Bazemore’s spot.”
Joining Wright and Hill in providing experience to a youthful squad is North Carolina State transfer, DeShawn Painter. The 6-9 senior forward from Norfolk will look to provide an immediate impact in the post for the Monarchs, and was named a preseason All-CAA honorable mention.
“He’s established as a reliable post player at an elite level,” Taylor said about Painter. “It’s a breath of fresh air to come to practice and actually have a couple of guys who actually shaved before they came since the rest of them are so young. I do think the injection of an older player, which is a rare item in our program, will really help us this year.”
In regards to the non-shaving young guys who will be relied on for production this year, sophomores Dimitri Batten and Richard Ross both return from last year’s team. Batten is a 6-3 combo guard who can light it up from outside and be scrappy on the defensive end, scoring 7.9 points per game and leading the team in 3-point field goal percentage. Ross is a 6-7 high-flying forward who had a limited role last season, but showed flashes of explosion and defensive prowess – his athleticism on both ends of the floor will be influential on the opposition.
Freshman will be the last ingredient to the success of the 2012-13 Monarchs. Of the newbies, 6-10 center Ekene Anachebe was highlighted by Taylor on Tuesday morning.
“He’s a big ole boy,” said Taylor. “My dad told me when I started college coaching, get em big enough to eat hay off the top of the stack and pull the plough, and he can.”
In addition to the plough-pulling Anachebe, four freshman guards could see action this season. Keenan Palmore is described as “more of a point guard”, Ambrose Mosley is the “best defender”, Aaron Bacote is a “combo guard” and Deion Clark is a “wing player”.
The time the team spent in Greece over the summer was an experience Taylor hopes helped unite the team. ODU faces it’s first test on Nov. 9 against Morgan State in the Liberty Tax Classic.