I always enjoy it when Virginia is able to play one of its in-state brethren (other than the Hokies, obviously) in basketball. This year we have two very good squads on the schedule - George Mason and Old Dominion. Recently, I was lucky enough to be in contact with Carol Hudson, Jr. - Old Dominion University's Athletic Communication Director.
Now, Sports Information Directors don't normally get a lot of publicity, so you'll be excused if you don't recognize the name. But regardless, Hudson is a bit of a legend. He's been an SID for more than 30 years, including five at Hampton University and the last 27 at Old Dominion. In July 2010, he was inducted into the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Hall of Fame.
Needless to say, it was an honor to be able to get Mr. Hudson's thoughts on ODU and the upcoming basketball season.
Streaking the Lawn: How important is it for you to play other schools in the Commonwealth, especially in an event like the Governor's Invitational?
Carol Hudson, Jr: This event affords us the opportunity to play teams we have not played in a long time. While ODU has played the majority of The Commonwealth’s Division I teams, this will only be the second time since 1996 we have played the Cavaliers. The last time was the CBI Post Season Tournament quarterfinals.
STL: Old Dominion finished the regular season last year 19-12 (13-5 CAA) and followed that up with wins in both the CAA tournament and the CIT. What has your team lost and what has it gained since then?
CHJ: This will be the youngest Blaine Taylor squad in about nine years with six freshmen and a total of seven newcomers. DeShawn Painter, a 6-9 senior and Norfolk native transferred from NC State and will be a big help in the middle. We lost 6-5 Kent Bazemore the two-time CAA Defensive Player of the Year. He graduated and is now with the Golden State Warriors. Also lost All-CAA forward 6-9 Chris Cooper who averaged a double-double 10.5 ppg and 10.1 rpg.
STL: The Monarchs were picked to finish fourth in the CAA this year. Do you think that's a reasonable prediction?
CHJ: I think it is reasonable, we have been in the top four each of the last 8 years and have advance to post season national play each of the last 8 years (4 NCAA, 2 CIT, 1 NIT –semifinal, 1 CBI). We are very young, but Blaine Taylor teams are always nationally ranked in rebounding and defensively. Last year, we were 20th nationally in rebound margin and led the CAA in rebound average (40.2), and 10th nationally in steals.
STL: Which ODU player do Virginia fans need to watch out for most this year?
CHJ: This year’s squad, there is no one player like a Kent Bazemore or a Gerald Lee or Frank Hassell of the past four seasons. Junior co-captain Donte Hill, a 6-4 guard, along with co-captain, 6-8 forward Nick Wright and 6-9 forward DeShawn Painter who comes to us from NC State are probably three to watch.
STL: Which of Virginia's players gives you the most concern?
CHJ: Not sure if I am qualified to answer this one, but I would think Joe Harris and Jontel Evans.