AS RIVALRY RENEWS, VCU CAUTIOUS OF BATTERED MONARCHS

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VCU topped Old Dominion 68-64 last season in Norfolk.

VCU topped Old Dominion 68-64 last season in Norfolk.

RICHMOND, Va. – Let’s not sugarcoat it. Old Dominion Basketball is navigating some choppy waters these days.

Tuesday’s 80-53 loss to Richmond, the Monarchs’ worst defeat in the 11-year history of the Ted Constant Convocation Center, was the most recent and painful blow to a season that has opened with a resounding thud. ODU, which won the Colonial Athletic Association title as recently as 2010, is 1-7, including home losses to UT-San Antonio, Holy Cross and VMI. The Monarchs have lost six straight.

VCU Coach Shaka Smart has seen the film of ODU’s struggling offense and uncharacteristically porous defense. None of it has walked him back from what he knows to be true: the Monarchs are dangerous. On Friday, the Rams (5-3) will walk into the den of a wounded animal. The Monarchs will be angry, hungry and will have a packed house behind them.

“It’s VCU-ODU, so if our guys think the game is going to come easily, then they’re not in the right frame of mind,” Smart said. “I think our guys have a lot of respect for Old Dominion, particularly the older guys that have been around.”

Smart is referring to players like seniors Troy Daniels, David Hinton and Darius Theus, who likely haven’t forgotten the sting of losing the 2010 CAA Championship Game to Old Dominion or the 68-64 barnburner the Rams won last season at the Constant Center.

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RAWWWRRAWWWWK STAR?

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Friday, in honor of Star Wars Day (May the fourth be with you…get it?), I asked for VCU Basketball/Photoshop submissions. It was on a whim and the first time I’ve called on the Around The Horns faithful, but I was reasonably pleased with the results. Would’ve loved to see more Eric Maynor as Luke Skywalker action, but that’s okay. I had to pass on some good ones that were related to conference realignment rumors. Sorry, but I can’t get mixed up in that stuff.

For now, I’m going to feature this submission from Stephen Southhall, which cracked me up and should yield some angry comments from ODU fans that I’ll have to delete. It’s all in fun, people.

Rawwwwwwwwwrk star?

HAPPY STAR WARS DAY

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I’m terrible at Photoshop, so you need to help me. Send me your best VCU Basketball/Star Wars photoshops at ckowalczyk@vcu.edu and I’ll post the best ones here. May the Smarts be with you.

PHOTOSHOP IS LIKE, THE BEST THING EVER

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I don’t mean to pile on, but this is too amazing not to post.

AROUND THE LEAGUE

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I wish I had time to talk to every CAA coach, but I did manage to get to a number of them. Here are some of their thoughts on the 2011-12 season from media day.

MEDIA DAY MEDIA

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VCU’s Shaka Smart ready to move past Final Four run (USA Today).

CAA Media Day: CAA no longer a ‘faceless’ mid-major (Richmond Times-Dispatch).

Winning takes more than just talent (Richmond Times-Dispatch).

Latitude adjustment? Dragons aim for first northern CAA hoops title (Wilmington Star News).

Things I learned today (CAAHoops.com).

This little ditty has been burning up the basketball forums. Blaine Taylor being Blaine Taylor, taking thinly veiled shots. He should just have gotten on the roof of Champps yesterday and screamed, “Hey, I won two CAA Championships! Somebody please notice! Please?” ODU Coach Taylor: “The tournament can make rock stars out of very average people.” (Commonwealth Times).

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