ODU HIGHLIGHTS AND ‘FREE’ LAUGHS

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This is the worst free throw ever. I’m not asking. I’m telling you. It’s not close.

DANIELS’ ‘PROCESS’ ELIMINATES MONARCHS

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Senior Troy Daniels tied a school record with eight 3-pointers in Friday's win at Old Dominion

Senior Troy Daniels tied a school record with eight 3-pointers in Friday’s win at Old Dominion

NORFOLK, Va. –Scott Day was at lunch this summer when the call came in from Shaka Smart. The VCU coach wanted to ask his sports information director, “what was the school record for 3-pointers in a game?”

Day didn’t have to look up the answer; it wasn’t the first time Smart had asked this question. “Eight”, he told the Rams’ fourth-year coach.

“Troy will get that this year,” Smart said, referring to senior shooting guard Troy Daniels.

In the moment, it was clear that Smart’s insistence over the years that Daniels was an elite shooter – the best he’s ever coached, he said – wasn’t some calculated pressroom creation or public coaching ploy to prop up his senior’s confidence. He believed every word of it.

Friday, Daniels rewarded Smart for his faith when he tied Bo Jones’ 13-year-old school record with eight 3-pointers in the Rams’ 83-70 win at Old Dominion. Daniels hit eight of his first 10 from long range and finished 8-of-13 from that distance. He scored a career-high 24 points.

It’s probably not fair to watch Daniels hit a school-record 94 three-pointers last year and still expect more, but many observers did. But Smart’s steadfast endorsements of Daniels’ marksmanship in practice foretold of nights when he could break an opponent’s back with a series of long range bombs, of nights when he’d hit six, seven, eight 3-pointers and leave opposing coaches with nothing left but to tip their caps. Friday was one of those nights.

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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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DARIUS THEUS INJURY UPDATE

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Senior point guard Darius Theus is averaging 8.4 points and 4.7 assists per game this season.

Senior point guard Darius Theus is averaging 8.4 points and 4.7 assists per game this season.

RICHMOND, Va. – Shaka Smart said Wednesday that Darius Theus’ status for Friday’s game at Old Dominion is still unclear, but there’s a good chance he could play.

“I think so,” Smart said. “[Athletic Trainer] Eddie Benion’s very optimistic about it.”

Smart said Theus has been receiving treatment on his right knee “around the clock” and has practiced the last few days, but not “full out” and isn’t 100 percent. As important as he is to the Rams’ success. Smart says he’s not going to rush his senior point guard.

“I want to be cautious,” he said. “It’s  is a long season and he’s a very important for us. But he’s determined to play. The game is 10 minutes from his house.”

Theus injured his right knee in VCU’s 92-56 win over Stetson on Nov. 28 and missed the Rams’ win over Belmont on Dec. 1. It snapped a string of 43 consecutive starts for the Portsmouth native. It was just the second missed game of Theus’ VCU career. He is averaging 8.4 points and a team-high 4.7 assist per game.

In two games against Old Dominion last season, Theus averaged 14.5 points and shot .471 from the floor.

Sophomore Teddy Okereafor started in Theus’ place against Belmont, but struggled in 12 minutes. Instead, sophomore Briante Weber earned the lion’s share of playing time.

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