My close pal since college, Mike Holtzclaw, has followed the Old Dominion women for many years. His wife, Vicki Friedman, is the longtime ODU women’s beat writer for the Virginian Pilot in Norfolk. Mike has covered sports and entertainment for the Daily Press in Newport News, Va., and he offers this take on ODU’s recent encounters with two powerhouses:
This is how a 29-game home winning streak turns into a two-game home losing streak. Old Dominion hosted Tennessee on Thursday and Maryland on Sunday and lost both games despite leading in the final minutes.
Against Tennessee , ODU was up 71-70 with less than two minutes left. But too many missed shots and too much Angie Bjorklund (29 points on the game) quickly turned that around. Bjorklund’s 3-pointer started Tennessee on a 9-2 run before ODU’s Jazz Walters hit a long 3-pointer in the final seconds. A couple of free throws finished off Tennessee ’s 81-76 victory.
Three days later, ODU led Maryland 63-62 with four minutes left but lost 74-65 after the Terrapins finished with a 12-2 run. It’s certainly worth noting that Maryland took 39 free throws and ODU just 14. So much for “home cooking,” huh?
Don’t know if this tells us anything new about ODU, since we already knew that the ‘Narchs can hang with anyone on their home court. But it’s not a good sign that they were outrebounded 56-38 by Tennessee and 53-43 by Maryland, and in both games they had a couple of really poor possessions down the stretch. ODU plays at Ole Miss next week before beginning their annual slog through the CAA. We’ll see where they are come tournament time.
OK, now, you either believe there is “something” to weird “coincidences … or you don’t. I think it’s more fun to believe there’s something to them. So here’s what happened. Last night after I sent in my poll vote, I went to bed and then at some point before falling asleep was struck by a case of voter’s remorse.
I thought, “I should not have taken ODU out of the rankings just because it lost to Tennessee and Maryland.”
I suppose I could have gotten up and re-sent my poll … but I guess it wasn’t a severe-enough case of remorse for me to get out from under the covers when it is about zero degrees outside. So …
Then I woke up and found Mike had sent me an e-mail about ODU to put on my blog. …. Weird, huh?
The other thing is that it actually started getting crowded at the end of my poll. I decided it was time to bring in Florida – I’m behind most, if not all, the AP voters on that, because I was holding out until the Pitt game _ and New Mexico. I didn’t want to drop Pitt. So …
I did something that could be folly, and perhaps I’ll have to make up for next week: I dropped Vanderbilt out. Vandy is one of those teams that always seems to get the benefit of the doubt from voters, and I’ve been in that group a long time. But with their RPI of 145 and SOS of 327, the Commodores looked ripe for booting. At least this week.
So here it is for Dec. 21:
1. Connecticut, 2. North Carolina, 3. Texas A&M, 4. Texas, 5. Baylor, 6. Oklahoma, 7. Duke, 8. Tennessee, 9. Stanford, 10. Louisville, 11. Auburn, 12. Notre Dame, 13. Maryland, 14. Cal, 15. Rutgers, 16. Virginia, 17. Georgia Tech, 18. Ohio State, 19. South Dakota State, 20. Kansas State, 21. Florida, 22. Wisconsin, 23. TCU, 24. New Mexico, 25. Pittsburgh