The Fans: Two Students Blog on the CAA Tournament
It's hard to find two stronger supporters of the Old Dominion University Monarchs men's basketball team than Cameron King and Lauren Scolamiero.
The ODU students spent this past weekend at the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament in Richmond.
They were kind enough to keep a blog for this website, a fan's persepctive on rooting for the Monarchs.
"We're the biggest fans of ODU basketball, ever," Lauren said.
Although ODU came up a few baskets short in the semifinal against Virginia Commonwealth University, it was a great year for a team, and to be an ODU fan.
Here is Cameron and Lauren's recap of a wild weekend.
FRIDAY, MARCH 6, 9 A.M.
Welcome to the beginning of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament 2009!
Cameron and Lauren here. All weekend, hopefully until Monday night, we'll be blogging about the sights and sounds from Richmond.
After a furious finish in which Old Dominion won nine of its last 10 games, the Monarchs have achieved a 4th seed in the tournament. The top four seeds get a first round bye, and after the beginning of our conference campaign this seemed like a virtual impossibility.
After losing a very tough one, 58-42 to Northeastern at home, ODU has come back with a vengeance, led by junior forward Gerald Lee. Lee is averaging 15.7 points and 5.6 rebounds this season, and has been a monster over the 10-game final stretch.
In a press conference Monday, coach Blaine Taylor said, "I'd be pulling the wool over everyone's eyes if I said we weren't playing our best basketball."
The team has certainly picked an appropriate time to peak, and will need every bit of energy this weekend. Our likely opponent will be Hofstra -- the 5th seed in the tournament -- who will have to get by a struggling UNC Wilmington squad Friday night.
The Monarchs will be looking to avenge a nine-point loss to Hofstra earlier in the season, at Hofstra, the only meeting of the two teams this year. The Pride matches up well with Old Dominion in terms of size, athleticism, and style of play. This has the makings of a great college basketball game and the fans are getting geared up.
Even though the conference tournament marks the beginning of our spring break, this is not stopping students from showing their support for their team before traveling elsewhere.
Friends have already booked hotels for the weekend and are hoping to stay until Monday for the championship game to cheer on the Monarchs.
When Lauren asked Kirk Nawrotzky if he was carpooling with friends to save gas money he replied, "No, we are all driving up separately. We are all going home afterward."
Alumni tend to underestimate the "fandom" of us students, but the truth is, we are diehard fans. We don't have the luxury of having assigned seats at the Ted, so we stand out in the cold (sometimes for five hours) to be guaranteed a front-row seat.
Thankfully, we've been given the resources through Monarch Maniacs to be able to follow our team on the road. A bunch of us even went to the first-round NCAA Tournament game in Buffalo two years ago, when ODU received an at-large bid.
We "true" fans have taken full advantage of the opportunities that have been given to us to watch our team outplay other mid-major schools. We'll even be in Richmond Friday for the first round of the tournament, to get a feel for our opponent on Saturday.
Again, our game is Saturday at 2:30 p.m., against the winner of the Hofstra/UNCW game. It's going to be very exciting, so be there, and check back here through the weekend for a recap of how the Monarchs do.
FRIDAY, MARCH 6, 10 P.M.
The CAA Tournament is officially underway.
After driving an hour and a half to the Richmond Coliseum we began looking for a parking spot close to the action. We ended up paying $16 to park in the garage next to the Coliseum only to find out that starting tomorrow they are offering a special rate of $6.
Then we had to see if we could get our hands on some tickets. ODU Athletics only allots free student tickets to the games the Monarchs are playing in, so today we were on our own. Cameron got lucky enough to find someone on the street that sold him a ticket to the game and threw in a VIP pass. Jackpot.
We went inside the Coliseum and started scouting out the teams we would possibly play this weekend. We started talking with a lady that sat behind us and found out that the love for the Colonial Athletic Conference runs in the family.
She graduated with her bachelor's degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and went to Old Dominion University for grad school. Her husband went to ODU for undergrad and VCU for grad school. Their son is currently a sophomore at Old Dominion and the family loves coming together for an exciting college basketball game. She went on to say that other family members went to UNC-Wilmington, so it really was a family affair. There's no better place than the CAA tournament.
Between games, Cameron scoped out the VIP room and indulged in the free food catered from Buffalo Wild Wings. There is nothing that can make a college student happier than free food and drinks. While feeling very important in the VIP room he saw the Commissioner of the CAA, Tom Yeager socializing with fans and alumni.
While we were watching our possible match-ups play, UNCW and Hofstra, we realized that there were hardly any student fans from the other CAA schools this afternoon. Surprisingly, UNCW brought the most fans with them to the tournament, even though they are in last place. It's good to see that at least 10 students from UNCW still support the team.
Those who have been to the tournament know that Old Dominion travels very well and we normally have upwards of 100 students in the stands. Then again, we do have the best fans in the conference.
Hofstra won the game, 79-66, so we are scheduled to play the Pride tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. There were no blockbuster match-ups today. That's probably why it's called "Pillow Fight Friday." We are looking forward to cheering on our Monarchs tomorrow with fellow students and alumni. It is going to be a good game between the fifth seed and the fourth seed.
We are lucky enough to be staying in the Marriott next to the Coliseum where almost all of the CAA teams and coaches are staying. The lobby is decked out in CAA posters and every television is running statistics.
While walking to dinner we were stopped at a crosswalk, and as we walked across the street we noticed something that put a smile on our face. Everyone that we passed was wearing their school sweatshirts.
It just reminded us of how much pride we have in Old Dominion and that everyone else in the CAA is proud of their school and the conference they are a part of.
SATURDAY, MARCH 7, 8 P.M.
The Monarchs live to see another day as Old Dominion squeaked by the Pride of Hofstra by a score of 52-51. But it was truly a game that could have gone either way.
After watching VCU beat Georgia State, we joined the Old Dominion students and took our seats behind the basket in the student section. It was electric. We figured it would be a close game, but we had no idea what a roller coaster awaited us.
ODU jumped out to an early 9-2 lead, then Hofstra went on a huge run, pulling ahead 22-11. We fought back to within one at the half, 29-28.
During half time, Cameron was picked to do a segway race around the court. His opponent was a freshman from Hofstra that traveled all the way from New York. After four laps, Cameron won the race and the ODU fans in the stands cheered. We love supporting our own fans. Cameron won a gift bag full of CAA tournament goodies.
The freshman from Hofstra was cordial and shook Cameron's hand. Both went back to their student sections and continued to cheer on their respective teams.
The back and forth contest continued in the second half. ODU built a 10-point lead, only to watch it dwindle in the final minutes.
Much of the game was characterized by ice cold shooting for our guards. Luckily, the Monarchs have Gerald Lee in their arsenal.
We asked Ruben Sylva, one of the other ODU students at the game, what the key to victory was. "Gerald Lee must be on point," Sylva said.
Boy was he right. After bucketing a career-high 30 points, Lee was the captain that led our team to victory. Lee went 13 of 19 from the floor and collected 10 rebounds.
Hofstra also had its own star player in the mix, Charles Jenkins. The all-CAA player scored 27 points in the contest. Luckily for us, however, he was blocked on the most important shot of the game.
In the closing seconds, the Monarchs were up one with possession of the ball, attempting to inbound.
A stumble after the entry pass put the ball on the floor, and a mad scramble for the ball resulted in Hofstra taking possession.
With three seconds remaining, Jenkins had the ball and after a short dribble drive, put up the final shot. It was blocked handily by senior forward Jonathan Adams.
The fans went wild, knowing a semifinal match up with rival VCU was imminent. Justin Turner said the best part about being an ODU student is "not being a VCU student and not having to wear yellow." Spoken like a true Monarch.
After facing Virginia Commonwealth twice this year and barely scraping by with one win, we have a big challenge ahead of us tomorrow with our biggest rivals.
VCU has a sort of home-court advantage, since the tournament is held only a few miles away from their school's Seigel Center. This means that VCU will bring out more fans and will put up a fight as to not lose in Richmond.
The game is at 3 p.m. tomorrow, so be sure to watch and cheer on the Monarchs if you can't make it to the Coliseum. If we beat VCU we will be playing in the championship game on Monday night, for the CAA title and a ticket to the NCAA Championship.
Wish us Old Dominion fans luck, because it's going to be another nail-biter.
SUNDAY, MARCH 8, 12 P.M.
Well here we are again, the rivalry continues between the Monarchs and the Rams at 3:00 this afternoon. Sports Illustrated online reportedly said that this match-up could be the best mid-major game of any of the year-end conference championships.
When we were waiting for our game yesterday, we were in the stands surrounded by VCU fans. They continually gave us a hard time and that was only a taste of what we are going to experience later today.
We are anxious for the game to start. Our nerves are high in hopes of winning this game.
Yesterday we didn't fill up our student section so we are hoping that - because of the rivalry - we will have more students make the road trip. Even though we are on spring break, there is nothing better than ODU and VCU battling it out in the CAA tournament.
The players are trying to remain calm and focused because so much is at stake here. If we win today, we will play the winner of the George Mason/Towson tomorrow. The Patriots gave us fits earlier this season.
May the best team win and go on to the championship game tomorrow. We will update later either celebrating our win or mourning or loss.
SUNDAY, MARCH 8, 6:30 P.M.
Tough loss. Guess you can't win every game. We thought we had a chance in the first half, but after Gerald Lee and Ben Finney got in foul trouble, then Lee hurt his ankle late in the first half, we just couldn't pull off a win.
There was no stopping Eric Maynor tonight. Then again, you really can't stop a two-time CAA of the year.
ODU students started waiting in line outside of the Coliseum at 12:30 to guarantee a spot on the floor. We heckled VCU and had a good time with our rivals. Or about as good a time one can have with the team we hate the most.
We were absolutely pumped at the beginning of the game. Up by 10 points at one point, we thought we were going to play in the championship game tomorrow.
During halftime we were up 29-28 and when the second half was about to start and Gerald Lee didn't come out of the locker room, we started to get scared.
Lee ended up playing in the second half, like a trooper. Wincing in pain, he attempted to run up-and-down the court but just couldn't sink a basket. Only making five points the whole game is a completely different player than we saw on the court yesterday. But we give him so much credit for getting out there and trying to play in pain. He is the glue that holds our team together and we are glad to see a player with so much love for the game.
The best team won. VCU is playing George Mason tomorrow at 7 p.m.
We put up a fight but in the end, we just couldn't pull it off.
But the good part is we've got our whole team back, except senior forward Jonathan Adams. We're already excited for next year.
This article was posted on: March 6, 2009
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