Mizzou mens basketball will finish their non-conference schedule tonight in their first true road game. They will travel to Norfolk, VA to take on the Old Dominion Monarchs (6-6, 1-0 in CAA). But as with every opponent Mizzou faces, there is more to a university than the team on the floor.
Old Dominion University was originally established in 1930 as an establishment of the College of William and Mary. During this time, it was known by the nickname “The Division”, as it was established as the Norfolk division of William and Mary. In the initial development of ODU, funds from Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal benefited the school, and allowed an administration building and Foreman Field, which is still in use today, to be built. These buildings provided the foundation for the campus that continued to expand throughout the years.
In its early days, The Division was a two-year college, but as it continued to grow it was able to offer four-year programs. By 1962, it had grown so much that it was able to gain its independence and become Old Dominion College. Its emphases were on educating teachers and engineers as it developed four-year programs. The change to Old Dominion College caused even more growth in enrollment and research facilities allowed it to gain university status and become Old Dominion University in 1969. ODU’s expansion has continued to this day, and it currently enrolls 24,466 total students.
ODU’s academic programs emphasize topics that are immediately relevant to its students, primarily focusing on science, engineering, and technology. With the campus being in an urban setting, students are given plenty of opportunities within the city to learn about issues that can impact them both inside and outside of school. Overall, ODU offers 64 different undergraduate programs and over 90 masters and doctorate programs. It also has a great deal of international programs, given its location on a major port city. It offers 11 international language classes, and has an good study abroad program, which includes trips to England, Italy, and Mexico, among others.
Old Dominion is located in Norfolk on the eastern coast of Virginia. It was built on the opening of the Chesapeake Bay, and has a considerable sized natural harbor, which is what most of the city is built around. The downtown skyline directly borders the shore of the harbor, creating a unique piece of scenery with large boats docked alongside high rise buildings. Because of the location of Norfolk, it has been used as a military transportation point, and is home to both the Norfolk Naval Base, the world’s largest base of its kind, and the headquarters of NATO. The bustling city of 242,803 people offers plenty to do both on and off the water. There are harbor cruises on boats of all kinds, ranging from small ferries to huge cruise ships.
Another attraction for sports lovers in Norfolk is Old Dominion athletics. The Monarchs and Lady Monarchs compete in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) in 18 sports. Monarch teams have combined to win 28 national championships and 49 CAA championships. They have been strong in men’s and women’s sailing, likely due to their location and access to a large body of water, winning 15 national titles since 1982. They have also won nine field hockey national titles, and also account for three women’s basketball championships, the most recent one coming in 1985.
The men’s basketball team doesn’t have any national titles to their name, but they have had their fair share of success over the years. They have won six CAA conference championships, including back-to-back titles in 2010 and 2011. They have made the NCAA Tournament eleven times, making it as far as the second round three times. Their tournament careers have included some dramatic games, including a 51-50 upset of sixth seeded Notre Dame in the 2010 tournament, and an 89-81 overtime victory as a 14 seed over third seeded Villanova in the 1995 tournament.
This year’s team, who lost to Butler on a last second tip in by Butler’s Matt Howard in last year’s NCAA Tournament, has started out 6-6. They most recently snapped a three game losing streak with a 81-73 victory over Virginia Military Institute. The defending CAA champions are led by senior forwards Kent Bazemore (13.2 PPG) and Chris Cooper (10.8 PPG, 9.8 RPG). They have one conference win on the young season, but 6-6 is a disappointing start for a team trying to win its third straight conference title.
Mizzou has struggled on the road in the past, and could be caught looking ahead to next week’s Big 12 opener against Oklahoma. Even though it will be eight days since Mizzou’s last game, they still have the momentum of their hot start and being one of four undefeated teams left in the country. Old Dominion’s strength is in rebounding, in which they rank 84th in the country with 37.4 a game, but rank near the bottom of all of college basketball in most other categories including points per game (279th nationally) and field goal percentage (319th). A big rebounding team playing at home could give Mizzou some troubles, but ODU simply doesn’t have enough fire power to be able to hang with the Tigers’ high scoring guards. It could be a tough trap game, but Mizzou’s offensive production may just be too much for Old Dominion to handle.