No. 10 Louisville wary of ODU in Bahamas
Arriving on Paradise Island in the Bahamas as the favorite to win the 2016 Battle 4 Atlantis, No. 10 Louisville got instructions from its coach. “Don't take Old Dominion lightly.”
The Cardinals will face Old Dominion in the first game of the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament Wednesday night at 9:30 p.m. ET.
The Monarchs (2-0) have drawn Louisville coach Rick Pitino's praise for their ability to play slow, methodical offense, rebound effectively and play stiff defense. For a 3-0 Louisville team wanting to run and press, Old Dominion could be a significant test.
“This is, for us, an opportunity to see what we are,” Pitino said. “It's been very difficult to tell because we have played three good games. I'm anxious to see how we play in this tournament.”
The Cardinals started the season with a 78-47 win over a short-handed Evansville team before beating William & Mary 91-58. An 88-56 win over Long Beach State last Thursday was supposed to provide more of a test, but an early Louisville run put the game out of reach with less than 10 minutes off the clock.
As for Old Dominion, coach Jeff Jones' team beat James Madison 62-55 and Richmond 64-61 to start the season. They Monarchs are currently ranked 350th in Division I basketball in tempo (64.1 possessions vs. Louisville's 71.0).
ODU was 25-13 last season and reached the Conference USA Championship game. It returned three starters and four of the top seven scorers from last season.
“It has been a positive for us in terms of preparation when you consider all the different problems Louisville presents,” Jones said. “Our guys know it is a big challenge, but they also recognize it is a big opportunity for our team.”
For Old Dominion, Wednesday's game represents its only scheduled shot at a Power 5 opponent this season. The Monarchs could play two or three Power 5 teams during their trip to the Bahamas.
“For a mid-major program, this is about the only opportunity we get to play against a team like Louisville and teams like (Baylor and Michigan State) that is not on their home floor,” Jones said. “We want to test ourselves.”
Louisville last visited the Battle 4 Atlantis during the 2012 season. The Cardinals won the 2013 NCAA title.