Monarchs are now the talk of this town

By Noah Trister
Associated Press / March 20, 2010

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NEW ORLEANS — Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor is one of the NCAA Tournament’s most entertaining talkers.

Before his team’s first-round win over Notre Dame, he joked that he’d taken a few of the Fighting Irish to Bourbon Street for St. Patrick’s Day and given them the wrong start time for their game against his Monarchs.

Now, as Old Dominion prepares to face third-seeded Baylor, Taylor is devising a new defense.

“We’ve been working on the box-and-five,’’ Taylor said yesterday. “We think if we can get away with it, we think it will be very strategic.’’

For all of Taylor’s joking around, the 11th-seeded Monarchs are very serious about their chances today in the second round of the South Regional. Old Dominion shut down Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody in its victory Thursday, and in a tournament with plenty of upsets already, the thought of a double-digit seed reaching the Sweet 16 isn’t far fetched.

Baylor, meanwhile, outlasted Sam Houston State for its first NCAA Tournament win in 60 years. The victory was a big milestone for a program that only a few years ago was banned from playing nonconference games as part of NCAA penalties for numerous violations under former coach Dave Bliss.

“We don’t focus on the past,’’ guard LaceDarius Dunn said.

Sam Houston State used an unusual triangle-and-two defense to try to slow Baylor’s explosive backcourt of Dunn and Tweety Carter. It worked for most of the game, so Taylor was asked whether he might try something similar. After his “box-and-five’’ joke, Taylor said he’s unlikely to resort to any tricks.

The Monarchs held Notre Dame to 36 percent shooting.

“I don’t consider us to be a weak defensive team. A lot of times you gimmick when you are masking the inability to match up at certain spots,’’ Taylor said. “That hasn’t been our modus operandi. Ours has been to come pretty straight at you with maybe different looks, but not with the gimmick stuff.’’