Putting the "V" in Victory for ODU

By David Scott - January 04, 2007

BOSTON - Scoring has never been a problem for the blonde lefty who teammates call “Vee.” In fact, on Wednesday night in each school's second CAA game of the year, it was the scoring of Valdas Vasylius (VAL-das VA-Si-li-us) that put the “VEE” in Old Dominion’s 73-67 victory over an undermanned – but scrappy – Northeastern squad.

The problem for the 6-foot-7, 210 pound senior from Lithuania (via Norfolk (Va.) Collegiate High School) has been maintaining his killer instinct.

“He gets in that rhythm a lot and in practice and in some games, but in some games he tends to not go as hard,” said junior guard Brandon Johnson, who averages 7.2 points and 3.6 rebounds off the Monarchs bench. “Vee shoots like 70 percent, if he’s open you’ve got to get it to him.”

For the record, Vasylius actually shoots 49.5 percent from the field, but didn’t miss a shot against Northeastern until mid-way through the second half and finished 9-of-11 from the field and 8-of-9 from the line, with five rebounds.

“I thought it was a quiet 27,” said his coach, Blaine Taylor. “The thing that’s eye-opening to me is he goes 9 for 11, instead of a lot of guys who go 9 for 25 and get 27. That’s efficient.”

It was also two off Vasylius’s career high, set two seasons ago against Towson, and it was another glimpse at how valuable the long Lithuanian can be for the Monarchs as they battle CAA powers, Hofstra, Drexel, George Mason and VCU.

“I was cold in warm-ups,” said Vasylius (and understandably so as the ice is down at Matthews Arena and there aren’t exactly a lot of bodies – an announced crowd of 650 – to warm things up. “Last game (a home loss to Winthrop) we didn’t play well as team, but we shared the ball better tonight.”

“When he gets like that, you keep going to him,” said Johnson, who finished with a similarly efficient 13 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, three turnovers and two steals in 34 minutes. “If he’s got the hot hand, you’ve got to go to him. It opens up the outside shot when he can draw them inside.”

ODU hit on 4 of 16 from 3-point land (while Northeastern took a gaudy 29 treys, hitting 10). For the game the Monarchs shot 51 percent from the field and held the Huskies to 33 percent.

“(Vasylius) just really played a terrific game,” said NU coach Bill Coen. “He established himself very well, and got us in foul trouble down on the post. He was the difference maker in the game.”

Taylor makes it sound as if Vasylius might be on the verge of a breakout year, having now scored 17 points or more in four of the last six games.

“We know he’s a good player. I think Vee has been very productive when we’ve found him at the right times (during the season),” said Taylor. “I thought the kids did a nice job of finding him and I thought his psyche was very solid in making plays during the course of the game.

“When you’ve got somebody that has got a hunger to perform, you’ve got to feed them,” said Taylor, who wound up resting Vasylius during Northeastern’s mid-second half run because, he said, “you’ve got add that into the context of the rest of the team. We rode him to that point, I was thinking we could get him a breather – when he came back we didn’t do a as good a job finding him.”

But they found him enough in the early going to ride the V to victory.

Posted by David Scott at 12:10 AM on January 04, 2007

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