NORFOLK, Va. - Who knew roundball could be so cutting edge?
Conference USA, home to Old Dominion basketball, is the first NCAA league to ever a bonus phase to its regular season hoops slate. New this year, the conference does not schedule teams' final four regular season games until last weekend (February 16th).
The matchups are based on current league standings. Therfore, it's good vs. good and not-so-good vs. not-so-good. All good, right? Well, unless you're the guy or gal in charge of booking all the cross-country travel on notice shorter than a lay-up. Then it's just good luck.
This weekend, Conference USA men's basketball teams dribble into uncharted territory.
“It adds, I think, some excitement for everybody,” said Old Dominion head men's basketball coach Jeff Jones.
It's especially exciting for ODU's basketball operations ace, Kieran Donohue - the special assistant to Jones. Donohue is the guy saddled with the task of managing the Monarchs' sudden cross-country complexities.
“The more organized you are on the front end, the easier it is on the back end,” Donohue revealed in an interview with News 3.
And it's the back end...of the schedule that forces a full-court press. With the dates, times, opponents and locations of ODU's final four regular season contests unknown until a week out - the Monarchs' schedule was like a story without an ending.
“I was putting our younger daughter to sleep and just getting ready to finish the bedtime story," Donohue, in his sixth year at ODU, explained. "And I happen to hit refresh one more time and saw that I got the email from Grant Gardner, our Sports Information Director, that the schedule had been released - so I very quickly said 'Goodnight, honey – I love you!" and ran right downstairs."
Last Saturday night, Donohue and the Monarchs learned they'll travel to San Antonio with a week and a half's notice. Then they will head to Birmingham the following Saturday.
"You're trying to get 27, 28 people on the same flight and you have to make connections to get to all these cities," Donohue noted. "We've got a seven to eight hour window with which you're traveling, and we're trying to put our players in the best situation from a nutrition and a rest standpoint to be able to play their best."
However, as of Tuesday afternoon - less than 72 hours after Conference USA's Bonus Play schedule is released, the Monarchs' travel plans were finalized.
“There’s no doubt I enjoy it," Kieran admitted. "It definitely stresses me out a bit.”
So count on Kieran to find a way, even on short notice, to get the Monarchs from point A to point B - even if the destination happens to be uncharted territory.
ODU’s 2019 Bonus Play Schedule:
Saturday, February 23 (1:00 p.m.): WKU at ODU* - Stadium
Thursday, February 28 (8:00 p.m.): ODU at UTSA – CBS Sports Network
Wednesday, March 6 (7:00 p.m.): Southern Miss at ODU - CBS Sports Network on Facebook
Saturday, March 9 (3:00 p.m.): ODU at UAB - CBS Sports Network on Facebook
All times Eastern
*Fans with a ticket to the game vs. WKU can get in for FREE to women’s basketball game vs. Charlotte at 4:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, Feb. 23.