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DeLisha Milton-Jones and Amari Young Take Part in Sun Belt Media Day

Sun Belt Conference

NEW ORLEANS – Old Dominion women's basketball head coach DeLisha Milton-Jones and senior forward Amari Young were in New Orleans, Louisiana on Tuesday for the Sun Belt Conference Media Day, hosted at the league's office inside the Superdome.
The Monarchs were picked to finish second in the conference's preseason poll, released on Monday, and Young was named to the preseason All-Sun Belt Third Team.


"I am very honored that our counterparts see us as a number two team, but obviously a lot is left to be determined. It's going to be an exciting year for every coach and every team and every player in the Sun Belt. There's a lot of new change, and sometimes great things, beautiful things, come from change like that," said Milton-Jones.
"We're expecting to have a good season. It's a lot of unknowns for us. We have a new team, a new conference for us, but I think we can come in and make our mark," added Young.

While there are a few familiar faces in Marshall and Southern Mississippi who also left Conference USA to join the Sun Belt, ODU will see a number of new programs this season. Last year's regular season champion, Troy went 24-9 overall with a 13-2 record in league play and was picked to repeat this season. The Trojans return five members from last year's squad, including a 2021 All-Sun Belt First Team selection and preseason Player of the Year Felmas Koranga.
ODU was previously a member of the Sun Belt Conference from 1982 to 1991. That proved to be a very productive time for the program as the Monarchs won five conference championships and defeated Georgia 70-65 to win the 1985 NCAA Division I National Championship.
It was a good fit for ODU back then, and when asked about it being a good fit now, Milton-Jones commented, "I think that you have two juggernauts that are joining together. It's a very competitive conference when you have the likes of Troy and Georgia Southern and the different styles of play that I'm excited to be able to go up against night in and night out. When you look at the history of Old Dominion University and you look at the history of the Sun Belt, I think this is a marriage made in heaven where good things are bound to happen. Good basketball is on the rise and it's going to be the Fun Belt as everyone terms it."
The Monarchs are just a few weeks away from the start of their season, which will begin with a trip to Fort Myers, Florida on Nov. 7 to play Florida Gulf Coast before traveling to Houston, Texas on Nov. 10 for a meeting with Texas Southern. ODU will then welcome William & Mary for its home opener on Nov. 15. The team will also be on the road to start its conference schedule with games at App State on Dec. 29 and at JMU on Dec. 31.
"I love the fact that we are on the road," added Milton-Jones. "I want to take the show on the road and I really want to see what we're made of. We tried to put together a strong non-conference schedule to prepare us for the Sun Belt. There's a lot of very dynamic and explosive teams in our conference. So opening up with App State and James Madison, that's going to be a good test of our character and where we are as a team."
An anticipated matchup, ODU and JMU will look to rekindle their rivalry and will meet for the first time on the hardwood since 2013.
"That is a rivalry that I have heard a lot about, and I think many people within the community are excited to be able to get that rivalry back up and running," said Milton-Jones. "JMU is a tremendous program and I think both programs combined have a lot of great history. We look forward to being able to grace the courts again with them within conference play and hopefully it's a great battle that we edge them out on."
"We're just ready to come out and compete, not take anything lightly and just do what we do best," said Young.

The Monarchs did lose their top two scorers to graduation in Iggy Allen and Ajah Wayne. ODU also dealt with the injury bug last season. Coach Milton-Jones was asked about replacing their productivity and having a healthy team this year. 

"You fill in when you lose two major scorers like that by doing everything by committee. It's not going to be one person's responsibility. Amari is here alongside me today obviously because I have a tremendous amount of respect for what she does on and off the court. But, at the same time, we have to surround her with great talent that will take that load off of her. We have the mentality where everyone has to tote their mail. Everyone has a responsibility attached to their skillset and attached to the role that we have designed for them to play. If everyone can do that well, then the level of play for everyone will be great and hopefully it will be hard for our opponents to defend us when we do it by committee."