It's fair to say most every college basketball team is full of optimism this year. ODU seems to have good reason to be upbeat.

Last year the Monarchs went (19-12). The core of that group returns another year older, wiser and at this point healthy.

C-USA media has picked ODU to finish 4th in the conference.

Defense and rebounding are always the heart of a Jeff Jones coached team. Expect more of that, but Jones says they'll pick up the tempo a little on offense this year.

While Ahmad Caver seemed the only reliable scorer last year, Jones says expect more balance from the Monarchs this year.

For ODU, the season opens Friday at the Constant Center when Towson comes to Norfolk.