March 7, 2008
By David Driver
Used with permission
Special to the Telegram & Gazette
Sutton’s Abdi Lidonde talks with former St. Andrew’s School teammate Demetris Nichols of the Chicago Bulls about three times a week. During a recent conversation, Nichols told Lidonde about his trip to watch the NBA All-Star game in New Orleans.
While it would be natural for Lidonde to be jealous of his best friend and former Syracuse University standout, the 6-foot-2 Old Dominion University senior guard has some lofty goals of his own.
With his college career winding down, Lidonde said he would consider the opportunity to play pro basketball overseas. But that is not his main focus.
“I am thinking about law school,” said Lidonde, who lived the first 12 years of his life in Worcester on Vesper Street near Christ the King Church until his family moved to Sutton. He attended St. Peter Central Catholic Elementary School through the eighth grade before helping St. Andrew’s School in Barrington, R.I., win the New England championship as a senior.
Lidonde graduated last year with a degree in English and plans to graduate with a second degree in political science in May.
“That speaks for the kind of kid he is,” ODU coach Blaine Taylor said. “He has just been tremendous to work with. There will always be a place for a kid like this.”
But first, Lidonde has some unfinished business.
He will appear in his final Colonial Athletic Association tournament here this weekend. ODU, the No. 4 seed with an overall record of 17-14 and league mark of 11-7, has a first-round bye and will face the winner of tonight’s game between No. 5 William & Mary and No. 12 Georgia State in a quarterfinal at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow at Richmond Coliseum.
The two semifinal games are Sunday and the CAA title game is 7 p.m. Monday and will be televised by ESPN. ODU lost in the tourney semifinals last season to George Mason, but the Monarchs gained an at-large bid to the NCAA field. Obviously, ODU needs to win the conference tourney in order to land a postseason bid this year.
Lidonde has played well down the stretch. He had a team-high 16 points in a loss at Northeastern in Boston on Feb. 6 and had a team-high 15 points in a home win Feb. 9 against George Mason, the No. 3 seed this weekend two years after its magical Final Four run.
That was the first time Lidonde had led the Monarchs in scoring since the first two games of the season, when he scored a career-high 20 in a win against South Carolina State and 11 against Toledo.
Lidonde has played in all 31 games (with nine starts) and is averaging 18.5 minutes, 6.0 points and 1.7 rebounds per game. He has 30 assists.
“He is really playing well,” said Towson assistant coach Jim Meil, whose team almost upset ODU in last year’s CAA tourney. “He has good offensive ability in terms of what they do.”
But Lidonde has had games where he hardly scored, or played.
“It is frustrating sometimes. You always want to play. That has been my story all five years,” said Lidonde, who was a redshirt for one season (2004-05) at ODU due to an injury.
He came off the bench and saw limited action in a nationally televised win Feb. 16 at Virginia Commonwealth, the regular-season champion in the CAA.
“That is our rival. We hadn’t won there in almost 10 years,” he said. “That was a pretty big win for us.”
Lidonde averaged 4.6 points per game in 2006-07, 3.0 in 2005-06 and 1.4 as a freshman in 2003-04.
Lidonde played for Michael Hart at St. Andrew’s and helped lead the team to a 28-8 record and the New England championship for the second time in three years.
He averaged 17.1 points per game as a senior and was a considered a top 125 national recruit. He had 1,896 points in high school. He is taking 15 credit hours this semester and plans to take the LSAT this spring.
Lidonde said he may take a year off from academics before entering law school. He said he may spend a year in the Worcester area or move to Maryland, where his sister lives.
“I really want to get prepared to take this LSAT test,” said Lidonde, who turned 23 on Feb. 24.
But first comes his final CAA test this weekend in Richmond.