Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

Young Navy team is still trying to break through

January 12, 2012 Columns No Comments
navy

WORCESTER, Mass. – Wednesday night’s game at Holy Cross looked all too familiar for Navy. A team that has not fared well in close games and came in with eight straight losses had another close call, but another one in the right-hand column as Holy Cross won 73-69.

“That’s the way it’s been. That’s the way all our games have been,” said head coach Ed DeChellis. “We have a chance to win with three or four minutes to go in the game and we just haven’t been able to do it.”

DeChellis took over the program last spring and has inherited a team with a lot of youth. The Midshipmen have three seniors, only two of whom play significant minutes, and start four sophomores. They bring four freshmen off the bench for significant minutes, along with two more sophomores. At times on Wednesday night, they looked like a young team with their play, but also at one point late that was clear.

There was a stoppage of play with almost three minutes left. Holy Cross headed over to the bench to talk things over while things got sorted out, but Navy’s players didn’t head over to their bench until the stoppage was almost over. It’s a relatively minor point, but that was a missed opportunity to go over something at a time when Holy Cross was almost finished with a decisive 9-0 run for a 65-56 lead.

There is some good talent among the young players. Sophomore forward J.J. Avila is breaking out as the team’s top scorer and rebounder, and the Midshipmen are trying to get him the ball often. Jordan Brickman, who actually sat out the last two seasons, has started 12 of the last 13 games at the point and appears to have settled in there. Sophomore Brennan Wyatt has acquitted himself well as a backup point guard. Worth Smith might be the best of the freshmen, as he has started six games and should be a fixture there given his versatility, while classmate Donya Jackson is athletic and clearly has a future with this team. Smith had a double-double on Wednesday with 13 points and 10 rebounds, going 3-5 from long range.

“We’ve got some good things to build upon,” said DeChellis. “We’re just young everywhere.”

Of late, the Midshipmen are showing signs of progress at the offensive end, an area DeChellis intimated leaves plenty of room for improvement. Evidence of that comes from the Midshipmen holding six opponents below 60 points on the season, but going just 2-4 in those games. After being turnover-prone early, they entered Wednesday’s game with 80 assists and 74 turnovers in the prior six games. They were even better on Wednesday, handing out 16 assists with just nine turnovers. It’s progress, but there was a down side even to that, as Holy Cross made them pay with 16 points off turnovers.

“We’re not an explosive offensive team, so we can’t give teams easy, unanswered points with turnovers in the backcourt, and that’s something we’ve done in this streak as well,” DeChellis added.

Part of the offensive struggles have likely come from adjusting to the coaching change. Navy is playing much slower this year than they did under former head coach Billy Lange. In fact, they have gone from playing one of the fastest paces to being near the bottom ten percent in Division I.

The Midshipmen have had some close calls during the losing streak. Not surprisingly, this young team hasn’t quite finished games at times, as nine of their 13 losses have been by single digits (they have won just two of those games). They are 0-4 in one-possession games. With experience, this team should eventually start to turn some of those losses into victories, but DeChellis knows it won’t happen simply by the advancement of time.

“You can’t just will it,” said the Navy mentor. “You’ve got to want it and you have to do what you have to do to be successful.”

When DeChellis made the move to Annapolis from Penn State, it drew plenty of attention last spring. In the end Navy should be the better for it given his track record at East Tennessee State and in Happy Valley. Right now there are some growing pains with the youth of this team, but there is some progress even if it’s not yet showing on the bottom line.

Comment on this Article:







Advertisement

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

Your Phil of Hoops

Young UNLV team grows in Brooklyn

November 23, 2014 by

unlv

Teams often grow from early season tournaments, and that appears to be what UNLV did in Brooklyn. The young Runnin’ Rebels need the experience.

Simply put, Syracuse needs to improve offensively

November 22, 2014 by

syracuse

Jim Boeheim didn’t have many things to say about his team’s offense, but that said it all. It’s at that end of the floor that Syracuse’s fate this season will be determined.

Growing pains are here for talented Brown team

November 20, 2014 by

brown

Brown has good talent and should be a factor in the Ivy League, but with three sophomores starting on the perimeter, growing pains are in the foreseeable future

Hoopville Archives

Reader Poll

Best win November 2014-15
Which team has the best win thus far on the young season?

2014 Prep School Tour

Missed a recap of an open gym workout? We have them all right here for you.

Sept. 9: Putnam Science Academy
Sept 10: Commonwealth Academy
Sept. 11: St. Andrew's
Sept. 12: Northfield Mount Hermon
Sept. 16: Brewster Academy and Phillips Exeter
Sept. 17: Brooks School
Sept. 21: Holderness School
Sept. 23: St. Thomas More and Marianapolis Prep
Sept. 24: South Kent School and Kent School
Sept. 25: Williston Northampton
Sept. 28: Wilbraham and Monson Academy and Suffield Academy
Sept. 30: New Hampton
Oct. 5: Worcester Academy
Oct. 7: Brimmer and May
Oct. 8: Cushing Academy
Oct. 9: Tilton
Oct. 12: Tabor Academy and Rivers School
Oct. 14: The Master's School
Oct. 16: Vermont Academy

You can also find them all right here.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

New England Prep Schools 2014-15: looking back and looking ahead

November 3, 2014 by

nepsac

With a series of prep school open gym visits in the book and the season not far away, here’s a look back at open gyms and a look forward to the season in the New England prep school ranks.

Marianapolis Prep will battle in Class AA

October 20, 2014 by

marianapolis

Marianapolis Prep is far from loaded with talent, but they have enough perimeter talent to be dangerous. As is usually the case, they will battle and be a tough out in Class AA.

New Vermont Academy coach has put together a contender

October 17, 2014 by

vermontacademy

Vermont Academy has a new coach for the second year in a row, but they shouldn’t skip a beat. They have enough talent to win a lot of games and make a deep run in NEPSAC Class AA.

The Master’s School has good students and talent

October 15, 2014 by

mastersschool

The Master’s School has a number of good students, and they will continue to head to college later. This time around, they also have some talent on the hardwood and should win a few more games.

Rivers will try to build on a breakthrough season

October 13, 2014 by

riversschool

The Rivers School had a breakthrough season last year, winning the Independent School League. They will try to build on that with a team that loses a lot but also returns a lot from last season’s team.