Birthday: Feb. 17, 1972|
Hometown: Haddon Heights, N.J.
High School: Bishop Eustace Prep
Alma Mater: Rowan (1994)
Degree: B.A. Journalism
|2005-present: Navy Head Coach|
2002-04: Villanova DBO / Assistant Coach
2000-01: Merchant Marine Academy Head Coach
1998-99: La Salle Assistant Coach
1996-97: Philadelphia U. Assistant Coach
1995: Bishop Eustace Prep Head Coach
|AWARDS / HONORS|
|2009 - Navy: Finalist for Skip Prosser Award|
2009 - Navy: Finalist for Hugh Durham mid-season Coach of the Year Award
2008 - Navy: Patriot League Coach of the Year
2008 - Navy: No. 30 on Basketball Times Mid-Career Coaches List
2008 - Navy: CollegeInsider.com Patriot League Coach of the Year
2001 - USMMA: New York Metro Basketball Writers D-III Coach of the Year
|At Navy: 92-115 (Seven Years)|
At USMMA: 39-19 (Two Years)
Career: 131-134 (Eight Years)
2000 - USMMA: 17-11
2001 - USMMA: 22-8
2005 - Navy: 9-19
2006 - Navy: 10-18
2007 - Navy: 14-16
2008 - Navy: 16-14
2009 - Navy: 19-11
2010 - Navy: 13-17
2011 - Navy: 11-20
When Billy Lange was hired as the 18th head coach in Navy history in 2004, he brought with him an energy and a passion to rebuild the Navy basketball program back to the Patriot League elite status it enjoyed for so long in the 1990s.
Now entering his seventh season at Navy in 2010-11, Lange has the Midshipmen program firmly re-established as a significant force in the Patriot League race. Over the last three years, Navy has the second-best record (behind American) of the eight schools, posting a 48-42 overall record and a 24-18 Patriot League mark over the last three years. Navy and American are the only league schools to each finish in the top four of the league standings in each of the last three seasons.
What sets Lange's teams apart from others is the ability and clearance to shoot the three-pointer. Four of the top five single-season three-point totals have come in the last five seasons, and Navy has had 20 instances of 13 or more three-pointers in a game under Lange. Before Lange arrived, Navy had just five such outings.
Thanks in large part to the success beyond the arc and at the free throw stripe and the up-tempo approach, Navy has led the league in scoring in four of the six years Lange has been in charge.
Lange has a way of also developing young players. In his six years at Navy, five freshmen have been named to the Patriot League All-Rookie Team, including 2008 selection, Romeo Garcia. Garcia joined Kaleo Kina (2006), Trey Stanton (2007), Greg Sprink (2005) and Corey Johnson (2005) as freshmen that have earned the honor under Lange.
In addition, three sophomores have averaged at least 14.0 ppg in a season. Jordan Sugars (2010 / 15.8), Chris Harris (2008 / 14.5) and Greg Sprink (14.9 ppg) have each averaged over 14.0 ppg as a sophomore. Prior to the trio, just 10 sophomores in school history have averaged at least 14.0 ppg.
Boasting another high-scoring attack in 2009-10, Navy once again had a strong league season, posting a 7-7 Patriot League record and a 13-17 overall mark. The high-scoring trio of Chris Harris, Jordan Sugars and O.J. Avworo accounted for almost 63 percent of the team's scoring, and Harris' 21.1 ppg led the league.
Harris went from a recruit with not many offers to the league's leading scorer in three years. He was one of two players in school history to be named All-Patriot League three times and he was a first-team selection in 2010. He finished his career as the fifth-leading scorer in school history and the school's all-time leader in career three-pointers. He is the only player in Patriot League history to rank in the top 15 in points, steals, three-pointers made and free throw percentage.
Harris marked the fourth straight year that a Navy player has led the league in scoring, done by three other players. It was just the second time in NCAA history that three players from the same school have led a respective league in scoring four straight times.
Having the league's top-scoring offense for the fourth time in his first five years in charge, Navy broke out of the gates in 2008-09, winning 11-of-15 non-conference games and sporting an undefeated non-conference home slate (7-0). The Mids kept it going in conference play, finishing third in the league with an 8-6 record and hosting a playoff home game for the second straight season.
Despite the offense gaining all the publicity, it was Navy's defense that improved the most, giving the Midshipmen a chance to win in every game. Navy held opponents to just 41.0 percent shooting from the field, ranking 62nd nationally and posting the lower percentage in almost 10 years.
Thanks to Navy's hot non-conference start, Lange was named a finalist for the Hugh Durham mid-season Coach of the Year Award (given to the nation's top mid-major coach) and was one of 12 finalists nationally for the prestigious Skip Prosser Man of the Year Award. He also guided Navy to a spot in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 and the team received votes for the Associated Press Top 25 national poll on three different occasions in 2008-09.
Armed with one of the most potent offensive line-ups in the Patriot League with still a relatively young team, Lange guided Navy to its first winning season in seven years in 2007-08 with a 16-14 overall mark. The Mids played decent early on, but couldn't get over the hump in starting the season just 3-8. However, Navy went 13-6 over its last 19 games, and ran off a six-game winning streak during Patriot League play that included a pair of victories over Patriot League champion American, to finish 9-5 in the Patriot League standings, good for second place.
Not bad for a team that was picked to finish seventh in the Patriot League. For his efforts in the turnaround, Lange was named the 2008 Patriot League Coach of the Year, an honor that a Navy coach has now won four times in 18 years as a member of the Patriot League.
Despite the 16-14 record, the Mids still suffered several near-misses. Navy went just 8-10 when leading at halftime and 11 of their 14 losses came by 10 points or fewer.
However, with six of its first eight losses coming by 10 or fewer points, Navy earned a two-point win at St. Francis (N.Y.) on Dec. 29, setting the stage for its remarkable run. All that the team needed was a close win to give it the confidence it needed to be a factor. Following that win, Navy won tight games against Lehigh (twice), Bucknell, Lafayette, Holy Cross and Army, in which Navy was forced to rally in the second half or hang on late to narrow leads.
The Mids accomplished all of their success with a lethal offensive attack that featured four guards and a freshman center. Greg Sprink, Navy's first Patriot League Player of the Year honoree and a 2008 All-America selection, was the kingpin, averaging 21.8 points per game and finishing his career with 1,785 points, the third most in academy history.
As a team, Navy's uptempo style of play allowed the Mids to lead the league in scoring, rebounding and assists, while the defense took pride in forcing turnovers. The Mids were one of the top teams nationally in both turnover margin and steals.
The Mids were also able to hold onto leads late in the game, thanks to their free throw shooting. Navy set a school record for free throw percentage in a season (.749) and three of the top seven single-season free throw percentage totals have come under Lange.
The 2006-07 team showed marked improvement on the defensive end, en route to a 14-16 record. The Mids ranked 45th nationally in scoring defense, were 82nd in field goal percentage defense and finished 70th in three-point field goal percentage defense. The 62.7 ppg allowed were the sixth fewest since recordkeeping began in 1952 and the lowest amount allowed since the 1979-80 season. Lange's team put itself in position for a home Patriot League Quarterfinal game entering the last week of the season and won the Star Game for the fifth straight year. The Mids also recorded impressive wins over Loyola (Md.), Stony Brook and William & Mary, and gave national power Villanova all it could handle two days after Thanksgiving.
In addition, Lange's offensive philosophy flourished. The Mids connected on a then school-record 260 three-pointers while making a then school-record 74.7 percent of their free throws. Navy was one of two schools nationally to have nine players reach double-digits in three-pointers made (Southeast Missouri State was the other).
Navy's offense was the highlight of Lange's second season, 2005-06, as the Mids led the league in scoring for the second straight year, edging Lafayette by 1.4 points per game. Navy also ranked second in free throw percentage (.722), which was good for 67th in the country. In the 2004-05 season, Navy shot just .651 from the free throw line, showing a vast improvement on the charity stripe.
Leading the way was the sophomore Sprink, who turned in the finest sophomore season since Eddie Reddick in 1988-89. Sprink averaged 14.9 ppg in all games, but saw the average bump to 15.5 in Patriot League games, ranking third in the league in scoring. He connected for over 30 points twice, setting school records for most points in a half (2nd half; 31 vs. Brown), most points off the bench (34 vs. Brown) and most three-pointers in a game (9 vs. Brown). Sprink also finished the season ranked in the top 50 nationally in free throw percentage and became just the ninth player in school history to record multiple 30-point games.
The 2004-05 campaign was the beginning of a new era for Navy basketball with first-year head coach Billy Lange at the helm. One that preached a commitment to the team and the restoration of a tradition that has bled Blue and Gold for many years.
With the new outlook came a new style of play, a new attitude -- an aggressive, fast-paced, in-your-face, sense of panic which was welcomed not only by the team, but by Navy's faithful fans.
Featuring one of the youngest line-ups in the country, Navy posted its second consecutive 10-18 mark, using eight freshmen and sophomores on a regular basis, including seven of them starting at least one game.
While the Mids had their share of growing pains, which included 10 losses by six points or less, by the end of January the hard work, focus and discipline paid off. Navy won five of their final 10 games, including an 82-71 victory over Colgate. Two days after defeating the Raiders, the Mids posted a 66-62 victory over Patriot League Tournament champion Bucknell, who later defeated Kansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
A week later, 2004 senior captain Taj Mathews turned in a career-high 26-point effort and led Navy to its third-consecutive Star Game win over archrival Army, 84-69, and for Lange, a victory in his first Star Game. Mathews was 6-of-14 from behind the arc, setting the record for most three-point field goals made and attempted by a Navy player in an Army-Navy contest. Meanwhile, the Mids' 13 made three-pointers against the Black Knights is etched in the record book as the third most three-pointers made in a single game in school history.
Navy ended the season 9-19, winning four more games than the year before, and the Mids' five conference wins were the most since the 2000-01 team owned a 9-3 Patriot League mark
Navy finished 2004-05 ranked among the country's top 50 in two statistical categories -- rebound margin and steals. The Mids' +5.1 rebound margin was the 32nd best among 326 Div. I schools in the nation. Meanwhile, Navy finished No. 34 in steals per game, grabbing 8.9 per contest.
The Mids finished the 2004-05 campaign ranked No. 1 in the Patriot League in four statistical categories (overall games), including scoring offense. Navy averaged 69.7 points per game, 2.5 points more than second-place Lafayette (67.2 ppg). The Mids displayed a +13.5 scoring gain over the previous season, while averaging just under six rebounds a game more than the 2003-04 campaign.
"Coach Lange is very enthusiastic and he is instilling a winning attitude among us all," said 2009 team captain Adam Teague. "Knowing that Coach Lange will be there to work with us in basketball and help us in anything we need off the court helps our confidence and shows what kind of person he is. He is interested in you off the court as much as on."
Perhaps the fact that Lange is most proud of is the role his squad has taken on in the classroom. Since his arrival, team GPA has increased by nearly half a point. Eight players recorded GPAs better than 2.50 in the 2008 spring semester and six of them had cumulative GPAs better than 2.60.
On March 26, 2004, Naval Academy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk introduced Lange as the Mids' head men's basketball coach, the 19th in the program's storied history. Lange came to Navy from Villanova where he served as a member of the Wildcats' coaching staff for the three seasons.
"To meet Coach Lange is to be immediately impressed with his energy, demeanor and enthusiasm for this important opportunity," said Naval Academy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk. "Everyone we talked to that has worked with him, for him, or played on his teams has the highest compliments regarding his successful professional relationships and motivating style of leadership. I strongly believe our players will enjoy playing for Coach Lange and will compete to the best of their abilities for him. He will be a wonderful role model for our midshipmen, those within the Naval Academy family and throughout the community."
While at Villanova, Lange played a vital role in the daily operation of the men's basketball program where he served as both an assistant coach and coordinator of basketball operations.
In his three years at Villanova, Lange was part of a staff which led the Wildcats to three-straight appearances in the National Invitational Tournament, including a berth in the NIT Quarterfinals win 2004.
"Billy Lange is one of the great young basketball coaches in the country," said Jay Wright, head men's basketball coach at Villanova. "He understands from his years at Kings Point and Villanova how to run an entire program. He was invaluable to us in everything we've done to try and build our program at Villanova in one of the toughest conferences in the country, the Big East. I've known him through his years as a high school coach, college assistant and college head coach and he has a tremendous understanding of the game, a great passion for the game and an outstanding ability to relate and inspire young players. Everyone at Villanova wishes Billy the best and we're all rooting for Navy."
"He is easily the most passionate and energetic coach I've ever worked with and I know that his teams will play with that same passion that he has," said Joe Jones, head basketball coach at Columbia University and former assistant at Villanova. "He's the whole package, he's energetic, knowledgeable and hard working."
At the age of 38, Lange already owns an impressive coaching resume. Appointed head coach at the United States Merchant Marine Academy in 1999, Lange led his team to a 39-19 (.672) record in two seasons, while claiming two Skyline Conference crowns and a berth in the 2001 NCAA Division III Sweet 16. Lange was named the New York Metropolitan Basketball Writers Division III Coach of the Year in 2001.
A native of Haddon Heights, N.J., Lange played basketball at Bishop Eustace (N.J.) High School for his father, Bill Lange Sr., and at Rowan College before moving into the coaching ranks in 1995. In his first and only season as the head coach, taking over for his father who was in a life-threatening accident just one week into the season, Lange led Bishop Eustace to a 20-6 record and an appearance in the state New Jersey State Championship game.
In 1996, Lange joined the staff at Philadelphia University where he spent the next two seasons working for head coach Herb Magee. In 1998, he moved into the Division I ranks as an assistant coach at La Salle University where he helped tutor forward Rasual Butler, who is now in his fourth season with the Miami Heat.
Lange and his wife, Alicia, are the parents of four sons, Will (born December 15, 2003), Matthew (born May 9, 2005) and twins Jacob and Mark (born June 21, 2007).
# GO NAVY #