Navy Heads to Nation's Capital to Face League-Leading American on Wednesday
Feb. 24, 2009
NAVY (18-9 / 7-5 PL) at AMERICAN (19-7 / 11-1 PL)
Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2009 8:00 pm (ET)
Washington, D.C. Bender Arena (4,500)
Television: CBS College Sports Network
TV Talent: Carter Blackburn and Steve Lappas
Radio: WNAV (1430 AM / www.WNAV.com)
Radio Talent: Pete Medhurst and Michael Heary
Live Video: NavySports.com (All-Access only)
Tickets: 202-885-TIXX or available at game
Series: Navy leads, 36-32
Last Meeting: Jan. 28, 2009 (American, 68-67)
The Navy men's basketball team takes to the road for the final time in the 2008-09 regular season as it travels to Washington, D.C., for a key league tilt at American. Tip-off is slated for 8:00 pm (ET) and will be carried by CBS College Sports Network with Carter Blackburn and Steve Lappas calling the action. Pete Medhurst and Michael Heary will handle the radio call on WNAV (1430 AM), beginning at 7:45 pm. The game will be streamed online as part of the Navy and Patriot League All-Access packages. Navy enters the contest with an 18-9 record and is 7-5 in the Patriot League, firmly in third place. American is 19-7 overall and is 11-1 in the Patriot League.
Scouting Navy (18-9 / 7-5 PL)
Picked sixth in the Patriot League preseason poll, the Navy men's basketball team can wrap up the third seed with a win in either of its next two games, or losses by both Colgate and Lehigh in either of their next two games. Navy has won four of its last six games and enters Wednesday's game with an 18-9 overall record and a 7-5 league record, two games ahead of fourth-place Lehigh and Colgate (5-7).
Senior guard Kaleo Kina leads Navy with a 17.6 ppg and has to be considered one of the most well-rounded players in the country. He ranks in the league's top 10 in scoring (1st), assists (4th), rebounding (7th) and steals (8th). He is one of three Patriot League players in league history to score 1,400 points, grab 400 rebounds, dish out 300 assists and grab 150 steals (Holy Cross' Kevin Hamilton; Lafayette's Brian Ehlers).
Also averaging in double figures is junior guard Chris Harris (15.9 ppg, 1.4 spg). Harris was a preseason all-Patriot League selection after making a school record 91 three-pointers last year and averaging 17.8 ppg in league games only a year ago. He already has 80 three-pointers this year, the second most in a season in school history.
The last Navy player to average double-figures is Adam Teague (10.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg). Teague has started 20 games this year and has contributed 16 double-digit efforts. He ranks in the Patriot League's top 15 in six-of-12 categories, and has made 64 three-pointers this year, the sixth most in school history and the most nationally for a player 6-8 or taller.
Sophomore point guard O.J. Avworo averages 3.4 apg (6th in PL) with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.27 (8th in PL), while sophomore center Mark Veazey ranks sixth in the Patriot League in rebounding (5.8 rpg), third in field goal percentage (.538) and second in blocked shots (1.23 bpg).
Navy shoots 41.1 percent from the floor, 32.9 percent from three-point range and is making 72.5 percent of its free throw attempts.
Scouting American (19-7 / 11-1 PL)
The 2008 Patriot League regular-season and tournament champions have picked up right where they left off last year, posting a 19-7 overall record and ranking first in the league standings with an 11-1 record. The Eagles, who returned all five starters from last year's team and start five seniors, started the year 5-6, but have since gone 14-1 and have won eight games in a row. Ten of the victories have come by double-figures and American needs a win or a Holy Cross loss in either of the final two games to wrap up home court and the tournament's top seed.
The Eagles boast two league Player of the Year candidates in diminutive guards Garrison Carr and Derrick Mercer. Carr is second in the league in scoring (17.2 ppg) and leads the league in league games only (15.9 ppg). He has made 85 three-pointers after making a league-record 135 a year ago. Mercer, a four-year starter at point guard, averages 11.5 ppg and 4.0 apg in all games played, but is averaging 13.8 ppg and a league-best 4.9 apg while shooting 15-of-23 (.652) from three-point range in league games only.
Senior 6-8 forward Brian Gilmore is a tough matchup, averaging 11.8 ppg and 5.6 rpg, while connecting on 40.0 percent (38-of-95) of his three-point tries.
The Eagles own the league's best defense, allowing just 58.1 ppg and foes to shoot 39.5 percent from the field. American is outrebounding foes by 2.5 boards per game, but is forcing just 12.5 turnovers per game.
Offensively, American is averaging 63.3 points per game, while shooting a league-best 46.3 percent from the field and 37.0 percent from three-point range. American is shooting just 65.1 percent from the free throw line.
In his fifth year at Navy, head coach Billy Lange has engineered a remarkable turnaround on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay.
Lange owns a 68-75 record at Navy and is 107-94 in seven years as a collegiate head coach. He coached his 200th career game in last Wednesday's loss to Holy Cross. Over the last two years, Lange has led Navy to the brink of a Patriot League title twice and owns a 34-23 overall record and a 16-10 league mark in that span. Since the start of the second half of league play last year, Navy is 13-6 in the PL regular season and is 31-17 in the last 48 games, dating back to last year.
Earlier this year, Lange was voted 10th at the midseason point in the voting for the Hugh Durham Award, given to the top mid-major coach in the country.
Last year, he was named the 2008 Patriot League Coach of the Year after leading his team, which was picked seventh in the preseason poll, to a second-place finish in the Patriot League at 9-5. Basketball Times ranked him No. 30 on the Mid-Career Coaches list.
This year's team was picked sixth in the preseason poll, but sits in third place entering the final week of the regular season.
Lange already ranks seventh on the Navy career victories list.
Jeff Jones is in ninth year at American, owning a 144-120 record and is 290-224 in his 17th year overall. A standout player at Virginia, Jones played with the legendary Ralph Sampson, and is still littered among the Virginia recordbooks.
Jones has been at the helm during American's time in the Patriot League, where he has led the Eagles to four Patriot League Tournament championship games and a top-four finish in all nine seasons. The team has won or shared four PL regular-season titles (including this year).
Series History vs. American
Wednesday's meeting will be the 69th meeting between the two schools in a series that dates back to 1929. The Mids own a slim 36-32 advantage, but it has been all American in the last seven years.
Since American joined the Patriot League in 2001-02, the Eagles own a 14-3 advantage. Two of Navy's three wins came last year as the Mids swept the regular season and tournament champions, winning at Bender Arena for the first time since joining the league. Navy is the last league team to win at Bender Arena as the Eagles have run off 13 straight wins against league foes at home, dating back to Jan. 30, 2008.
From Feb. 11, 1991, to March 4, 2005, American had won 11 meetings in a row. Since the start of the 2005-06 season, American owns a slim 4-3 advantage.
Last Game Recap
Chris Harris scored 17 points, Kaleo Kina added 14 and Adam Teague hit a huge three-pointer down the stretch to lift Navy to a 59-54 win over Army. The victory was Navy's seventh straight Star Game triumph over the Black Knights.
The Mids used a 22-2 run over five minutes in the second half to turn a 26-20 deficit into a 42-28 lead with 10:16 left. However, Army then went on a 23-11 spurt to trim the lead to 53-51 with just under a minute to play, when Adam Teague drilled his only shot of the game, a three-pointer, with 38 seconds left and the shot clock at four to push the margin to five. Navy then made 3-of-4 free throws down the stretch for the victory.
With a win on Wednesday, Navy will...
Capture the third seed for the upcoming Patriot League Tournament.
Win its eighth road game, the second most in program history, behind just the 1986 team (9-6).
Win its 19th game of the season, matching the ninth most in school history and most since the 1999-00 team won 23 games (23-6).
Move 10 games over .500 for the first time since March 10, 2000 (23-6).
Guarantee Navy a winning record for the second straight year in Patriot League play.
# GO NAVY #