Oct. 20, 2008
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Navy men's basketball team wrapped up its third practice on Monday afternoon, putting a wrap on a successful first three days in preparation for the 2008-09 season. The Mids started their practices on Saturday morning and then practiced again on Sunday and Monday, and will take Tuesday off.
The Mids practiced for about two-and-a-half hours on Monday, spending most of the time on offensive sets and transition. The last 20 minutes of practice were spent in five-on-five scrimmage situations.
Navy head coach Billy Lange has been pleased with the progress and competitiveness of the practices.
"We have been going pretty hard since we all got together in August," said Lange. "We have a very experienced crew and we have been pushing them at a high level. Right now, its not about how much time we spend in practice, its more about the quality and focus. The competitiveness has been off the charts. Right now, we are mainly focusing on the details, discipline and all the little things that can help us succeed."
All 14 players were in practice gear, but sophomore Romeo Garcia (Houston, Texas) has not practiced yet this year. Garcia has a hamstring injury suffered in preseason workouts just four days before practice started. The hamstring is getting better, and Lange expects him to start practicing within a couple of weeks.
Overall, however, the conditioning level and health of the Midshipmen is in good shape.
"We have not run much since our practice before the Bucknell game in March," said Lange. "We didn't run any in the spring and didn't do any running in the fall until the last couple of weeks. We have a very good strength and conditioning coach in Justin (Livezey) and they have been working out and conditioning through him. Our level of fitness and conditioning has definitely gotten better from Saturday to Monday. The way we practice it will continue to get better and we'll get our legs underneath us quickly."
One player that was excited to get into practice was sophomore O.J. Avworo
(Houston, Texas). Avworo sat out last year after transferring from the University of Idaho, and spent the last year running the point for the scout team. Avworo has assumed a more significant role this winter, being projected as the starter at point guard this winter.
"O.J. is still working out some kinks, but overall the level of quickness, ball movement and defensive leadership he gives us is the best I have seen since I have been here," said Lange. "I have been impressed with him. He has got a lot of room to get better, too, so that is encouraging."
One rule change this year will also help the Navy offensive attack, as the three-point line has been moved back a foot to 20-feet, nine-inches from the 19-9 it was last year. Navy used the new line in practice all last year, and Lange expects the inside game to be aided by the distance.
"It doesn't impact the guys that are really good three-point shooters. It will impact the players that toe the line," said Lange. "We were fortunate that when the rule was discussed in the spring of 2007, we put the new line down. We have been shooting with the new line in place for the last year-and-a-half. Last year in practice, we didn't count any threes unless they were behind the new line, so our guys are pretty used to it.
"It will open up the inside and driving lanes more. A lot of times we will have three or four guys around the arc that can shoot it, so hopefully it will help spread things out a little more," added Lange. "It just changes things defensively. You have to be out a little more, and guard more space."
The Midshipmen are off from practice tomorrow as they continue their preparations for the season opener against Towson on Nov. 14.
# GO NAVY #