The Navy men’s basketball team is on the cusp of accomplishing something the program hasn’t achieved since Ed DeChellis became the head coach prior to the 2011-12 season.
The Midshipmen (7-9 overall and 2-3 in the Patriot League have never won back-to-back conference games under DeChellis. With Wednesday’s 62-61 decision over reigning league champion Bucknell and a Saturday visit to Colgate, they could string together a pair of victories for the first time since the 2010-11 campaign when they won three in a row between Jan. 22 and Jan. 29.
DeChellis is interested in seeing how the players react after the positive outcome against the Bison.
“What we talked about after the Army loss [on Jan. 11] was we needed to respond,” DeChellis said Thursday. “How would this team respond to a loss at home to one of our rivals, and they responded very well. Now the challenge is, you’ve won one game, but we haven’t won two in a row in our league in a while. We haven’t won a road game since Binghamton [on Nov. 16]. How are we going to respond to the next challenge? So this will tell us a little bit more about our team. I think they told me a little bit last night by how they came out and how they started the game and how they played and competed. And so this will tell us a little more. Can we win two in a row? Can we win a league game on the road?”
A victory over the Raiders (6-10, 0-5) would help lift Navy into the hunt for the Patriot League regular-season title and a high seed in the conference tournament. But DeChellis cautioned that it’s too early to begin speculating about tournament seeding.
“I think it’s such a long year, and I thought the league was going to be really balanced, and it’s really shown out to be that way,” he said. “BU [Boston University] and American are still undefeated in the league. Army got beat last night. I think it’s the same. I think anybody can beat anybody in the league on any given night whether you’re playing at home or playing away. So it’s a long race, and we’ve got a chance. Our guys have to play well and we have to play out of our skin on several nights. We need some different guys to do that, but at least we’re able to coach during the game and we’ve had some close losses in the league. So I don’t think we’re that far away, but we need guys to play better. What’s encouraging to me is we haven’t really played our best basketball. I think we have some guys that are improving, but we haven’t played our best yet. I think when we can get our guys playing better individually, then we can play with anybody in our league.”