Coaches in almost every sport are fond of saying that last year’s success (or failure) has no bearing on next season's, which may explain Navy’s place in the Patriot League preseason poll.
Despite returning eight of 10 starters who helped the team capture a share of the conference’s regular-season title, the Midshipmen were picked to finish second in the preseason poll. Navy wasn’t the only one snubbed, as Colgate, the Patriot League tournament champion, was voted third.
Loyola Maryland, which finished fourth in the conference standings, was named the preseason favorite. But Navy coach Rick Sowell dismissed any notion of feeling slighted.
“I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it or worrying about it because wherever you’re picked in January, it’s all before the action starts,” he said. “It’s all about proving it on the field. Last year, we weren’t picked second, but we came in first. Whether you’re picked first or second or ninth, you just can’t spend any time worrying about it, because we’re going to have eight opportunities in the conference to prove how we stack up against the league, and then we’ll have five nonconference games for 13 opportunities, and that’s how we look at it. They’re opportunities to see how good we are.”
The 2015 crown was the program’s sixth in its 12 years of Patriot League competition. The Mids missed out on what would have been their sixth tournament championship, but last year’s 9-5 overall record and 6-2 conference mark was the first above-.500 campaign in Sowell’s four-year tenure and the foundation for optimism in Annapolis.
“I feel we took a step forward last year,” Sowell acknowledged. “… But now taking that next step is not easy. I feel like things are going well in recruiting and the culture that we’ve developed here is moving in the right direction, but by no means are we there yet. We know that there’s a lot of work to be done, but I would say that I’m excited and looking forward to the year and hopefully, we’ll be able to accomplish all of our goals.”