A strong showing in the Colonial Athletic Association basketball tournament may have saved Pete Herrmann's job, as the Navy coach was granted a new contract yesterday.
The Naval Academy declined to disclose terms of the deal, but Herrmann -- whose teams have had losing records four straight seasons -- will be the man to lead the Midshipmen into their inaugural season in the Patriot League next season.
"We're pleased with the new contract, and we're eagerly looking forward to the move to the Patriot League and playing in the Alumni Hall [which opens next season]," said Herrmann, in a prepared statement. He also noted his coaching staff's "appreciation of the support of all the people in the Annapolis area. It's been terrific, and we hope to give them something to cheer about next season."
Going into the CAA tournament, the Midshipmen had just two conference wins and no back-to-back victories. But the eighth-seeded Midshipmen stunned top-seeded James Madison, 85-82, on Saturday, then played even with George Mason in the CAA semifinals before losing, 93-86, in overtime.
Though the Midshipmen failed to win 10 games for the third straight season, the style of play Herrmann implemented this season -- a fast-breaking, three-point offense and pressure defense -- was crowd-pleasing and kept the team in a lot of games. Twelve of the losses were by nine points or fewer , and the Midshipmen led the CAA in scoring (84 points per game).
"I thought the style was an improvement from the year before," said Navy athletic director Jack Lengyel, who announced the new contract. "It's a brand-new system, and as the season progressed they improved."
Though Lengyel said Navy's performance during the weekend played a role in offering Herrmann a new contract, the athletic director said the decision was based on other factors as well.
"What we do is wait until the end of the season and evaluate the entire program," Lengyel said. "Pete has outstanding character and represents the academy well. A lot of what he does off the court compensates for win-loss record."
Herrmann's only winning season was his first, when, with David Robinson, the Midshipmen finished 1986-87 with a 26-6 record and an automatic bid to the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament. After Robinson's departure, Navy went 12-16, and in the past two years the team has failed to win more than four CAA games.
The loss to George Mason was Navy's last in the CAA. Next season, the Midshipmen will Fordham, Colgate, Holy Cross, Army, Lafayette, Lehigh and Bucknell in the Patriot League.