Navy women’s basketball remains a work in progress.
Coach Tim Taylor and his troops continue to work and tinker to figure out an effective winning formula.
It has sometimes been two steps forward, one step back for the Midshipmen, who have struggled to a 5-10 overall record. Taylor is hoping his team find its footing during Patriot League play.
“We’re slowly getting better, little by little. That’s what we’re focused on — getting better incrementally each day,” said Taylor, who’s in his second season at the helm. “This team’s had some ups and downs. We’re still trying to put all the pieces together.”
Navy has started the conference campaign 2-3 with both wins coming on the road. The Midshipmen remain winless at home, a problem they hope to remedy Saturday afternoon against the first-place team in the league.
If Navy can knock off Boston University (8-7, 4-0), it would make a strong statement while also solidifying a spot in the middle of the 10-team standings.
The Terriers have been led by junior guard Sydney Johnson, who leads the team in scoring (14 points per game), assists (37) and steals (20). Caitlin Weimar, a 6-foot-4 sophomore forward, is a matchup problem for the undersized Mids. The Marist transfer, who was the Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year as a freshman, is averaging 9.1 points and a team-high 7.5 rebounds.
“Boston is a really good basketball team. They’ve got all the pieces and are pretty deep,” Taylor said. “We’ll have to bring our ‘A’ game to be able to beat this team.”
Boston University clobbered Navy, 82-58, on Jan. 2 as Johnson scored 18 points and Weimar posted a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Navy has sandwiched a pair of gutsy road wins over Bucknell (57-55) and Colgate (65-62) around a disappointing home loss to Lafayette. Leading scorer Jennifer Coleman got into foul trouble and the Midshipmen mustered little offense as a result in falling 54-44 to the Leopards.
Coleman was limited to a season-low 14 points in just 23 minutes before fouling out. That was the one of only two game this season the senior combination guard was held to 22 points or less. She is averaging a double-double with 22.9 points and 10.3 rebounds and also leads Navy with 69 assists and 46 steals.
“Jenn has been absolutely tremendous. She’s putting up fantastic numbers and has been an outstanding leader,” Taylor said. “What’s most impressive is that Jenn has been very efficient offensively. She is maximizing every minute on the court.”
Every opponent plans to shut down Coleman but none have been successful. Taylor and his staff have seen every possible defensive scheme used against the Patriot League Player of the Year candidate.
“Everybody tries to take away Jenn Coleman. Frankly, it’s amazing she has been consistent considering all the defensive attention,” Taylor said. “Jenn knows she has to play well every night. She cannot take a night off.”
Finding offensive help for Coleman has been an ongoing problem for the Midshipmen, who received some encouraging signs on that front during Wednesday’s matinee in Hamilton, New York.
Junior guard Mimi Schrader came off the bench to score 18 points on 5-for-6 shooting, including four 3-pointers. Sophomore guard Sydne Watts totaled 12 points and seven rebounds in the victory.
Watts showed her potential by scoring 18 points against Rider and Bucknell. However, she has been limited to six points or less in eight games this season.
“Sydne can shoot the three, drive the ball and has a decent mid-range game. We’ve always felt she could be a capable scorer,” Taylor said. “We just need Sydne to be more consistent.”
It’s a similar story with Schrader, who has been held scoreless in five games this season and surpassed six just two other times.
Junior wing Lindsay Llewellyn reached double figures in consecutive conference contests versus Holy Cross and Boston. The 5-foot-10 North East resident has only done so in one other game this season.
“Whenever we’ve gotten contributions from other people, we’ve had a chance to win games,” Taylor said. “There are people that have shown the capability of scoring in double figures. We need that group of players to do that more often.”
Navy has been forced to change the way it plays basketball ever since senior guard Kolbi Green left the program in late November. Green, a Baltimore native and McDonogh graduate, was the team’s second-leading scorer with 12.2 points per game and also possessed playmaking ability.
“We’ve definitely had to change things up. With Kolbi, we had two dynamic guards who could get downhill, so we were using a lot of ball-screen action,” Taylor said. “We’re now running a lot more screening and cutting action.”
The Midshipmen have been fairly solid defensively, holding opponents to an average of 63.7 points. However, Taylor knows that number still needs to come down since Navy is only scoring 56.5 points per game itself.
“We’ve always prided ourselves to keeping teams under 60 points and that’s the target we’re aiming for,” he said. “We’re not scoring a whole lot, so we have to defend. Whenever we defend and rebound, we give ourselves a chance to win.”
Navy women’s basketball is about to embark on a rigorous stretch in which plays five games against the four teams picked to finish first through fourth in the preseason Patriot League poll. That stretch also includes the first of two showdowns with archrival Army next Saturday at Alumni Hall in Annapolis.
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