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Navy brings back the bulk of last year's team

Navy brings back the core of last year's team, including Tilman Dunbar, who missed most of the season due to an academy suspension.
Navy brings back the core of last year's team, including Tilman Dunbar, who missed most of the season due to an academy suspension. (Danny Wild, USA TODAY Sports)

Navy has increased its win total in each season under DeChellis, although the gains have been modest.

The Midshipmen now have three full classes that were recruited by DeChellis and his staff, and they return all five starters from last season, plus standout point guard Tilman Dunbar, who was suspended in late December for a violation of academy rules.

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The 5-foot-10, 163-pound Dunbar was a Patriot League All-Rookie selection after starting all 31 games as a plebe and ranking second in the conference with 4.9 assists per game. He was leading the team in scoring (11.9 points per game) through 10 games a year ago before being suspended.

The Midshipmen also bring back a pair of productive seniors in forward Worth Smith and guard Brandon Venturini. Smith led the team in scoring (11.8 ppg) and rebounding (5.6 per game) last year, while Venturini was second in scoring (11.5) and led the Mids with 86 assists.

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"We're a better basketball team," DeChellis said. "We're much-improved in some areas, and I like our depth."

Their depth on the wing will be tested. Junior Kendall Knorr started 27 of 30 games last year, but he will not be available for Friday's opener against Michigan State due to a lingering knee ailment. Sophomore wings Tim Abruzzo (season-ending knee surgery) and Michael Brown (broken jaw) are also injured.

DeChellis felt the Mids made great strides with regard to rebounding and taking care of the ball last year, and he said a major focus for this season is becoming a better defensive team.

"We're doing some different things philosophically in terms of where we want to force the ball and how we want to rotate," he said.

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