June 25, 2008
From Navy Athletic Communications
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Navy men's basketball coach Billy Lange has released the 2008-09 men's basketball schedule that features seven non-conference home games and four teams that appeared in postseason play from a year ago. Included on the slate are a pair of national powers in Virginia Tech and Villanova and newcomers Radford, Wofford and Elon.
"We always strive to build a schedule that allows us to find a balance to be competitive, but also allows us to be sensitive of the academic rigors that the Naval Academy provides its student-athletes," said Navy head coach Billy Lange. "Jason Crafton and Scott Strasemeier have helped immensely to help us find that balance. We are very excited about this schedule. Our big focus is to develop consistency and chemistry as we enter the Patriot League slate in January and we feel this non-conference schedule will enable us to to that and will allow us to mature and prepare for the Patriot League season.
"We have some traditional powers, and some new teams on it that had a lot of success last year," said Lange. "This year has a more condensed schedule due to the season starting a week later and with some of the success we had last year, we found it a little bit tougher to find some games. But we feel very good about this year's non-conference foes. It will be a challenging start for us."
Navy will begin the season in the Baltimore-metro area on Nov. 14, at regional rival Towson. The game, which will be played one night before the Navy-Notre Dame football game at M&T Bank Stadium on Nov. 15, is a rematch from a 73-59 Navy victory a year ago in Annapolis that snapped a three-game Towson winning streak in the series. The Tigers went 13-18 last season and finished ninth in the competitive Colonial Athletic Association, and will return four starters from last year's team.
The Mids will return home for a pair of games in three days, hosting Howard on Nov. 16, at 1:00 pm in the home opener, before hosting St. Francis (N.Y.) on Nov. 18, at 7:00 pm. Navy fell to Howard, 75-65, a year ago in Washington, D.C. The Mids defeated St. Francis (N.Y.), 85-83, in late December last season. The win over St. Francis (N.Y.) kick-started the Navy season, as the Mids went 11-6 after that victory.
Another CAA opponent awaits the Mids on Nov. 22, as Navy will head south to historic Williamsburg, Va., to face William & Mary for a 7:00 pm tilt. The Tribe is coming off a 17-16 season, their first winning season in a decade, and an appearance in their first CAA Tournament title game falling to George Mason, 68-59. William & Mary will return three starters from that team as it looks to improve on its 2007-08 season.
Following the trip to William & Mary, Navy will begin a three-game homestand on Tuesday, Nov. 25, by hosting Maryland-Eastern Shore. Navy defeated the Fighting Hawks, 85-61, last year and lead the all-time series, 4-1.
A new opponent on the 2008-09 slate, Radford comes to Alumni Hall on Nov. 29, for a 7:00 pm contest. The Highlanders were 10-20 last year and 5-9 in the Big South Conference, but did pick up wins over UNC-Asheville (Big South representative in the title game) and Gardner-Webb (who won at Kentucky last year), while losing an overtime decision at Air Force.
Capping off the three-game homestand, Texas-San Antonio comes to Annapolis for a Dec. 2 contest in Alumni Hall. The Roadrunners, who are returning the game that was played at the Alamodome last season, went 13-17 last year, but boasted a very young lineup that was plagued by injuries. The Roadrunners, who will be led by the 2008 NCAA leader in steals, sophomore guard Devin Gibson, were one of the more athletic teams Navy played last year.
Navy will then hit the road for a five-game roadswing that will feature its toughest opponents of the year. Navy will open the road trip by heading north to Philadelphia for a Dec. 5 game against Penn in one of the most famous arenas in the world, the Palestra. The contest will be played one night before the annual Army-Navy football game to be contested at Lincoln Financial Field, also in Philadelphia. Penn and Navy have met 79 times, with the Quakers holding a 57-22 advantage. Penn welcomes back four starters, including three rising sophomores, from a team that went 13-18 overall and 8-6 in the Ivy League.
Two days later on Dec. 7, Navy faces another stern test in Virginia Tech. The contest, which will tip at 5:00 pm, will be the first game of the BB&T Classic at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., preceding a battle between Maryland and George Washington. The Hokies were a controversial snub in the NCAA Tournament last year, posting a 21-14 record and a 9-7 mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Seth Greenburg's team reached the NIT Quarterfinals and will return four starters from last year's squad.
Ending a three-game in five-day stretch, Navy travels to Emmitsburg, Md., to face Mount St. Mary's on Dec. 9. The Mountaineers were 19-15 last year and reached the NCAA Tournament after winning the Northeast Conference tournament. Mount St. Mary's will return four starters and will likely be the Northeast Conference favorite in 2008-09.
Following an 11-day layoff for final exams, Navy will travel to Buffalo, N.Y., for a return game against Canisius on Dec. 20. Navy defeated Canisius in the teams' first meeting last year, 71-60. Canisius welcomes back nine of its top 10 leading scorers and was the sixth-youngest team in the country last year en route to a 6-25 mark.
Navy ends its five-game, 18-day road trip with a tilt at Big East power Villanova on Dec. 22, beginning at 7:30 pm. Villanova reached the Sweet 16 a year ago with a 22-13 record and will return every player from that squad. The Wildcats will likely be ranked among the nation's top 20 when the preseason polls come out in late October.
It will also be a homecoming of sorts for head coach Billy Lange, as he served on Jay Wright's staff from 2002-04. It will mark the second time Lange will bring his team back to Villanova as the Wildcats held off a Navy rally in the second half for a 70-61 decision on Nov. 25, 2006.
The Mids will then break for a few days for the holidays, but will return to Annapolis to prepare for a pair of home games. Navy entertains Longwood, who was a new Division I member last year, on Dec. 30, before taking on Wofford on Jan. 2. The Lancers were 9-22 last year, but return 11 letterwinners, including their top two scorers from a year ago. Wofford, meanwhile, was 16-16 overall, while competing in the Southern Conference. Included in the victories was a 69-66 win at NCAA second-round participant, Purdue.
Navy will close out the non-conference portion of the schedule with a road battle at Elon on Jan. 5. The Phoenix went 14-19 last year, but advanced to the Southern Conference Tournament title game, giving Davidson all it could handle in a 65-49 setback. Elon will return three starters from last year's squad.
"We have scheduled quite a few teams that will likely be better than they were last year and several teams that had great runs in their postseason tournaments," said Lange. "William & Mary, Mount St. Mary's and Elon all reached their conference title games. Several of the teams return many key players and figure to contend for their conference championship."
The Mids will open Patriot League play in a rematch of the epic three-overtime contest in the Patriot League Tournament quarterfinals against Bucknell on Jan. 10. The game will be played at 7:00 pm in Alumni Hall. Navy will play at Lehigh (Jan. 14) and Lafayette (Jan. 17) on the road, then will alternate home-and-away games against Holy Cross (Jan. 21), Army (Jan. 24), American (Jan. 28) and Colgate (Jan. 31). Four of Navy's last six league contests will come at Alumni Hall, including the annual Star Game against Army on Feb. 21.
Games that will be televised will be announced at a later date.
Navy went 16-14 last year and will return four starters from that squad, including rising senior Kaleo Kina, who needs 13 points for 1,000 in his career, and rising junior Chris Harris, a 2008 second-team All-Patriot League selection. The Mids finished second in the Patriot League with a 9-5 record