Basketball season already? Hell yeah. Navy opens the 2007-2008 campaign with the first of two games this year against Longwood. Tip-off is at 7:30 in Farmville.
This is Longwood’s first season as a full-fledged Division I member, having completed their four-year “reclassification” period. The Mids faced the Lancers last year in an ugly, turnover-filled 61-59 win. Navy was down 7 with 3:33 left to play, but Greg Sprink and Corey Johnson led a Navy comeback and forced the game into overtime. Navy shot 4 for 4 in the extra frame, including an Adam Teague 3-pointer, to take a 9-point lead and eventually hang on for the win. Greg Sprink had 16 points, and Corey Johnson had 12, with 11 of those coming in the second half and overtime. Kaleo Kina had 11 points and 3 steals.
Longwood has three starters returning from last year’s game: forward Lamar Barrett, Magruder High School product Brandon Giles, a 5-10 guard, and the Lancers’ most athletic player, 6-6, 200-pound forward Kirk Williams. Williams had 12 points and 5 rebounds against Navy last year and is Longwood’s leading returning scorer, having averaged 10.2 points per game. Along with his 4.8 rebounds per game, Williams also had 30 assists, 25 steals, and 16 blocks last season.
Navy’s projected starters for this game according to the Navy game notes are Sprink, Brooks, Biles, Harris, and Kina.
Matchup to watch: Longwood’s most athletic player, Williams, vs. Navy’s most athletic player, Scott Brooks.
Key to the game: Bench scoring. Last year, Navy outscored Longwood 14-1 off the bench. This year, the Mids look like they’re as deep as they have been in a long time, with T.J. Topercer, Adam Teague, and Derek Young all having seen significant playing time last year.
The women’s team also plays tonight, against Rice in the Winthrop Classic.