Drexel (2-0) beat Navy hoops yesterday, 86-70. That looks bad, but it could have been a whole lot worse. The Dragons were in control from the beginning as the Mids had no answer for Frank Elegar, the 6-9 center named preseason all-CAA and considered by many to be an NBA prospect. Elegar had 24 points and 14 rebounds as Navy didn’t have anyone to really match up with him. The loss drops the Mids to 1-1 and sort of brings them back to earth after an impressive opening victory.
It shouldn’t bring them down too much, though. Navy got off to a slow start and trailed Drexel at halftime, 49-29. Both teams could have coasted after that, but they didn’t. Navy went on two separate runs of 13-3 and 13-4 to cut the lead to nine, 77-69. Drexel went on a run of their own to put the game away at the end, but the Mids deserve credit for the way they battled back in the second half. Drexel is as good a team as any that Navy will face this year, and Billy Lange’s squad wasn’t exactly run off the court. There are no moral victories, but it wasn’t a loss to panic over either.
The Good: Other than the team’s second half effort, the best part of the game might have been the performance of Mark Veazey. Coming off the bench to play 21 minutes, the plebe big man had 10 points on 5-7 shooting, 6 rebounds, 1 blocked shot and 3 steals. Two of those buckets were putbacks after offensive rebounds. All this coming against what assistant coach Eugene Burroughs described as possibly the best center that Veazey would go up against all year.
Chris Harris was another bright spot for the Mids, putting up 16 points.
Navy was outrebounded for the second game in a row, but they actually had more offensive rebounds than Drexel (13-9).
The Bad: I was worried after the Longwood game what our offense would look like if all the threes we were chucking didn’t fall, and yesterday I found out. Navy was 9-30 behind the arc. The Mids only shot 36% from the floor, although they were at a more respectable 43% in the second half.
The Ugly: Greg Sprink had 13 points and 8 rebounds, but getting there wasn’t pretty. Greg shot 5-17 from the floor, including 1-8 from 3-point range. Some of those 3-point attempts were shot that no player in any league would have any business attempting. It appears that Chris Harris might be emerging as a consistent shooter, so hopefully we’ll see fewer of those wild shots. Kaleo Kina joined Sprink in the freezer, shooting 3-11 from the floor and 1-5 from 3-point range. He finished with 10 points.
Scott Brooks was 0-4 from the floor and had 3 turnovers. Adam Teague and Bryce Brigham both had much more productive games in equally limited playing time, and either may start ahead of Brooks on Wednesday.
Next up: The home opener vs. the NEC’s Robert Morris on Wednesday night. Finishing 16-11 a year ago, the Colonials have a new head coach in former Pitt assistant Mike Rice and were picked to finish second in their conference. RMU opened with a 72-66 win at home against Iona. Junior guard Jeremy Chappell came off the bench to lead the Colonials with 20 points, while forward A.J. Jackson added 16 points and 5 rebounds. An undersized team, RMU relies on the quickness of its guards and started 3 against Iona. Chappell and fellow guard Tony Lee had 4 steals apiece and led a defense that forced the Gaels into 21 turnovers. Navy might have a tougher time wearing down Robert Morris than they did Longwood; the Colonials’ bench outscored Iona 34-19 as 6 different players logged at least 20 minutes of playing time.