Navy basketball wrapped up the non-conference portion of their schedule on Saturday night, winning the second of two games with Longwood, 73-55. After a sloppy first half that ended in a 23-23 tie, the Mids charged ahead in the second half, scoring 50 points to put away the Lancers (4-14). The win moves Navy to 7-8 as they closed out the first half of the season. That might be the shakiest 7-8 record in history, too. The Mids won 4 in a row after a 3-8 start, and those 4 wins came against teams that have a combined 9-56 record so far this season. Yes, every win is a good win at Navy. But let’s be real here; who didn’t expect to win these last 4 games, even when we were 3-8? Even before the season started I said that the last 4 games of our non-conference slate were going to be a cakewalk. And for the most part, they were. Now the real test begins, as Navy heads to Bucknell on Friday to open the Patriot League season.
Bucknell is not the same team that they’ve been the last few years. Gone are notorious goat-killers Abe Badmus and Chris McNaughton, although they are still a talented group. Nevertheless, at 5-9 with a 2-3 record vs. RPI 200+, this should be a game in which, at least on paper, Navy should compete. But paper only tells us so much. Six of Navy’s 7 wins (and two of their losses) have been against teams with an RPI of 200+. Yeah, a win is a win, but some wins tell us more than others. And when it comes to Navy’s 4-game winning streak, I don’t think we learned much.
With both teams relying heavily on jump shots this year, the edge goes to the team that rebounds better. That’s bad news for the Mids. In theory, Navy should match up better physically than in recent games against the Bison. We’ll see.