Bucknell 85, Navy 77 (Team Stats)
The first half was a thing of beauty. The second half was the stuff of nightmares. That’s how it went for Navy in their Patriot League opener as the Mids fell to Bucknell, 85-77.
This game was an excellent demonstration of everything you need to know about Navy basketball. Navy’s offense consists mostly of setting picks around the perimeter, trying to create an open 3-point attempt; more than half of Navy’s 65 field goal attempts were from beyond the arc. When that doesn’t work, the Mids create their own “open” look by simply shooting from so far away that the defense doesn’t bother guarding them. When the 3-balls fall, Navy can hang with anyone. When they don’t, it gets really ugly, really quickly. Navy went into halftime with a 46-39 lead after shooting almost 44% from 3-point range in the first half. In the second half, Navy shot 28% from 3-point range and was outscored 46-31. I actually cringe when we make those long 3-point attempts because all it does is encourage the Mids to shoot more of them. It’s just unrealistic to expect the team to make those kinds of shots consistently, and when they don’t, they have nothing to fall back on. To compund the problem, how often does a missed 3-pointer turn into a long rebound and transition bucket going the other way? We see it in every game.
Navy played aggressive man-to-man defense for much of the game, and at times it was very effective, generating 9 steals and transition baskets of their own. But aggressive defense doesn’t have to mean reckless defense, and failing to recognize that distinction is what ultimately cost the Mids the game. While the defense did generate steals and turnovers, it also left Bucknell with some wide-open looks, allowing them to shoot 51% from the floor. It also led to some stupid, stupid fouls committed 20+ feet from the basket. Those fouls led to a critical 4-point play in the second half as well as two of Navy’s best shooters, Chris Harris and Greg Sprink, getting into foul trouble. Sprink committed his 4th foul only 3 minutes into the second half, and that was the turning point in the game. With Sprink forced to sit on the bench, Navy scored only two field goals over the next 11 minutes before Greg returned and hit a layup with 6:54 remaining. By then it was too late, as Bucknell had a 10-point lead that the Mids just couldn’t overcome.
As usual, Navy was outrebounded. As usual, Navy’s fortunes turned when the 3-point shooting dried up. But Navy still could have won this game if it played smarter defense. Unfortunately, the Mids made the same mistakes that we’ve seen for all too long, and an opportunity was missed. This year’s Patriot League season has started the way last year’s ended– with a loss in Sojka Pavilion.
Bucknell 85, Navy 77 (Navy Player Stats)
|K. Kina (G)||40||24||9-22||40.9||4-13||30.8||2-2||100||6||5||1||2||3||0||2||1|
|G. Sprink (G)||29||26||9-23||39.1||4-10||40||4-6||66.7||7||4||3||3||5||0||1||4|
|C. Harris (G)||23||11||2-7||28.6||2-5||40||5-7||71.4||1||1||0||4||5||0||1||5|
|R. Garcia (G)||22||0||0-0||0||0-0||0||0-0||0||2||2||0||1||0||0||3||4|
|M. Veazey (C)||10||0||0-0||0||0-0||0||0-0||0||2||2||0||0||0||1||0||2|