There's always something special about taking in a game at Alumni Hall on the campus of the United States Naval Academy. Not sure if it's just the fact that you know so many great men have gotten their military training there or if it's the fact that the #50 David Robinson, the great Admiral - hoops of course, has his number hanging from the rafters. I'm sure it must be some combination of the two.
I'm sure that is what brought Ed DeChellis here. The former Penn State coach crossed over the Red Line with a year left on his contract to come to the Academy. He brought with him most of his assistants from State College including former Drake head coach Kurt Kanaskie and former Penn State point guard Dan Earl (Danny back in his playing days).
Visitors are allowed on campus, which makes viewing the games easier, but visiting vehicles aren't. So when you travel to see a game you have two options, unless you have an official Department of Defense parking sticker. Lacking one of those your options are to take a shuttle bus from the football stadium parking lot or enter through the visitor's gate, show ID, and walk across campus to the Arena. Being lazy and not having brought a coat, we opted to take the bus. My family, wife and daughter, were along for this trip with me and we were all disappointed when the driver of the US Naval Academy Coach Bus directed us to the yellow school bus sitting in front. But the ride was rather quick and as you enter the Academy you get a good view of the Maryland State Capitol in the backdrop.
The game started on time, but the clock did not. They played a few moments, somehow they settled on 14 seconds, but that seemed high, before play was halted. Whatever the problem with the clock was they got it fixed rather quickly, but as the gentleman across the aisle from me, "What did we expect? It was a piece of US government equipment." Made me chuckle.
Both teams have struggled a bit on the early season. The Mount entered with a 1-3 record, while Navy came in at 2-4 having dropped four in a row. Still the game got off to an exciting beginning. Some pressure defense from the Mount seemed to force the pace a bit and after a Raven Barber bucket seven and a half minutes in the game was tied at 14.
DeChellis made a nice move at that point and went to a zone defense. The zone proved effective and helped the Midshipmen score the next 11 points and 15 of 17 to grab a 12-point advantage. JJ Avila scored 10 of 19 points during the first half, while Jordan Sugars who had 15 points and 11 rebounds had 10 rebounds before the break.
The lead ballooned to 14 after a Sugars three early in the first half.
That also started a comeback of sorts for the Mount. Over the next 14 minutes, the Mount would shave 11 points off the Navy lead. Freshmen Chad Holley and Kelvin Parker fueled the rally for the Mounties. Parker led the Mount with 14 points, 11 in the second half, while Holley had all 11 of his points in the second half. Holley's three-pointer with 3:07 cut the lead to three and made things tense at Alumni Hall.
However, Sugars who made 3-of-4 three pointers on the evening hit a long jumper from the left hand wing to restore the lead to six and in reality put an end to any further comeback hopes.
Thurgood Wynn 12 points and Worth Smith 11 points and 7 rebounds also had good nights for Navy. Danny Thompson had 7 points and 6 rebounds for the Mountaineers before fouling out.
at NAVY 64, MOUNT SAINT MARY'S 56 11/27/2011
MOUNT SAINT MARY'S 1-4 (0-0) -- P. Woods 5-11 2-5 12; J. Norfleet 1-6 0-0 3; K. Parker 5-8 1-3 14; K. Krajina 3-5 1-2 7; D. Thompson 2-4 3-3 7; R. Barber 4-8 0-0 8; X. Owens 3-6 0-0 6; C. Holley 2-6 6-6 11; J. Castellanos 0-0 0-0 0; D. Kenny 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-43 11-14 56. NAVY 3-4 (0-0) -- W. Smith 4-6 2-2 11; J. Avila 7-13 4-4 19; J. Sugars 5-11 2-5 15; J. Brickman 1-5 2-2 5; T. Wynn 4-8 4-5 12; I. Roberts 0-0 0-0 0; K. Alter 0-1 0-0 0; J. Loupos 0-0 0-0 0; C. Smith 1-2 0-0 2; B. Venturini 0-1 0-0 0; D. Jackson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-48 14-18 64.
Three-point goals: MSM 5-14 (J. Norfleet 1-4; C. Holley 1-3; X. Owens 0-2; K. Parker 3-5), NAVY 6-13 (J. Sugars 3-4; J. Avila 1-3; K. Alter 0-1; J. Brickman 1-2; W. Smith 1-2; B. Venturini 0-1); Rebounds: MSM 22 (D. Thompson 6), NAVY 25 (J. Sugars 11); Assists: MSM 9 (J. Norfleet 3), NAVY 15 (J. Sugars 3); Total Fouls -- MSM 18, NAVY 13; Fouled Out: MSM-D. Thompson; NAVY-None.