You might think the last thing third-seeded Navy would do in preparation for its Patriot League quarterfinal game against Colgate at Alumni Hall on Wednesday at 7 p.m. is review its last outing in this tournament. After all, who would want to relive John Griffin sinking a 50-foot shot at the buzzer to lift Bucknell to an 87-86 triple-overtime victory and send the Midshipmen to their eighth straight loss in the league tournament? Navy would, that’s who. The Midshipmen are using last season’s devastating defeat as motivation going into this year’s game.
“I’m not going to lie to you,” Navy Coach Billy Lange said. “We mention it weekly, because you take the experience and not every experience needs to be a great experience to be a great experience. . . . I’m not going to sit there and dwell on that one single shot that John Griffin hit. We’re going to talk about all the things that happened before that that I think have made us a much better basketball team this year and much more prepared for this game on Wednesday night.”
From last year’s triple-overtime upset to 28-point blowouts, Navy (19-10) has found all sorts of ways to lose in the Patriot League tournament recently. The Midshipmen haven’t won a tournament game since 2001, but half of those losses came in overtime, including three of the last five. They are 4-11 overall in the quarterfinal round.
“We’re responsible for the history of Navy basketball because we’re a part of it,” said Lange who is 0-4 in the tournament. “But at the same [time], our legacy is not what happened prior to these seniors getting here. . . . Coming into this game on Wednesday night, [the players are] confident they can beat anyone, but we’re also very humble. We’re humble enough to understand that we can lose to anybody, so I’m not even going to bring [the eight-game losing streak] up other than to tell them not to worry about it.”
This is the fourth time that Navy will be facing the same opponent in the tournament opener that it closed out the regular season against. Although Navy beat Colgate (9-19) on Saturday, 77-64, to sweep the season series, the Midshipmen have not enjoyed much success lately against the Raiders. Colgate had won seven in a row and 12 of its last 13 against Navy before this season.
“Colgate is a team,” Lange said, “that beat our senior class every year, twice a year, until this year.”
As last year’s tournament proved, playing at home is no guarantee of victory for Navy. Alumni Hall usually has been kind to the Midshipmen, however. They are 12-2 on their home court this season and 9-1 in Patriot League tournament games – the only loss being last year’s setback to Bucknell.
“Home court really doesn’t mean that much,” Lange said. “I mean we’re proud to have it. It’s a feather in our cap, and our crew here will do a great job having people in the arena. But in the end, you’ve got to win the game. That’s the most important thing.”
March 4, 2009; 6:03 AM ET
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