The Mids go in search of their tenth road win of the season on Wednesday night as they travel to Baltimore to take on Loyola. A win would give Navy a second straight season sweep of the Greyhounds, but more importantly it would keep Navy in contention for the second seed in the Patriot League Tournament behind Bucknell. As part of a four way tie for that second sport currently the Mids know they may have to win out from this point onward to grab the seeding advantage.
Here is a look at the three keys for Wednesday night’s game:
1. Defense defense defense
Navy is built like some of those old school Big Ten schools that could beat you by 20 when only scoring 48 points. The Mids are a team that just loves to defend and the players will throw themselves all over the hardwood protecting the basket. That is why Navy leads the Patriot League in scoring defense (63.0 ppg), rebounding margin (+4.5), blocked shots (3.9) and turnovers forced (13.7). With the issues Navy is having at the other end of the court it is more important than ever that the defense continues to be solid. Navy has proven to be outstanding this season at taking out the offenses primary two threats and making lower level players beat them. If this happens again on Wednesday night then there is no reason the Mids cannot pick up a victory.
2. Shoot the three ball better
Navy is 1-4 over its last five games and the primary problem has been the inability of the team to find the basket from long range. Navy ranks last in the entire Patriot League in three-point field goals made per game (3.9) and three-point field goal percentage (28.3%). Over those last five games Navy is somehow much worse than that, going just 13-of-63 from downtown (20.6%). The low point was the most recent game against Colgate when the Mids were a brutal 1-of-14 from being the arc, which comes out to hitting on 7.1% of three point shots taken. It goes without saying that Navy HAS to be better from three point range.
3. Shoot free throws better
What was said above concerning three-point shots over this rocky period also applies to the Mids troubles from the free throw line. Navy also ranks last in the Patriot League in free throw percentage (64.7%) and that just is not acceptable. Over the stretch Navy is 74-of-115 from the charity stripe, which isn’t far from the Mids season average at 64.3%. That problem is that with a five point loss, a three point loss and an overtime loss during that stretch, if the Mids were closer to 80% from the line then they could have easily gone 2-3 or even 3-2 over the last five games. Free throw shooting is a closed skill and you can bet that Navy players have been taking repetition after repetition over the last few days to try and improve this aspect of their collective game.