View From The Booth

Welcome to our first basketball column of the season. Through the end of the season we'll examine Navy basketball, the Patriot League and issues on the national level.

All Aboard!

There is nothing more demoralizing for a team than to lose someone you feel you match up with pretty well. Then, the opponent blows you off your own floor, and then jumps up and down like they just beat Tennessee.

Ah, but at Navy, character counts! There was no doubt in my mind that Women's coach Tom Marryott and his staff would come back with a great game plan and his kids would come back with a great effort in winning on the road at Lehigh on Tuesday night. Stabler Arena hasn't exactly been kind to the Mids lately -- Navy's last win there came back in 2001.

Five players scored in double figures, led by Ashley Pelzek's 23 and Lauren Skrel scored eight of her 17 in the extra session. Betsy Burnett had 12, and Kate Hobbs posted 10, and a player who I think is rising in stature, the Knapster, as I like to call her on air, Margaret Knap, had 10 points and three assists off the pine, helping Navy's bench outscore Lehigh's, 21-8.

This Navy women's team is too deep and too talented to play like it did on Saturday. They showed you what they were made of Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, around the league, if Tuesday's results don't tell you this league is wide-open, what will?Army is going to be a force to be reckoned with after the hiring of Maggie Dixon as coach. Her brother Jamie is the coach at Pitt, and she was thought highly enough of to be a top-assistant to Doug Bruno, in just five seasons away from graduating from the University of San Diego. Look further into the Army success so far and you'll find many recruits on the roster from the Maryland-Virginia area. 

Tuesday night's heroes, Stefanie Stone and Alex McGuire are from Maryland. Stone played at Leonardtown High, and McGuire played in Lee Rogers' great program at Arundel.

Army is 2-0, as is Bucknell who started 2-0 after drubbing American Tuesday.

In Men's play, it is clearly turning into the Bucknell Invitational. Teams will lose some league games where no matter how good they are, but as long as Bucknell is the top-seed and plays at the great Sojka Pavillion, they are going back to the Big Dance to do some more damage and will undoubtedly be the highest seeded Patriot League team ever.

In national notes:

A BIG WIN FOR QUINN.

Tuesday night Missouri played a great game at Oklahoma and defeated the Sooners. After starting 4-4, the Tigers are now 9-4 and playing some of its best basketball in the Snyder era, which is in danger of ending if the Duke grad doesn't have a good season.

APPEARANCE ISN'T EVERYTHING.

Look at Gonzaga All-American forward Adam Morrison. On the surface, you would say no way he's a hoopster. Then, he goes out and schools you the entire game. My question about the Zags is does he have enough help? Youth and inexperience could be the undoing of the Zags come tourney time. When the ball is not in Morrison's hands late, they take some bad shots.

MID-MAJOR SLEEPER CELLS.

Have you heard of Winthrop? How about Air Force? You thought the Falcons were good under Joe Scott and Chris Mooney, they are even better under former UMBC and Denver Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik. They already have wins over Miami and Georgia Tech who recently beat nationally ranked teams such as Maryland and Boston College. They may be deserving of a top-25 spot.

Winthrop, won at Marquette, and lost by two at Auburn, and by three at Alabama. Radford is just getting back to full strength with Andre Bynum coming back and give a tip of the cap to leading scorer, senior Whit Holcomb-Faye. Holcomb-Faye was suspended at the end of last season by head coach Byron Samuels. Instead of quitting and pouting, Holcomb-Faye has come back strong and led the Highlanders to wins over East Tenneessee State and Bowling Green out of league. The Highlanders Chris Oliver could be the most under appreciated player in the league. Oliver averages 19.7 points and 10 rebounds per game.

Others to eye: Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Akron, and Western Kentucky....


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