After much debate and soul searching, I decided to not let the lightweight football team defend its title. I decided that even though they are technically qualified (varsity sport), that there just isn't enough competition to fairly compare them to other Navy teams. That decision, which I'm sure will be debated endlessly, was made easier since the
To the select few of you loyal readers who did not memorize my criteria, here again is how I tried to figure out which teams were better (and worse) than the others.
First and foremost, I looked at the sport team's success or failure against Army. Since Navy's teams play at different levels in the college sports worlds, the easiest and most dependable measuring stick of a team's season is how the unit did against Army. Next, I looked at how the team faired against Air Force if it was applicable. Third, I looked at how the group performed in its respective league. Fourth, I looked at the strength of the opponents each team played. Finally, I looked at individual performances, trends against Army, and my infallible gut instinct to break any ties.
I have decided to once again not include the sailing and rowing teams in the rankings for a variety of reasons, but mainly because they are really difficult to evaluate by the aforementioned criteria.
Last season's rankings are in ( ). Here are the bottom five.
22. (20) Volleyball – After back-to-back successful seasons (21 and 17 wins respectively) the women's volleyball team took a pretty big step backwards this season, posting an 8-21 overall record. If you are looking for a highlight for the season it would definitely be their four-set victory over Army in the non-star match. The Mids still have a long way to go to improve on their overall record against the Cadets (10-34), but hopefully the last match will provide some momentum into 2010. Another concern is the fact that they finished with a 3-11 record in Patriot League play which included an earlier loss to Army in the star-match.
21. (14) Golf – Since a major criteria in the rankings is how a team fares against Army, the Navy golf team tumbled down the standings this year after beating the Black Knights last season head-to-head as well as finishing ahead of them in the Patriot League Tournament. This season, they failed to do either, dropping a 6-5 match to Army and finishing fourth of out seven teams (Army was 3rd) in the Patriot League Tournament. The Mids did manage to win both the Navy Fall Classic and the Navy Spring Invitational, but losing to Air Force by 34 strokes in the Service Academy Classic has got to hurt. Sure, it might make for a few good jokes amongst alumni (Air Force should be good at golf, etc…), but I'm sure that does not help the team much.
20. (16) Men's Basketball – After beating Holy Cross on Feb. 17, the men's basketball team's record was 13-13 overall and more importantly 7-4 in the Patriot League. The thrilling 83-80 victory put the Mids only one game behind Lehigh for the conference lead. Unfortunately for Billy Lange and company, the win over the Crusaders would be their last of the season. In their next game, they lost by 19 in the star contest to Army and then dropped games to American (by three) and to Colgate by 12. Their 7-7 record earned the Mids a fifth seed in the Patriot League Tournament where they faced the fourth-seeded Eagles (10-19). Win and Navy would move on to the semi-finals for the first time in 9 years; lose and it would be the last game in the brilliant career of Chris Harris. Unfortunately, despite Harris' 20 points, the Mids lost 62-60 to put the cap on an extremely disappointing campaign which actually had some fans calling for Lange to be fired. Although that seems a bit extreme, it is a good bet that Navy's ability to hang onto recruits, a problem in recent years, will get a lot of attention going forward.
19. (21) Baseball – The baseball team may have moved up two slots from last season's ranking, but there are still plenty of concerns in
18. (19) Men's Track and Field – Although their season is technically not over (NCAA preliminaries are this week in Greensboro, N.C.), the track and field team will head into the off-season after another mediocre season that saw them lose to both Army's outdoor and indoor teams. A consolation for the Mids who finished third in the Patriot League Tournament (outdoor and indoor) is the performance of distance runner Andrew Hanko. The junior won both the 1,500 meter and 5K races at the Patriot League Tournament and garnered All-East Honors at the IC4A Championships.