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Navy men’s basketball preview: Midshipmen look to continue upward under DeChellis

Navy hasn’t made the NCAA tournament since 1998. Will that change in Ed DeChellis’ eighth season at the helm of the Midshipmen?

NCAA Basketball: Navy at Miami Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Navy’s men’s basketball team will begin its eighth season under head coach Ed DeChellis on Tuesday by taking a trip down the Chesapeake Bay to face Old Dominion. It won’t be an easy season opener, as the Monarchs won 25 games last season and are ranked in the KenPom Top 100 to start the season. It is the first time in five seasons that Navy will begin the season away from Annapolis.

The Midshipmen finished last year’s regular season strong, winning seven of their last nine games, but had an early exit in the Patriot League tournament, losing to Holy Cross at home.

Navy was picked to finish eighth in the Patriot League preseason poll. The reasoning behind that seems to be that Navy lost three starters to graduation.

While DeChellis seems to have the Midshipmen trending in the right direction, it’s been two decades since they have appeared in the NCAA tournament. To end that nasty drought this year, Navy will need role players to step up.

The Basics

2017-18 Record: 20-12 (11-7 Patriot League), lost in quarterfinals of conference tournament.
Key Returners: Hasan Abdullah (Senior, Guard), George Kiernan (Senior, Forward), Evan Wieck (Junior, Forward), Cam Davis (Sophomore, Guard)
Key Losses: Shawn Anderson, Bryce Dulin, Mo Lewis
2017-18 KenPom: 225th
Preseason KenPom: 273rd

Key Non-Conference Games

The path to the NCAA tournament for all teams in the Patriot League is to win the conference tournament outright. So, while these games might not have a ton of impact on Navy’s chance to make the big dance, they should still be fun to watch.

Nov. 9 vs. Maryland
Nov. 28 vs. Liberty
Dec. 5 at Delaware
Dec. 9 at Lipscomb
Dec. 21 at George Mason

X-Factor

Birmingham, Alabama native Hasan Abdullah has had an increased role the past two seasons, playing 27 to 30 per-game most nights. But if Navy wants to take the next step, Abdullah will have to continue to raise his game as a floor general, a creator and a defender. As a junior, he averaged 9.9 points, 3.4 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 2.2 steals per-game. He also improved his three-point shooting, knocking down 35 percent of his shots from behind the arc. The 6-foot guard showed the ability to score in bunches last season, tallying double-digit points in 16 games. If he continues to improve his game, Navy’s record should rise as well.

Required Reading

Capital Gazette: Navy basketball needs young, inexperienced players to step up

Mid-Major Madness: Patriot League Preseason Power Rankings: Is this the year to unseat Bucknell?

NavySports.com: Harris Hired as Navy Men’s Basketball Assistant

PressBox: Navy Basketball HC Ed DeChellis ‘Excited As Heck’ To Play Maryland In Veterans Classic

Capital Gazette: New-look Navy basketball squad opens season at Old Dominion