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Around the Yard: Navy Basketball Excited to Host Veterans Classic and More

Let’s take a look at what’s happening in Annapolis this week, highlighted by the Veterans Classic to kickoff basketball season!

NCAA Basketball: Veterans Classic -Pittsburgh at Navy Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Veterans Classic:

It’s a big weekend in Annapolis as the Navy men’s basketball team will host the Veterans Classic for the fifth time at Alumni Hall on Friday night.

This year’s event will bring Providence and Wichita State in the opening matchup followed by the Maryland against Navy in the nightcap. We will have more on the Veterans Classic in the lead up to Friday, but Coach DeChellis is clearly looking forward to it, telling Glenn Clark Radio that he is “as excited as heck” to face off against the in-state Terrapins. He praised Maryland coach Mark Turgeon for making the decision to stay home for the event.

Come check out the Mids on Friday in what is one of the better athletic spectacles put on by the Naval Academy each and every year!

Also, don’t forget to check out contributor Mitchell Northam’s season preview which will get you caught up on all you need to know as the Mids look to continue to improve on their third place finish in the Patriot League last season!

ODU beats Navy 67-44 to open basketball season:

Speaking of Navy basketball, they kicked off last night against ODU in Norfolk, VA and I was there on hand to watch the first game of the season. It was a mixed back for the Mids on the evening as they hung close for most of the first half before letting the Monarchs seize control before the intermission. Down by 15 at the break, Navy came back out and clawed their way back into the contest, closing within 3 before ODU pulled away for a 67-44 victory.

Navy played tough on defense for most of the contest and were dialed in to what was going on, but the lack of scoring was concerning. George Kiernan was the only player in double figures with 10 and it’s clear he has worked on his game to be more than just an outside shooter, but Navy will need to see others step up around him as they move forward. No one on the team had more than 2 assists and as a team they couldn’t have gotten a triple double as collectively they only dished out 9 of them during the game.

They got outrebounded 46-41 but I felt they fought hard on the glass. Hasan Abdullah will have to cut down on the 5 turnovers moving forward as well as he looks to be the leader on the court this year. The biggest bright spot for me was the play of freshman John Carter Jr., who showed serious hustle and effort and finished with 8 points, 10 rebounds which led the team, and two assists and steals (also leading the team in those categories). They need a number of players to step up, but seeing a Plebe emerge game one like that was reassuring.

Navy Women’s Basketball set to open their season tonight:

After consecutive appearances in the Patriot League Championship game and the NIT tournament, the Navy women’s basketball team will kick off their season tonight when they play host to Catholic University.

Following the loss of senior captains Taylor Dunham and Hannah Fenske and the transfer of starter Kaila Clark at the end of last season, the Mids will look for a number of players to emerge as playmakers this year, and will have to see some elevated play across the board if they hope to make it back to the Championship game and hopefully come out victorious.

The Capital Gazette’s Katherine Fominykh did a great job previewing the season and highlighting what head coach Stefanie Pemper, captain Bianca Roach and the rest of the squad are looking toward as the season nears.

Stand by for much more Navy women’s basketball coverage throughout the season from AAE as we look forward to showcasing one of the more consistent programs at Navy.

Navy men’s soccer standout Jacob Williams named PL Rookie of the Year:

Williams, a freshman from nearby Millersville, earned Rookie of the Year honors following a campaign that saw him net eight goals, good for second in the Patriot League and most on the Navy team.

Navy closed the season on a four game winning streak and Williams was one of the main reasons why.

He was also named Second Team All Patriot League and will anchor what is an improving Navy men’s soccer team for the next several years to come!

Navy Football heads to UCF on Saturday for another tough matchup:

There is no way around it, after getting drubbed by Cincinnati 42-0 last weekend, life does not get any easier for the Midshipmen as they travel to face undefeated Central Florida on Saturday in Orlando.

Currently sitting at #12 in the CFP Rankings (we know they should be higher) and riding an FBS leading 21 game win streak, this is a UCF squad that has barely missed a beat under new coach Josh Heupel.

For a Navy team riding a six-game losing streak, this is hardly the contest you are looking for to try and right the ship, and Coach Niumatalolo admitted that this is “uncharted waters” for his team.

He emphasized that this is where real leadership emerges, and they will continue to trust themselves and their process as they move forward and try and get better.

A season that will not end with a bowl game leaves only a couple opportunities for bright moments the rest of the way, but somehow finding a way to knock off UCF and end their winning streak would certainly be up there. That and the chance to put a dent in Army’s successful season are both still on the table for the Mids at this point.

Coach Heupel appears wary of Navy as it is his coaching staff’s first time facing the option offense. That tends to bode well for the Mids, especially early in games, so the best chance for success will no doubt be a fast start and then trying to hold on down the stretch against a prolific offense led by reigning AAC Player of the Year McKenzie Milton.