The Washington Times - August 5, 2009, 12:49PM

The slow trickle of basketball schedules continues with … Navy, which is coming off a third-place finish in the Patriot League last season.

Gone are Kaleo Kina, Adam Teague and Clif Colbert. Back are O.J. Ovworo, Chris Harris and Mark Veazey, as well as a healthy Romeo Garcia.

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So that will make the Mids interesting. Good enough to wrest control of the PL? Still to be determined, especially with Holy Cross looking rather imposing. But the schedule certainly has some interesting twists

The condensed plot: There’s no arguing with progress, and coach Billy Lange (a one-time Jay Wright assistant) took over a five-win program in the spring of 2004 and proceeded to collect 10, 10, 14, 16 and 19 victories in succeeding seasons. It’s bolstered Navy’s program and also netted Lange an interview at Virginia Commonwealth last season. The one thing missing from the resume is an NCAA tournament berth, and the Mids’ inability to make it win its opener in the Patriot League tournament the last eight years is an obvious splotch on an otherwise impressive turnaround in recent years.

Home/road/neutral schedule split: 14/14/1

Home highlight: Navy has a fascinating game with Buffalo, a solid, burgeoning MAC program, set for its home opener on Nov. 19. But without a big name in the basketball world paying a visit, the Jan. 23 date with Army figures to be a substantial game. The rivals have split their season series in six straight seasons.

Best road venue: Verizon Center. Navy is short on high-profile road trips, once again mostly avoiding guarantee games in favor of playing comparable opponents in home-and-home arrangements. But the Mids will again be part of the BB&T Classic on Dec. 6, meeting George Washington in the first game of a doubleheader featuring Villanova and Maryland.

Best opponent: With only one power-conference team on the schedule, this one isn’t too surprising. Seton Hall was undermanned last year in the Big East, but maniacal coach Bobby Gonzalez kept the Pirates competitive. Navy makes a trip to North Jersey on Dec. 22 to face what should be a much-improved team from the Hall.

Glad to see you come: New to the schedule from last season are Buffalo, Coppin State, George Washington, Long Island, Quinnipiac and Seton Hall.

Pivotal stretch: The final four games of the regular season could prove a headache. There are home dates with league powers Holy Cross and American, and visits to Army (for the annual regionally televised game in CBS) and Colgate (last year’s win snapped a six-game skid in Hamilton). An even split would bode well heading into the conference tournament.

Delmarva/D.C. head-to-head: @Radford (Nov. 13), @Longwood (Nov. 15), Towson (Nov. 24), Mount St. Mary’s (Nov. 28), vs. George Washington (Dec. 6), @UMES (Dec. 9), Coppin State (Dec. 30), @Howard (Jan. 4), @American (Jan. 27), American (Feb. 24).

Previously: Radford

Patrick Stevens