ANNAPOLIS — Navy basketball coach Ed DeChellis didn't know who would play point guard for the Midshipmen as he started his first season.
It turns out the answer might have been at the academy for the past two years.
The Midshipmen (2-3), who take a three-game losing streak into Friday's visit to Albany (2-3), turned to Jordan Brickman to start at the point the past two games. The junior responded with a team-high 14 points in Tuesday's 57-55 loss to Tulane at Alumni Hall.
Brickman was recruited to Navy by former coach Billy Lange, who left in May to become an assistant coach at Villanova. But Brickman never played for the Mids, opting instead to invest his attention solely on school.
"During the whole recruitment process when I came for a visit, they showed me all the positives — it's just like a normal [school], you go to class and play basketball," Brickman said. "They told me it was going to be tougher than regular college, but then I got here and was just overwhelmed by the whole military [aspect]."
There were personal reasons for the choice as well. Brickman said his mother was diagnosed with cancer just before he departed his hometown of San Antonio for plebe summer.
His mother's health occupied his thoughts as his acclimation to the academy segued into the start of classes. The adjustment to taking orders about nearly every aspect of his day was difficult, but family reasons weighed heaviest when he informed his parents he wanted to transfer to a civilian school closer to home.
"My mom said she didn't want to be the reason why I leave the Naval Academy," Brickman said. "That would just give her so much guilt. They just convinced me to stay. But at that time, I'd already stopped going to the practices and was off the team. I just decided I was going to try to get through this place without playing basketball. It's already tough enough."
Brickman attended a couple of games the past two years at Alumni Hall but mostly got his fix playing a few times a week. When he went home, he would frequently play in pickup games.
Then this year, he figured it was time to see if he could play for the Mids. He'd matured since he arrived on the yard and had figured out how to manage his time. Brickman spoke with assistant Kurt Kanaskie and participated in individual workouts leading into the season.
With such limited experience on the roster, the 5-foot- 11 Brickman was a welcome addition. His minutes have grown each game, from a nine-minute stint in the Nov. 11 opener at Longwood to 31 minutes Tuesday.
Brickman's 14 points against Tulane were the most for a Navy player other than established starters J.J. Avila and Jordan Sugars this season. He also had only two turnovers against the Green Wave, a welcome development to a new coach who has stressed valuing possession.
"I'm just trying to get him to be more vocal," DeChellis said. "We brought him out of retirement, and he hasn't played in two years. He's like Kerry Collins with the Colts. He's done a good job. He's tried to come in and do the things we've asked him to do. He had a very nice game [Tuesday], and I think he can get better."
It will help when Brickman is actually in basketball shape. Without a regular practice schedule, Brickman engaged in an extensive weight-lifting program and was 203 pounds when he began his individual workouts.
He's down to 190 pounds, though he still hears a bit about his remaining bulk at practice. Of course, he's also a starting Division I point guard after a two-year layoff.
In some ways, neither of those developments should be much of a surprise.
"I've been playing basketball since I was little," Brickman said. "I knew I had it. I just had to bring it out."
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