- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A half-dozen thoughts on American’s 69-47 deconstruction of Navy on Wednesday at Bender Arena. …

1. Feel-good game for American. Coach Jeff Jones‘ team seemed like it was in solid shape to collect the No. 2 seed in the Patriot League. Then it stumbled at Holy Cross on Saturday.

It could prove an instructive loss on several levels. One thing it didn’t do was linger long.

American (17-9, 8-3 Patriot) scored the first 10 points, owned a 36-12 edge at halftime and led by as many as 31.

For as much as Jones talks about the Eagles’ narrow margin of error, it didn’t matter much. Of course, American’s willingness to play hard and dispatch the Mids rapidly bodes well for how it goes about the final week and a half of the regular season.

2. Skidding Mids. Navy has lost a school-record 18 in a row. Only rarely has it been quite as uncompetitive as it was against the Eagles.

Navy (3-22, 0-11) trailed by double digits for the final 32-plus minutes of the rout and got a player into double digits only when Thurgood Wynn collected a fastbreak layup in the final minute.

The Mids struggled with forward J.J. Avila in the lineup, but at least he usually played well and provided matchup problems. Avila was suspended at the start of the month, and the Mids have not scored more than 52 points in regulation in the four games since.

3. Wroblicky rises. Eagles center Tony Wroblicky collected his second double-double in seven days, scoring 13 points and hauling in 12 rebounds against the undersized Mids.

It was true when American beat Lehigh last week, and it remains true against a more limited foe: The 6-foot-10 sophomore can change the way the Eagles play if he’s enjoying a solid day, providing the sort of post presence capable of opening opportunities on the perimeter

That was a bit easier against Navy, which didn’t have a starter taller than 6-foot-6. Jones said he measured Wroblicky’s effectiveness as much by his activity as anything else. He certainly fulfilled those responsibilities, collecting nearly a quarter of the game’s rebounds (12 of 49) while playing only 21 minutes.

4. Hinkle rebounds. American forward Charles Hinkle endured a 4-for-18 shooting day Saturday. There would be no encore.

The senior made 3-pointers on the Eagles’ first two possessions, didn’t miss a shot from the floor en route to outscoring Navy by himself in the first half (16-12) and wound up with 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting.

Hinkle matched his season-low with nine field goal attempts and wound up with his best field goal percentage of the season.

5. Some stability. It hardly went well, but Navy did something unusual for this season: It stuck with the same lineup for consecutive games.

Guards Brennan Wyatt, Isaiah Roberts and Jordan Sugars and forwards Worth Smith and James Loupos all got the nod (and all played at least 19 minutes) in the loss. It was the first time since a four-game stretch between Nov. 30 and Dec. 10 – the start of the Mids’ losing streak – that coach Ed DeChellis used the same lineup in consecutive games.

Overall, Navy has used 14 starting lineups in 25 games this season.

6. Tournament implications. American remained in second place in the Patriot League with the victory, nosing a half-game ahead of Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks face league leader Bucknell on Thursday.

Navy remains locked into finishing either seventh or eighth. The Mids are mathematically incapable of even sharing sixth place with Army, but remain only a game behind Colgate for seventh place.