ANNAPOLIS —- Perhaps the visual highlight of Navy’s 73-67 defeat of Penn last night was some sideline histrionics in the final minute.
Penn’s Jack Eggleston went to the foul line with 17.5 seconds left and Navy ahead 72-67. But as officials discussed the foul call, Navy coach Billy Lange got into a heated discussion from his bench with some of Penn’s assistant coaches.
Let’s put it this way: When there’s 1,808 people in the arena —- like last night at Alumni Hall —- just about everyone is going to be able to hear the details of any “heated discussion.”
“There was miscommunication from some people on the floor as to who was going to shoot that free throw,” Lange said. “Clearly, Penn put the right guy on the line. That’s the bottom line. They didn’t try to do anything different. But we were told that there was another player who was supposed to shoot those free throws. From that standpoint, you can understand why I would be anxious to talk to the referees where it’s supposed to be when you’re told two different things.”
Lange didn’t bring this point up, and it’s to his credit, but the obvious thing about the shouting match that was strange was that it was one team’s head coach and another team’s assistants. Usually, any sort of communication between opposing teams will be done by the head coaches alone (regardless of whether it’s civil or not).
In any case, Lange acknowledged it wasn’t his finest moment in his six years at Navy.
“I apologize for even acting like that,” Lange said. “I represent the Naval Academy and this is a class institution, so there’s a certain way a coach has to act. I take pride in the fact I believe I have done that 99.9 percent of my career here. We’ll continue to do that.”
—- Patrick Stevens