The Washington Times - March 30, 2009, 07:16PM

A Navy athletic department spokesman confirmed the school has granted Virginia Commonwealth permission to contact basketball coach Billy Lange.

Lange did not immediately return a message left on his cell phone.


VCU’s position opened when Anthony Grant left after three years to take over at Alabama.

VCU is, along with George Mason, one of the two best gigs in the CAA on a year-in, year-out basis. And while plenty of intriguing names have been thrown in the Richmond and national media for this job, it is quite telling that Lange would be in the picture.

He took over a Navy program bereft of much talent in 2004 and gradually got the Midshipmen better —- going 10-18, 10-18, 14-16, 16-14 and 19-11 in five seasons.

No, 69-77 isn’t a winning record. And it would have been nice if Navy could have escaped the first round of the Patriot League tournament once in that span (and with home games the last two years, no less).

Still, the Midshipmen continued to improve, they play a visually appealing style you won’t get from the other two Division I service academies, and they’ve done it for a young, energetic coach  who pretty clearly gets it.

And let’s not forget Lange’s previous stop: As an assistant coach at Villanova under Jay Wright, whose stock has gone up a bit in the last week. Being associated with a guy whose gone to a Final Four carries some cachet.

There’s no reason to pretend this is a VCU insider blog. Still, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported yesterday the school would like to have a coach in place by Thursday. So one way or another, Navy should know whether it will be trying to replace the coach who resuscitated its program within a few days.

—- Patrick Stevens