Wednesday’s dead-tree edition included a look at Navy forward Worth Smith, who will be asked to shoulder plenty of responsibility as the Midshipmen try to avoid a rerun of last season’s 3-26 struggles.
Or, as Smith put it, “We’re going to make it better. We’re not going to go through that again.”
Navy surely hopes not. Here’s 10 quick hits (some borrowed from the dead-tree edition graphic) to catch up on the Mids’ offseason:
1. Navy struggled last year to find point guard options beyond Jordan Brickman, who had sat out the previous two seasons. Coach Ed DeChellis said newcomers Tilman Dunbar and Nate Snodgrass will immediately vie for playing time.
“We feel like both of those kids give us a stability back there,” he said.
Dunbar is a local product who played at Paul VI. Snodgrass graduated from Butler High School in the Pittsburgh area and drew some attention from Duquesne.
2. Other returning point guard options include senior Jordan Brickman and reserve Brennan Wyatt. Brickman started for much of last season after choosing not to play during his first two seasons at the academy. It stands to reason a full year of basketball activity will provide a boost to Brickman in his senior year.
3. By nearly 600 minutes, junior guard Isaiah Roberts is Navy’s most experienced returning player.
He’s also among the Mids’ most important players heading into 2012-13.
“He needs to have a good year for us,” DeChellis said. “I thought he played the last month of the season pretty well and scored the ball. He’s a big guard, a strong kid who has a good mid-range game. He equates everything with scoring the ball. I’m trying to get him to understand it’s important to get points, but he could be an unbelievable on-ball defender. He’s strong, pretty good athleticism and I think he can be a guy who can guard the best player and he needs to take that challenge on. I think he could be an unbelievable defensive rebounder, and that’s something I’m trying to get him to understand.”
4. At 7.1 points per game, Roberts is Navy’s top returning scorer. It is the first time since 2005-06 that the Mids have not returned a player who averaged at least 14 points the previous season.
5. What was it like to go through a 3-26 season? About what you’d expect.
“It was very disappointing and depressing,” forward Worth Smith said. “We kept our spirits up and kept pushing each other in practice. During games, we always knew we could win. Toward the end, we never made those plays to get us a win or the other team would make a play and we wouldn’t respond.”
6. Smith said he’s working at the two interior spots and trying to make himself versatile enough to be used at small forward as well. He smiled at the mention of the latter position.
“I like the three,” Smith said. “I know I have to do some work on it.”
He’s working on other things as well. Smith listed the consistency of his jump shot, dribbling and getting past people into the lane as areas he’s trying to improve this offseason.
7. Navy’s season opener is Nov. 9 against Division III Marymount. It is the third straight season the Mids’ home opener is against a non-Division I team (Neumann in 2010 and Penn State-Altoona in 2011 were the others.
It will be the first meeting between the schools.
8. Navy will visit Tulane, returning a game from November. The Mids will also play host to Albany and Siena after visiting those teams last season. Navy is also in the South Padre Invitational, an exempt event that also features Fairleigh Dickinson, Delaware State, Illinois State, Northwestern, Prairie View A&M, Texas Christian and UAB.
9. On three occasions during nonconference play last season, Navy played two games in three days.
Don’t look for that to happen again this season.
“The schedule is a little more realistic,” DeChellis said. “It’s spaced out a little better where we can prepare. We’re not one day preparations, playing, one day preparations, playing. We have good balance that way where we have a couple days to prepare for each game.”
10. Both DeChellis and Smith mentioned 6-foot-10 center Jared Smoot as a significantly improved holdover.
“He’s a young guy who works really hard and wants to do well,” DeChellis said. “Some days it clicks for him and some days he had a hard time getting it to click. I think that’s part of the growing up process and part of the plebe year as well.”
Smoot, who didn’t begin playing basketball until seventh grade, averaged 0.8 points and 1.7 rebounds in 18 games as a freshman.
DeChellis said guard Thurgood Wynn also had a solid spring. Wynn averaged 4.2 points and 1.3 rebounds in 24 games.
“He’s an athletic guy who can score the ball,” DeChellis said. “He’s a guy we’re trying to get when we get him back here to embrace being a great on-ball defender. He’s long and lanky and athletic enough to affect the game in other ways.”
—- Patrick Stevens