One trademark of a Don DeVoe team is a deep bench, a factor that allows the coach to substitute freely and keep players fresh in his pressure defense.
DeVoe, in his 11th year at Navy, employs such an intense style that an eight- or nine-man rotation is usually the minimum. He gave 10 players significant minutes last season, which is a primary reason why the Midshipmen could make a run at the Patriot League title again this season despite losing some key components.
DeVoe won’t have dynamic scorer Chris Williams back, but he will have a trio of heady guards (Demond Shepard, Jason Jeanpierre, Jehiel Lewis), a 3-point marksman (Kyle Barker) and a presence in the middle (Francis Ebong). The Mids are hoping Ebong, who scored 33 points in the team’s first exhibition game, draws enough of the defense to work DeVoe’s inside-out offense and open opportunities for Barker and the guards on the perimeter.
Defensively, the Mids won’t hesitate to press often in an effort to utilize their bench. They’ll play a pressure halfcourt defense, too.
DeVoe said he is most concerned about the Mids’ lack of starting experience and their ability to score points consistently. Lewis, who was reinstated Nov. 1 after a spring suspension for violating academy rules, and Barker are the leading returning scorers at 8.6 and 8.2 points, respectively. DeVoe said Barker has to emerge as a consistent scoring threat for Navy to be successful.
Top bench players will include guards Jeff Charles and Marcell Cummings, forwards Scott Long and Quintrell McCreary and center Mitch Moore, a group that includes four juniors but combined to average just 5.9 points last season.
“I feel we’re always going to be talented enough, but I’m concerned about the lack of experience,” DeVoe said. “We’re kind of throwing some guys into the fire.”
Navy was picked to finish second behind Holy Cross, last year’s champ, in a preseason Patriot League poll of coaches and sports information directors. Though they don’t have proven personnel, the Mids should have enough to make a run in the league.
“[No. 2 in the Patriot League] is a pretty good preseason pick,” Jeanpierre said. “We’ll have to prove our worth at the beginning.”