Harris likes new Navy launch site: 3-point line

November 29, 1990|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Evening Sun Staff

ANNAPOLIS -- Erik Harris has a single word for the start of his final basketball season at Navy. "Fun," he said. Small wonder.

For one thing, the 6-foot-1 point guard is under instructions from coach Pete Herrmann to fire a three-point shot whenever he is open.

For another, he has David Robinson's point guard, Doug Wojcik, as his coach.

"If we don't take the open three-pointer, Coach takes us out," Harris said as Navy (1-1) prepared for its game tomorrow against Jacksonville in the Mazda Gator Bowl Classic. Harris smiled. "I'm taking my share."

The results so far are mixed. The Middies trailed by as many as 40 points in their opening loss to Fordham, then came back to score 116 -- second only in academy history to the 1952 team's 126 against Western Maryland -- in Monday's 18-point win over Mount St. Mary's.

Five Navy players were in double figures, led by sophomore Michael Burd, who had 27 points on nine three-point shots, an academy record. The team made 20 of 30 three-point tries, both Navy records.

"We don't know the score half the time," Herrmann said in jest.

Only two things besides fatigue will prompt Herrmann to yank a player from a game. One is failure to apply defensive pressure; the other is failure to launch an open three-pointer.

"The last few years, I probably restricted the kids on offense," Herrmann said. "It's amazing how they've reacted. Being encouraged to shoot has built their confidence.

"The key to all this is defensive pressure. Offense is created from defensive pressure. To make it work, we need a lot of possessions by getting offensive rebounds, creating turnovers and limiting ours."

On the heels of 6-22 and 5-23 seasons, Herrmann was determined to try something different this year. His new system is based on conditioning, designed to make it possible for the Middies to apply constant pressure.

"He worked us much, much harder than in the past," Harris said. "We ran and ran starting the end of August and haven't stopped since."

The benefits are obvious. Late in the game against the Mount, Harris stole the ball and raced in for a layup, leaving his opponents standing at midcourt.

During the Olympic Festival last summer, Herrmann, with the blessing of fellow coach Dale Brown of Louisiana State, experimented with the system. He figured it might work with Navy's disciplined if not overly talented players.

"We worked them harder than ever before," Herrmann said. "We want to tire the other team, so that when fatigue becomes a factor we've got a chance to win."

Mount St. Mary's coach Jim Phelan told Herrmann that "my guys ran out of gas." Of course, Herrmann recognizes that "it's a long year" and that his runners could tire, too.

Harris, meanwhile, is having the time of his life. Navy's leading scorer last year with a 12.9 average, he is scoring at a 17.5 clip now. But Wojcik doesn't want him to become point-happy.

"We'd like to see him distribute more," said Wojcik, who was Robinson's chief feeder from 1985-87 and is now stationed here as a member of Herrmann's staff. "Rather than 19 points and six assists, a balance of 12 points, say, and 10 to 12 assists would be better."

Harris led the Colonial Athletic Association in assists last winter with 5.2 a game. He hasn't forgotten a point guard's main assignment.

The senior from Fort Washington has a couple of goals, including leading Navy "to the big show, the NCAAs, at all costs." Another is to be the best point guard in the CAA.

Harris didn't make the first or second team last season, and that still rankles.

NAVY SCHEDULE

4(

Nov. 24 -- Lost to Fordham, 103-84

Nov. 26 -- Beat Mt. St. Mary's, 116-98

Tomorrow -- at Gator Bowl (vs. Jacksonville), 7

Dec. 1 -- at Gator Bowl Tourney (vs. either Cleveland St. or Colorado St.), TBA

Dec. 5 -- at Towson State, 7:30

Dec. 7 -- at Penn, TBA

Dec. 9 -- at Hofstra, 3

Dec. 21 -- Team USA Verich, 7

Dec. 28 -- at Blue Angels Classic (vs. UNC-Charlotte), 6

Dec. 29 -- at Blue Angels Classic (vs. either Towson St. or Alabama), TBA

Jan. 2 -- Lafayette, 7

Jan. 5 -- East Carolina, 7

Jan. 7 -- UNC-Wilmington, 7

Jan. 12 -- at William & Mary, 7:30

Jan. 14 -- Loyola, 7

Jan. 16 -- Richmond, 7

Jan. 19 -- at George Mason, 8

Jan. 23 -- James Madison, 7

Jan. 26 -- at American, 2

Jan. 28 -- Delaware, 7

Feb. 2 -- at UNC-Wilmington, 7:30

Feb. 4 -- at East Carolina, 7

Feb. 9 -- William & Mary, 1:30

Feb. 11 -- American, 7

Feb. 13 -- at Richmond, TBA

Feb. 16 -- George Mason, 1:30

Feb. 19 -- at James Madison, 7:30

Feb. 23 -- Army, 3:30

March 2-4 -- at CAA Tournament, TBA

NAVY AT A GLANCE

Nickname: Midshipmen.

* Coach: Pete Herrmann (49-67, four years).

* Conference: Colonial Athletic Association.

* 1989-90 record: 5-23, 4-10 in CAA.

* Returnees: Erik Harris, 6-1, Sr., G (12.9 ppg, 5.2 apg); Eddie Reddick, 6-6, Sr., F (12.8 ppg, 8.2 rpg); Sam Cook, 6-8, Jr., C (9.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg); Nick Marusich, 6-9, Jr., C (6.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg); Chuck Robinson, 6-5, So., F (6.5 ppg); Michael Burd, 6-3, So., G (4.3 ppg); Corey Bell, 6-2, Jr., G; Mel Davis, 6-1, Sr., G; John Haase, 6-4, So., G; Ted Lambert, 6-4, Jr., G/F; Mark Manno, 6-0, So., G; Lance Reinhard, 6-3, So., G; James Sprungle, 6-4, So., G/F.

* Newcomers: Brad Cougher, 6-8, Fr., F; Pepper Day, 6-7, Fr., F; Victor Mickel, 6-3, Fr., G.

* Strengths: Experience. For once, Herrmann won't have to rely on freshmen. He has seven returning lettermen, plus seniors with experience for the first time since the David Robinson era.

* Weaknesses: Lack of quickness, as usual. More rebounding help, notably by Cook, is needed for Reddick.

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