ANNAPOLIS -- The record is impressive, and there still is Army to play at home tomorrow, but what really excites members of this season's women's basketball team at the Naval Academy is thinking about next season.
That's when the program moves from Division II to Division I as a member of the Patriot League. To make the transition easier, second-year coach Jerry Hutchison will lose only one senior.
"We're focused on what we're doing now -- practices and games -- and better teams are forcing us to play better, but other times we're already talking about it -- serious," says Angie Dobbs, a junior from Perry Hall and the team's scoring leader.
It has meant a transition period for the team and Hutchison. There are more Division I teams on the schedule this season, and there has had to be a higher level of recruiting. It is reflected in this season's team, where there are nine new players, and in future teams, with five solid players coming in next season.
Last season, many of the games were on the road, and Hutchison was adjusting to coaching within the structure of a service academy. There wasn't much depth, either, and he was forced to go with a basic seven players. Still, the talent was good enough for a 16-8 record.
"We have a different team this year, and I changed my defensive scheme, so we go up-tempo both ways," said Hutchinson, whose team is 15-7 with two games remaining. "We also have made the three-point shot a big part of our offense, and the players know they can take it if it's there. And we can go 9-10-11 deep."
Navy has been a Division II team since the program started in 1977.
Dobbs had a year at the Navy Prep School after high school graduation, and with no women's team, could do little more than practice with the men's team.
Another veteran is sophomore Heather Brand, who received a baptism of fire last year when, straight out of high school in Richmond, Va., an injury to a regular put her in the starting lineup in the season opener.