Each Navy basketball loss added to the frustration of Mark Majick and Derrick Wall, two former high school stars who did their best to offer each other support while enduring a 6-22 season.
"Derrick and I talked a lot, along with the other plebes," Majick said yesterday from his home in Cortland, Ohio. "We all were coming out of winning programs, and it was just tough to lose that many games."
Losing was so tough that Majick and Wall, both starters who earned spots on the Patriot League all-rookie team, have opted not to return for their sophomore years. Majick, a 6-foot-4 guard whose nine three-pointers last season ranks third in school history, has enrolled at Morehead State in Kentucky. Wall, a 6-foot-6 forward who was the team's rebound leader (5.9 per game) will decide next week between James Madison, William & Mary and Wake Forest. Both will be eligible to play in the 1993-94 season.
The departure of Majick and Wall is a blow to Navy, which hired Don DeVoe in April in hopes of turning the program around. The academy hasn't had a winning season since 1986-87, when David Robinson led the team to a 26-6 record.
DeVoe, who was on a recruiting trip in Chicago yesterday and could not be reached for comment, spoke to both players before they made their decisions.
"He thought I should give it another year," said Wall, who was a first-team all-state player at Northern High School in Durham, N.C. "He felt he could change the program around and said that since I was no longer a plebe that things would be different."
But neither found his niche at the academy, where the demands can be greater than at a traditional college or university.
"With the military, the academics and the athletics, I couldn't concentrate on all three," Majick said. "I wanted to do well in all areas. I think I did decently in basketball, but my academics suffered a little bit. Plus, I just wasn't happy there."
While Majick was attracted to Navy by the coaching staff, Wall wanted a career in engineering.
"When I got there I didn't feel, with the hectic schedule and other demands, that I would be able to do it," Wall said. "I gave it a year, and it wasn't what I wanted to do. I just thought it would be best to try something else."
Both said they felt the pressure of losing on a young team that relied heavily on their contributions. The Midshipmen won just one game in the Patriot League, and lost their last eight, including an 18-point defeat to Fordham in the first-round of the league tournament.
"The losing was the real frustrating part," said Majick, who was a second team all-Ohio pick after averaging 21 points for Liberty High School in Youngstown. "It's always hard to play Division I when you only have one senior and one junior like we did."