Navy plans to go on the offensive to shoot for a few extra points THE STATE OF BASKETBALL 1993-1994 PREVIEW

November 25, 1993|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

A highly successful coach at Virginia Tech and Tennessee, Don DeVoe had serious questions about his career decision after his first month as Navy's basketball mentor last season.

"We started out 0-5, and I began wondering if I'd ever get another win," said DeVoe, who finished 8-19 in his first season in Annapolis.

"But the reality of the situation is that when you take over a program that has had only single-digit wins the previous four years, you can't turn things around overnight."

But DeVoe appears far more upbeat about his second season at the academy. Despite playing loose defense in exhibition losses against Court Authority and the Vienna (Austria) Basket Flyers, two club teams with former college stars, the Midshipmen showed an ability to score from all areas of the court.

This was hardly the case last season, when the Mids averaged only 63.6 points and 41 percent shooting, with most of the players, save for free spirit Chuck Robinson, reluctant to shoot.

"I've always taken a lot of pride in teaching defense, but now I'm putting more stress on the offense and controlling the tempo," DeVoe said. "I think we'll definitely score better this season, somewhere in the 70- to 80-point range."

DeVoe's optimism is based primarily on the improved play of junior center Larry Green, who scored 32 points and grabbed 15 rebounds against the Austrians on Sunday, and the promise of freshman guards Scott Holden and Brian Walker.

"Green has really developed," DeVoe said. "He's running the floor on the break, crashing the boards and finding ways to score. He's really coming into his own."

Holden, from Wildwood (N.J.) High, could quickly force himself into the starting lineup off his strong showing in the preseason. The slender guard is capable of playing both backcourt positions and running the offense.

Walker, who has been slowed by leg problems, is "a little dynamo" in the eyes of DeVoe. The 5-foot-8 Indiana native has the ability to turn up the offense another gear in the style of a Muggsy Bogues.

"From what I hear, that's something Navy has lacked for a long, long time," the coach said.

Solid veterans in forwards Wes Cooper and James Norris and principal outside threat Jim Hamilton will allow DeVoe more maneuverability.

"We can go at least eight players deep this season without experiencing a big drop-off in talent," he said.

Captain Victor Mickel returns as DeVoe's defensive stopper, consistently drawing the top scoring guard on rival teams.

"We're definitely improved this season," Mickel said. "It's been rough absorbing all these beatings the past three years, but Coach DeVoe has given us a much more businesslike approach. The biggest difference is in our work ethic and attitude."

The Mids open the regular season Saturday against Air Force, their first meeting with their service-academy rivals since 1985.

Navy was 5-9 in the Patriot League last season.

"We'll be better than that," DeVoe said.

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