Home court little edge for Navy in Patriot final

March 10, 1994|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun Staff Writer

A pair of six-game winning streaks. The best two overall records in the league and identical 9-5 conference marks during the regular season.

Those are the similar credentials Navy and Colgate will bring into the Patriot League championship game tomorrow evening.

So, if there is an edge, it should go to the top-seeded Midshipmen, who will be playing on their home court, Alumni Hall.

But, Navy coach Don DeVoe said yesterday: "I don't know if that's an advantage or not. We haven't beaten them here since I've been the head coach."

That spans only two seasons, but the Red Raiders are 3-0 in this building this season, counting the tournament conquests of Lehigh and Lafayette last weekend, and 2-0 against DeVoe in Annapolis.

No wonder Colgate coach Jack Bruen doesn't mind playing at Annapolis instead of at home in Hamilton, N.Y.

"When you get away from Hamilton, it's a treat," he said last week. "There's 50 inches of snow up there. We love going on the road."

DeVoe reconvened his team Tuesday evening for practice after allowing them a 2 1/2 -day hiatus for spring break.

Some of the players scattered around the country. Others stayednear school.

The coach said he has not "talked to them about the NCAAs. They know what's at stake. It's just so rewarding to see them playing for a championship. Six weeks ago, we were struggling to make some sense of the season."

Navy has not made the NCAA tournament since David Robinson was a senior in 1987. During the six seasons after his departure leading into this season, the Midshipmen were a collective 45-123 and failed to win a conference tournament game.

They almost didn't get here, trailing Holy Cross by 14 at halftime Saturday before rallying to win in overtime.

For the first time in his 21-year career, DeVoe had his team running through play sequences at the halftime break, and it responded.

"I was pretty direct, even a little stern with them," he said. "I wasn't pleased because we were making too many unforced errors and we weren't moving the ball well.

"Never had I done that. But they picked up the defensive intensity and everything worked out."

DeVoe is not sure who will patrol Colgate's big gun, guard Tucker Neale (26.7 ppg).

The chore would have gone to senior Vic Mickel, but he has been placed on suspension by an academy administrative action.

"Vic would have played a key role with his experience and athleticism," said DeVoe. "We have to do a lot of things to compensate for his absence because he was always on the other team's big scorer.

"Right now, there is no one designated for Neale."

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