Navy not focusing on its 22-game skid

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Sports,College,Kevin Dunleavy

Navy looking forward, not at its ugly 2011-12

Entering the season with a 22-game losing streak, the Navy men's basketball team is anxious to shake one ignominious distinction. Making that tougher to accomplish is the roster of the Midshipmen. With no seniors among its 18 players, Navy is the youngest team in the nation.

"I don't talk about it," Navy second-year coach Ed DeChellis said. "It's a different team. Every year it's different guys. We're focused on trying to be the best team we can be, not looking back. We're moving forward."

DeChellis compared Navy to a car without a rearview mirror. But there will be many reminders of the past if the Mids don't quickly dissolve the skid. There will be early opportunities with November home games against Division III Marymount (6-19), Siena (14-17) and Binghamton (2-29).

Navy (3-26) wasn't nearly as bad as its record indicated. Half of its losses were by single digits. Two were in overtime. The Mids played hard for DeChellis in his first year coming over from Penn State, but they never found the finishing touch. Part of the problem was the lack of a go-to scorer.

Sophomore Worth Smith, a 6-foot-6 forward who averaged 6.8 points and 5.0 rebounds last year, appears the top candidate for the job, especially following the departure of top scorer, rebounder, shot-blocker and assist man J.J. Avila, who left the academy for unspecified reasons in February.

Also back is starting point guard Isaiah Roberts, a 6-1 junior who averaged 7.1 points and 1.9 assists.

Several newcomers are likely to contribute, including 6-9 Will Kelly and a trio of locals -- 6-5 Phil Guglielmo (St. Stephen's & St. Agnes), 6-3 Richard Kuzma (Thomas Jefferson) and 5-10 Tilman Dunbar (Paul VI).

"I think the new kids have picked up things pretty quickly," DeChellis said. "I think the big kid, Will Kelly, really runs the floor well, blocks shots, rebounds and is very cerebral as well."

While DeChellis is figuring out his rotation, the Mids aren't looking back.

"There's definitely a fresh feeling," Smith said. "We have to pick our heads up and keep moving. We can't look at the past."

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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