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Area college basketball preview 2011-12: Navy

By — Gene Wang,

Players to watch

Senior G Jordan Sugars was named preseason first-team all-Patriot League after leading the Midshipmen in scoring (16 points per game) and rebounding (six per game) last season. Sophomore F J.J. Avila was Navy’s second-leading scorer (11.5). At 6 feet 10, freshman C Jared Smoot is one of the more athletic big men on the team.

Three story lines

New coach: Ed DeChellis begins his first year as coach after unexpectedly leaving Penn State at the conclusion of last season. DeChellis is the sixth coach since 1995 to leave a BCS school for a mid-major program.

Switch in philosophy: The emphasis will be on defense, rebounding and ball security rather than three-point shooting. Last season, Navy attempted 803 shots from beyond the arc, the second-most in school history.

Youth in numbers: Navy has just three seniors while the rest of the team comprises sophomores and freshmen. The total number of games played among the returnees is 306, including 87 by Sugars.

Outlook

If nothing else, Navy will be more disciplined this season at least in shot selection. The Midshipmen shot 39.3 percent, the team’s lowest total since 1953-54, and made just 29.4 from three-point range, the worst mark in school history. The team will be a work in progress until players become fully comfortable with DeChellis’s system.

— Gene Wang

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