NCAA women's tournament: Navy opens against DePaul
Before they left for University Park, Pa., to play in their first NCAA tournament, the Navy women's basketball players had plenty of free time. School was on spring break, and other than practice, there wasn't much to do.
So they went out in Annapolis, and everywhere they went someone recognized them and wished them luck.
"We were talking about it," senior center Cassie Consedine said. "Megan Matheny said, 'Man, that meant a lot.' For somebody to see you - you can see somebody and not say anything - but for them to make the gesture and actually say something really means a lot to us. These people, this community behind us, it just means a lot to us."
No. 14 seed Navy, which plays third-seeded DePaul on Saturday in the first round, has gained quite a following - a far cry from Consedine's freshman season when few people paid attention to the Midshipmen.
Back then, Navy wasn't a good team. The Midshipmen won only seven games and lost 23.
"I came here thinking this was a good team, they had good players, and we could do something," senior guard Angela Myers said. "Then I got here and we did so poorly. It was like, wow, what's going on?"
When Myers and Consedine arrived, no one seemed to care whether Navy won or lost. The Midshipmen had had one winning season in their previous eight. They hadn't finished better than fourth in the Patriot League and had won only once in the league tournament.
"When Cassie and I got here, it was a bad culture," Myers said. "People were used to losing."
Said Consedine: "Angela is the most competitive person I know. We hated losing. We would be so upset after games, like really mad. We don't want this. We don't want to be losing."
Myers said the thought of leaving the team never crossed her mind, but Consedine considered walking away.
"I really think having each other helped," Consedine said. "We were just like, 'Come on, man, make it through this.' We really pushed each other. It's going to get better. Angela is really positive. She sees the light at the end of the tunnel."
Navy changed coaches in 2008, bringing in Stefanie Pemper. She had taken Bowdoin to the Division III tournament in nine of her 10 seasons, including a national title game appearance in 2004. Pemper also had gone to the NCAA tournament three times while an assistant coach at Harvard.