Home sweet home. Navy's basketball team, seeking its most victories since 1960, will play its final four games at Halsey Field House, starting tonight against American U. at 7:15.
Navy is 9-0 at home, but only 11-9 overall. Of the remaining Mid opponents, AU's 11-11 record is the worst. Navy teams twice have won the 13 games since the 1959-60 squad went 16-6 and earned an NIT bid. Following AU, Navy faces 11-9 Manhattan, 15-6 Army and 11-10 St. Francis (N.Y.).
In other games tonight involving major area teams, George Washington travels to Rutgers for an 8 p.m. Eastern Eight contest and Virginia seeks its first Atlanta Coast Conference victory, at Clemson at 8.
Navy's resurgence has occurred under first-year coach Bob Hamilton, who is dismayed by a current two-game losing streak: "We have to regain our consistency and our intensity it we want to be in our final four games," He said. Said AU coach Jim Lynam:
"This game will probably have a lot to say whether we'll be .500 or not this season."
The Eagles also have four games remaining, including an East Coast Conference test at 16-6 Hofstra. AU can make the conference playoofs by upsetting Hofstra.
In the ECC East Division, said Lynam, "six teams play five games for three playoff spots. It's like a computer nightmare."
The play of 6-foot-5 freshman forward Leon Kearney is alleviating many nightmares Lynam has had about his team. The AU coach gave the Plainfield, N.J., player his first start Saturday, and Kearney contributed 16 points and nine rebounds against St. Francis (Pa.). Kearney will start again tonight.
"His biggest attribute is that he's a good all-around player," Lynam said."In the past, we could put somebody in there who could be a specialist. Kearney can score and rebound and he's a good defensive player."