Succeeding a coach who just went 30-5 may sound like a difficult assignment, but Pete Herrmann says he is embarking on the journey with no trepidation.
"No, no fears really," Herrmann said at a news conference held today to introduce him as the Naval Academy's basketball coach. "I've been at every level, including junior high, and now I'm to the point where I've hit a goal. I'm so proud to be the head coach here."
Herrmann was given the job Wednesday afternoon, one week after Paul Evans departed to take the head coaching job at Pittsburgh. Dayton Coach Don Donoher was the only other candidate for the spot, but he withdrew from consideration Wednesday afternoon.
Herrmann was Evans' top assistant for the six seasons he was here and had received Evans' endorsement.
"I'd been loyal to Navy, and they've been very loyal to me," said Herrmann. He said he did not have any great concern about following Evans, who led Navy to the final of the NCAA East regional, finishing his academy career with a 119-60 mark.
"Paul got me ready to be a head coach in all phases of the game," Herrmann said. "He has brought me into the role of head coach on the floor, in planning and even league meetings."
Evans, Herrmann said, brought the Midshipmen to the point that "winning is a habit." He said he would follow the system Evans installed, which has been centered around 6-foot-11 all-America David Robinson, who will be back for his last season.
"Our primary concern is to run and to get the ball inside," Herrmann said of his team's style.
"It's a nice feeling knowing he's there," Herrmann said of Robinson. "David is a great, great example of the Naval Academy in the way he is as a person. His goals are to be the outstanding player in the country and a consensus first-team all-America. I'm looking forward to him being a strong leader."
"He'll add his touch," Robinson said of Herrmann. "A lot could change as far as where the scoring's going to come from. But I still expect to go inside and probably use more motion."
Robinson still will be counted on to get at least the 22.7 points a game he averaged this year, but there will have to be adjustments, since Kylor Whitaker and all-time leading scorer Vernon Butler are graduating.
"For two years, we've won a lot of games ," said sophomore Cliff Rees, who will need to pick up some of the outside scoring load now that Whitaker (13.0 points per game) has left. "Nobody wants to lose, and I just kind of assume we'll win a bunch of games."
Derric Turner (6-6, 195 pounds) will be a sophomore and will need to fill some of the gap left by Butler, and Rees said he thinks he can get 12 points a game.
Herrmann worked very closely with Evans but said, "I'm my own man.
Herrmann is already thinking about what he will do when Robinson, whom he called a "once-in-10-years kind of player" graduates next year.
"We've got some good recruits coming in during the next couple weeks," Herrmann said. "The [NCAA] exposure helped us, but the next couple weeks will tell whether it's a success. Naturally, we're striving to get someone to replace him. It's a prime concern."
Robinson, who has a five-year U.S. Navy commitment after graduation, said today he has not had a chance to see if there is any way he could be released from that obligation and play in the NBA. If there were avenues, would he take advantage of them?
"Oh, yeah," he said. "Oh, yeah."