Normally, it is not a surprise when a team has five sophomores who return for their junior seasons. At Navy, however, it is a big deal: Those who stay past their sophomore years must commit five years after graduation to military service. They could have left this summer and not owed the Navy a thing.
"Yes and no," Coach Joe Sanchez said when asked if he was surprised the sophomores came back. "We've been working on quite a good chemistry for the past two seasons. These kids have grown up together. . . . We knew at the beginning of last year that this could be a very special class. They are very, very competitive."
The leader of the class is Courtney Davidson, a 5-foot-10 guard. She led the Midshipmen in scoring (17.7 ppg), field goals made (146), three-point field goals made (64), free throws made (122) and ranked second in rebounds (136), assists (59) and steals (42). She also maintained a 4.0 grade-point average both semesters last year.
Junior guard Maile Shimoda is the only player in Navy's 26-season history to have more than 100 assists in consecutive seasons. She also led the team with 1,002 minutes played. The other members of the class are guard Alison Luchsinger, forwards Bryanna Herring (Wilde Lake) and Kate Maslowski and center Adrienne Roseti.
The junior class combined to average 58 of the team's 66 points last season.
The Midshipmen have a strong freshman class, led by center Hannah Davis and guard Ashley Pelzek. Davis also was recruited by Old Dominion and Cincinnati and Pelzek was one of the top players in Massachusetts.
"We feel we have a very good product," Sanchez said. "And we will for this year and at least next year as well."
-- Christian Swezey