2008-09 Basketball Game Preview: Navy

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Virginia Tech will be on upset alert tonight when they take on the Navy Midshipmen in the BB&T Classic in Washington, DC. The Hokies are coming off a tough loss to Wisconsin, and they’ll be facing a Navy team that is off to their best start since 1983.

Navy is 7-1 on the season. They are a dangerous basketball team, and they even received a vote in the latest AP Poll that was released this past week. In the past, the Hokies have had a tendency to slip up against teams like this in the out-of-conference portion of their schedule.

While Navy has a good record, their level of competition has been very questionable. The Midshipmen lost to Towson 86-68 in their first game of the season. Since then, they’ve won seven games in a row against Howard, St. Francis (NY), William & Mary, Maryland Eastern Shore, Radford, Texas-San Antonio and Penn.

Navy’s closest games came against William & Mary and Radford. The Midshipmen beat William & Mary 102-99, and managed to knock off Radford 73-71 in overtime. So while their record proves that this team is dangerous, the Hokies should be able to handle them if they play as well as they are capable of playing.

Navy doesn’t have a big lineup. They start four guards, and as you would expect from a military school, they play very disciplined basketball and good defense.

Their top player is senior guard Kaleo Kina (6-4, 200, Sr.). Kina is averaging a team-high 20.5 points per game. He is also second on the team in rebounding with 5.6 per game. Over his last three games, Kina has scored 30, 29 and 28 points while shooting 26-of-48 from the field.

Kina isn’t a big time three-point shooter. He’s only shooting 28.6% from three-point range this year. However, he does get to the basket and draw fouls. He has attempted 59 free throw attempts this year, which is 11th nationally. Kina has gone to the line 42 times over the last three games. Overall, he’s a 74.6% free throw shooter.

Another dangerous player is junior guard Chris Harris (6-2, 185, Jr.). Harris is averaging 16.5 points per game, and is one of Navy’s most dangerous outside shooters. For the season, he is 26-of-76 from three-point range, a mark of 34.2%. He is attempting nearly 10 three-pointers per game. 26 of his 36 made field goals have come from behind the arc.

Navy’s most dangerous three-point sniper is forward Adam Teague (6-8, 225, Sr.). Teague is a team captain who sometimes starts and sometimes comes off the bench. He is averaging 10.9 points and five rebounds per game this year. From three-point range, he is 20-of-41, good for 48.8%.

Though they do play with a small lineup, Navy does have some size on the inside. The starting center is Mark Veazey (6-11, 230, So.). Veazey is taller than any player in the Virginia Tech rotation. He’s averaging 8.4 points and a team-high 6.9 rebounds per game.

Despite their lack of size, Navy still averages nearly four more rebounds per game than their opponents. Four Midshipmen average at least five rebounds per game, and a fifth player averages four boards per game.

As you might expect, Navy locks in on the defensive side of the ball. Opponents are shooting just 39.7% on the Midshipmen this year, though obviously they haven’t faced a team nearly as talented as Virginia Tech.

These names will probably be familiar to you: Richmond, VMI, Western Michigan, Marshall and Bowling Green. Those are all teams that the Hokies have lost to in the past few years in the out-of-conference portion of their schedule that should have been wins for Tech. Navy is similar. They aren’t a big name team, but they are dangerous. The Hokies will have to be ready to play.

Tip-off is today at 5pm, and the game will be televised by MASN.

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