The Navy men's basketball team will take on Maryland in the fifth annual Veterans Classic Nov. 9, and Midshipmen head coach Ed DeChellis says he's looking forward to the matchup, which is scheduled to tip off at 8:30 p.m.
"We're excited as heck to have them," DeChellis said on
Glenn Clark Radio
Nov. 1. "It creates a lot of local interest and fan interest. But once the ball's tossed, we got our work cut out for us, for sure. They're a very talented team, very long team. Well-coached, so it'll be a big challenge for us."
Providence and Wichita State will play at 6 p.m. to fill out the four-team field in an event that has routinely attracted premier competition. The Terps will be the third Big Ten school to participate in the event, following Michigan State (2014) and Ohio State (2016).
Maryland traveled to Florida for the Emerald Classic last season and to New York for the Barclays Center Classic the year prior, but the team will stay closer to home for this event. DeChellis said he had spoken with Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon a few times about the possibility of participating, and Turgeon made it happen.
"I gotta really credit Coach Turgeon, he's the one that agreed to come," DeChellis said. "They have the opportunity to play in a lot of different tournaments around the country and he chose to bring Maryland to the Veterans Classic to help honor the veterans."
DeChellis said part of the reason for creating the Classic was to bring high-quality opponents to Annapolis, and he hasn't had a problem doing just that during the event's five years. His Midshipmen have played well in the event on occasion, losing a five-point decision to Michigan State and knocking off Pittsburgh last season. Meetings with Florida (2015) and Ohio State didn't go as well, but the DeChellis said his team is always ready for the challenge.
"We've played really well at times, and at times the speed and length and athleticism of some of the teams got the best of us," DeChellis said. "Our kids are gonna fight, and they're gonna be prepared."
Navy finished third in the Patriot League last season at with an 11-7 mark in the conference. The Midshipmen enter the 2018-19 season without two key players from last year due to the graduation of All-Patriot League First Team selection Shawn Anderson and Patriot League All-Defensive Team selection Bryce Dulin.
"We're trying to keep our culture to a winning culture," DeChellis said. "You start out 0-0, it really doesn't matter what you accomplished last season, everybody's 0-0 and starting the season over again but we try to be competitive in all our drills, we try to be competitive in all our scrimmages."
As it has been for most of his tenure, the focus for DeChellis' team will be rebounding, defense and taking care of the basketball. The coach said there may be some growing pains early as the team attempts to replace Anderson and Dulin, with much of the load falling on senior guard Hasan Abdullah (9.9 points per game last year) and senior forward George Kiernan (9.8).
The preseason Patriot League poll has Navy finishing eighth in the conference. DeChellis said that while he doesn't put too much stock in the ranking -- nor does he agree with it -- it can be a source of motivation for his team. The Midshipmen will look to silence the doubters against Old Dominion Nov. 6 before their meeting with Maryland.
"We just gotta go about doing our business," DeChellis said. "Sometimes players get a little excited, and that's fine, I want them to play on edge."
For more from DeChellis, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Phil Hoffmann/Navy Athletics