Navy Men’s Basketball HC Ed DeChellis: Tough Ending Last Year Serves As Motivation

After a tough ending to the 2020-21 season, Navy’s men’s basketball coach Ed DeChellis is looking to capture the Patriot League championship this year … and the season got off to a good start Nov. 9.

DeChellis has been the Mids’ head coach since 2011. Before his arrival at the Naval Academy, DeChellis was the head coach for his alma mater Penn State (2003-2011), where he had an overall record of 114-138. Prior to that, DeChellis was the head coach at East Tennessee State (1996-2003), posting an overall record of 105-93.

Coming into the 2021-22 season, the Mids were ranked third in the Patriot League preseason poll after a 15-3 overall finish during the shortened pandemic season. However, the Mids caught a bad break in the Patriot League tournament, and they lost to Loyola, 76-68, in their first game of the tournament.

Navy has not earned the Patriot League’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament since 1997-98.

“We had the contact tracing hit us for our first-round game and had three guys out,” DeChellis said on Glenn Clark Radio Oct. 29, prior to the beginning of the 2021-22 season. “That was the bitter part.”

The Mids returned several starters from last year’s team in John Carter Jr., Greg Summers, Tyler Nelson and Richard Njoku. DeChellis mentioned that the graduation of point guard Cam Davis and preseason injuries at the guard spot created a tough challenge for the team, with the Mids needing to figure out the point guard position prior to the season opener

Navy defeated No. 25 Virginia, 66-58, on Nov. 9 to open the season, which marked the first time the Mids defeated a ranked team since 1986. Junior Sean Yoder started at point guard. He was 6-for-7 from the floor, including 3-for-3 from beyond the arc, and had six rebounds and two steals. Yoder finished the game with 15 points.

Carter also stepped up. The senior was 7-for-16 from the floor (5-for-8 from beyond the arc) and added five rebounds. Carter finished the game as the Mids’ leading scorer with 19 points. DeChellis credited Carter’s preparation before the season for putting him in a position to lead the team. DeChellis also believes the Mids will rely on Carter’s experience throughout the season.

“I think John Carter’s had a really good fall, our senior. Has shot the ball well, has been better defensively,” DeChellis said. “I think there are some guys that are ready for a good year.”

Navy has a tough start of the season ahead of them. The Mids have 10 more nonconference games, including ACC opponent Virginia Tech in the Veterans Classic Nov. 12, before beginning Patriot League play. Navy’s first conference game will come against Holy Cross Jan. 1.

DeChellis explained that the way the Mids finished the season last year will serve as motivation to compete atop the Patriot League this season.

“We use where we were last year as a positive but also it’s a negative. We didn’t finish the job,” DeChellis said. “We didn’t get to the NCAA Tournament, that sort of sticks in our belly somewhat, especially with our seniors. This is their last go-around.”

Looking ahead, DeChellis hopes that losing their best player from the 2020-21 season won’t steer the Mids in the wrong direction. However, with the tough schedule ahead, DeChellis explains that the team will write its own story, no matter what comes its way.

“You’ve got to make your own breaks,” DeChellis said. “You have to get your own stuff done. You control your own destiny.”

For more from DeChellis, listen to the full interview here:

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Navy Athletics