Maryland and Navy enter Friday night’s showdown at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis on vastly differing paths. The Terps are 7-1 and ranked No. 4 in The Sun, while the host Midshipmen are 3-7 and have not won since March 9.
But Maryland coach John Tillman did not hide his concern for Navy. Tillman, who was an assistant coach for the Midshipmen for 12 years before departing after the 2007 season to take the reins at Harvard, said the coaches have reminded the players about Navy’s 8-2 upset of then-No. 9 Johns Hopkins on April 21.
“One of the first things that we talked about was their win over Hopkins last year,” Tillman said during his weekly conference call Tuesday. “We talked about how Hopkins went into the game having a good year, yet Navy played their best game and was very inspired. They played hard and got a big win against a rival. That was late in the year for them. So that’s something that we’ve got to realize who we’re going up against. These kids are taught to fight until the end, and these guys are wired to make sure that they give maximum effort. There is no quit in these guys. If you think any Midshipman is going to roll over, you don’t understand what those kids are taught there.”
Upsets are becoming commonplace in Division I. Last weekend alone, St. John’s upended then-No. 1 Notre Dame, No. 17 Penn State surprised No. 6 Bucknell, No. 15 Loyola knocked off No. 8 Ohio State, No. 18 Yale defeated No. 9 Penn, Army shocked No. 16 Colgate, and Towson beat No. 19 Hofstra.
Tillman said the topsy-turvy nature of the sport has forced the coaches to spend time discussing the significance of remaining focused.
“We talk every weekend about some of the results,” he said. “I think the kids know, but like anything else, they’re 18-to-22 year olds. … We constantly have to reinforce those things and [say], ‘Hey, guys, the hungry dog hunts best.’ The team that has a little bit more fight, that has a little bit more desire, and that wants it a little bit more can certainly turn the tables. … Having been on the other side, I know that this is a game that the players on the other side look forward to. It’s a game they’re excited about. We’ve got to be excited and ready on our end.”Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times