Army And Navy Basketball Set To Square Off Under The Big Lights In Madison Square Garden

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U.S. Military Academy photo

For the first time ever, the Army-Navy basketball matchup comes to Madison Square Garden in New York City on Jan. 23, and both teams are poised to make a serious run in the Patriot League.


While the basketball rivalry doesn’t normally get as much attention as its football counterpart, Army-Navy basketball has just as much passion. Reggie Miller, the former Indiana Pacer All Star who has called several Army-Navy games in the past, knows what it is like to play a rivalry game in the world’s most famous arena. The Pacers’ playoff games in 1990s and early 2000s against the Knicks with Spike Lee antagonizing Miller from his courtside seats were epic.

Miller told the Times Herald Record in 2012, “It’s basketball, but it’s the intense rivalry between the two schools. That’s what lured me into making this a long-lasting relationship where I can call all the Army-Navy games. It’s a wonderful tradition.’’ Miller won’t be calling the game this year, but he recognizes the special tradition these two institutions have formed.

Army (12-6) and Navy (14-5) both enter the game with competitive records and marquee basketball names from their pasts. But the two service academies have had different levels of success throughout their basketball history.

Related: This former Navy QB is setting himself up for a post-military NFL career.

Former Indiana University head coach and NCAA Hall of Famer Bob Knight began his coaching career at the U.S. Military Academy. During his tenure at West Point (1965-1971), Knight, nicknamed “the General” led the Black Knights to 102 victories. One of Knight’s former players recently passed him to become the all-time winningest coach in Division I history. Mike Krzyzewski, the current coach and basketball legend at Duke University, got his start as an Army assistant coach and a former Army player under Knight.

Unfortunately, neither The General nor Coach K could lead Army to something all college basketball teams strive to achieve: a berth in the NCAA tournament.

Army is one of only five NCAA teams never to land a spot in the tournament The four others: Northwestern, St. Francis Brooklyn, The Citadel, and William & Mary. With quality victories over Monmouth and the Air Force Academy, along with a seasoned team, Army is making a case for removing this dubious distinction.

The Black Knights have started five seniors the majority of the season (senior star Tanner Plomb recently fell victim to injury). The same group of five also started as freshmen four years ago. That type of continuity is almost unheard of in college basketball.

“All of us are best friends, we do everything together,” guard Kyle Wilson told West Point Athletics in a recent interview. “It’s been great to have a close group of guys to go through everything with. After our first couple of games at prep school, we could all feel a great chemistry between us.”

Now Army’s seniors are striving for more than just continuity.

“Making history in that regard is what we are focused on,” said Army forward Tanner Plomb at the aspect of earning a berth in the tournament.

Navy’s basketball history is much different than that of its rival. 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of Navy’s deepest run in the tournament, an Elite 8 appearance led by David Robinson, who went on to become an NBA legend and hall of famer. Navy has made a total of 11 tournament appearances, but the Midshipmen have struggled over the past few years and have not made an NCAA tournament appearance since 1998.

Steady improvement this year, along with three victories over Army in the 2014-2015 campaign have resurrected hopes in Annapolis. Navy is led by two outstanding sophomore stars: 6-foot, 4-inch guard Shawn Anderson and 6-foot, 6-inch forward Jace Hogan, along with a dominating inside presence from senior center Will Kelly. Kelly ranks in the top 10 in the NCAA this season in overall blocks with 55 total. Anderson and Hogan are averaging a combined 23 points per game to lead all Navy scorers.  

After rallying for a recent win against Patriot League foe Loyola University, head coach Ed DeChellis was excited about Navy’s potential:

"I don't think this team has reached its potential yet," said DeChellis. "I don't think we are clicking on all cylinders offensively yet. I think there is a lot of improvement that we can still make and that is what is exciting to me about this squad.”

The Midshipmen are currently tied for first place in the Patriot League with Bucknell.

Army and Navy both hope the outcome of Saturday’s matchup at The Garden helps lead to a spot in the tournament. A solid January would put both teams in strong contention for a run at the Patriot League title and preferred seeding in the conference tournament. A first place finish in the Patriot League Conference tournament guarantees an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament.

An aerial view of the Pentagon building in Washington, June 15, 2005. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the Guantanamo prison against critics who want it closed by saying U.S. taxpayers have a big financial stake in it and no other facility could replace it at a Pentagon briefing on Tuesday. (Reuters/Jason Reed JIR/CN)

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On Oct. 7, lawmakers subpoenaed information about military aid to Ukraine. Eight days later, a Pentagon official told them to pound sand in part because many of the documents requested are communications with the White House that are protected by executive privilege.

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The video opens innocently enough. A bell sounds as we gaze onto a U.S. Navy frigate, safely docked at port at Naval Base San Diego. A cadre of sailors, dressed in "crackerjack" style enlisted dress uniforms and hauling duffel bags over their shoulders, stride up a gangplank aboard the vessel. The officer on deck greets them with a blast of a boatswain's call. It could be the opening scene of a recruitment video for the greatest naval force on the planet.

Then the rhythmic clapping begins.

This is no recruitment video. It's 'In The Navy,' the legendary 1979 hit from disco queens The Village People, shot aboard the very real Knox-class USS Reasoner (FF-1063) frigate. And one of those five Navy sailors who strode up that gangplank during filming was Ronald Beck, at the time a legal yeoman and witness to one of the strangest collisions between the U.S. military and pop culture of the 20th century.

"They picked the ship and they picked us, I don't know why," Beck, who left the Navy in 1982, told Task & Purpose in a phone interview from his Texas home in October. "I was just lucky to be one of 'em picked."

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Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday casually brushed aside the disturbing news that, holy shit, MORE THAN 100 ISIS FIGHTERS HAVE ESCAPED FROM JAIL.

In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Esper essentially turned this fact into a positive, no doubt impressing public relations and political talking heads everywhere with some truly masterful spin.

"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."



Well, I feel better. How about you?

On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.

"We do not know where they are," James Jeffrey told members of Congress of the 100+ escaped detainees. ISIS has about 18,000 "members" left in Iraq and Syria, according to recent Pentagon estimates.

A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday the White House's understanding is that the SDF continues to keep the "vast majority" of ISIS fighters under "lock and key."

"It's obviously a fluid situation on the ground that we're monitoring closely," the official said, adding that released fighters will be "hunted down and recaptured." The official said it was Turkey's responsibility to do so.

President Trump expressed optimism on Wednesday about what was happening on the ground in northeast Syria, when he announced that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was expected to be made permanent.

"Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries," Trump said. "We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them — and now we're getting out."

The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."

Trump said that "small number of U.S. troops" would remain in Syria to protect oilfields.


Kade Kurita (U.S. Army photo(

Kade Kurita, the 20-year-old West Point cadet who had been missing since Friday evening, was found dead on Tuesday night, the U.S. Military Academy announced early Wednesday morning.

"We are grieving this loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cadet Kurita's family and friends," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of West Point, said in the release.

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