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Army And Navy Basketball Set To Square Off Under The Big Lights In Madison Square Garden
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.
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.
‘We constantly have them on our minds’ — A little-known agency searches all over for the remains of MIA service members
The 80-minute ride each day to the site in Lang Son Province, Vietnam, through mostly unspoiled forestland and fields, reminded Air Force Master Sgt. Aliah Reyes a little of her hometown back in Maine.
The Eliot native recently returned from a 45-day mission to the Southeast Asian country, where she was part of a team conducting a search for a Vietnam War service member who went missing more than 45 years ago and is presumed dead.
Reyes, 38, enlisted in the Air Force out of high school and has spent more than half her life in military service. But she had never been a part of anything like this.
A U.S. Army Stryker armored vehicle burst into flames on the side of a Polish roadway on Saturday, the Army confirmed on Monday.
A memo circulating over the weekend warning of a "possible imminent attack" against U.S. soldiers in Germany was investigated by Army officials, who found there to not be a serious threat after all.
The U.S. Navy will name its fourth Ford-class aircraft carrier after Doris Miller, an iconic World War II sailor recognized for his heroism during the Pearl Harbor attack, according to reports in The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and U.S. Naval Institute News.
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly is expected to announce the naming of CVN-81 during a ceremony on Monday in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, according to USNI. Two of Miller's nieces are expected to be there, according to the Star-Advertiser.
Comedian Jon Stewart has joined forces with veterans groups to make sure service members who have been sickened by toxins from burn pits get the medical care they need, according to the Military Officers Association of America.
"Quite frankly, this is not just about burn pits — it's about the way we go to war as a country," Stewart said during his Jan. 17 visit to Washington, D.C. "We always have money to make war. We need to always have money to take care of what happens to people who are selfless enough, patriotic enough, to wage those wars on our behalf."