Army is famously (infamously) one of the five original Division I basketball teams that has never made the NCAA Tournament. The start of the season made it look like the Black Knights could leave Northwestern, The Citadel, William & Mary and St. Francis (N.Y.) behind and finally move away from this club of sadness. Though the results have been up and down, and mainly down, for the last couple of weeks, this is still a team that can do some damage as we draw ever closer to the Patriot League Tournament.
Here is a quick for and against list looking at the Black Knights streak breaking chances:
Tanner Plomb and Kevin Ferguson are back – The single biggest reason for the dip in the Black Knights play was losing their two most important players. Plomb leads the Patriot League in scoring (21.4 ppg), while Ferguson is a rebounding machine. The two combined for 39 points and 20 rebounds against Lafayette on Wednesday night.
Tanner Plomb and Kevin Ferguson are rested – Certainly it was less than ideal to have Plomb and Ferguson out of the lineup, but the flip side of that is that their bodies have a little less wear on them than most. If both can get fully healthy then that extra spring in their step could be vital come the postseason.
Army is 9-5 with its regular starters – When Army starts with a lineup of Dylan Cox, Kyle Wilson, Plomb, Larry Toomey and Ferguson they are very difficult to beat. That starting five leads to Army scoring over 83 ppg against some of the better teams on the schedule. The importance of Cox on the team and his 66-32 assist to turnover numbers cannot be overstated.
The team has no depth – When Plomb and Ferguson went down Army bottomed out. The team lost a bunch of games to Patriot League teams that the Black Knights are better than when at full strength. Losing the 16th leading scorer in the nation would hurt any team, but because of the recruiting restrictions it will always hurt Army more. The starting five simply has to stay health for Army to compete.
Seeding issues – One of the biggest issues with Army’s conference play slump is how that will impact the team in the tournament. The Black Knights have a legitimate shot of winning the Patriot League, but they are currently in ninth place with a 4-7 conference record. The good news is that there is only a three game difference between Army and second placed Navy (7-4) but the Black Knights can afford very few missteps the rest of the way if they want a decent seed.
Kyle Wilson’s three point issues – When Army is at its best Wilson is a three point machine. During the slide however Wilson was missing badly and he has to find his rhythm again. Three point shooters are a funny breed and a sustained period of misfires can present big problems when it comes to confidence. Wilson is shooting 33-percent from three and that needs to be increased if Army is to make a run.