Army West Point begins its 2016 postseason by hosting Colgate on Thursday night. The Black Knights are the number four seed in the tournament on tiebreakers while Colgate comes into this one as the fifth seed in the Patriot League Tournament. With a starting rotation loaded with seniors there are many that think this is the Black Knights best chance to make the NCAA Tournament in decades and that all starts with this contest against the Raiders.
That being said here is a look forward to the three keys for the game on Thursday night:
1. Trust the starters
One of the most interesting aspects of the Black Knights season is just how well the team has played with its regular starting rotation. This is clearly a team that is light on depth, but the starting lineup of Dylan Cox, Kyle Wilson, Tanner Plomb, Larry Toomey and Kevin Ferguson is 14-6 on the season and averages over 82 points per game. In contrast when any of those players has missed a start the Black Knights are 4-6 and the scoring drops to just 71.4 points per game. These five players trust each other and have a chemistry that is hard to replicate when others step in. Expect to see these five play a lot of minutes, especially if the game is close down the stretch.
2. Get Kevin Ferguson the ball in the post
Kevin Ferguson has had a monster year for the Black Knights. He was named to the All Patriot League Second Team as well as being chosen on the conference’s inaugural all-defensive team. The best part of Ferguson’s game though is his shot selection and his ability to make baskets. He has been a double-double machine down the stretch and shoots and absurd 61.2-percent from the field, the highest mark in the history of the conference. If Army can feed Ferguson in the paint he will make his shots and keep defenders honest allowing Wilson and Plomb to bomb away from three-point range.
3. Stop Austin Tillotson
The go to man for Colgate is senior Austin Tillotson and if the Black Knights can keep his output under control they will have a very good chance of winning the game. Tillotson is leading the Raiders with 17.4 points per game in conference play and 15.2 points per game for the season. He was named to the All Patriot League First Team and for his career he has over a dozen games where he has gone for more than 20 points on the night. A game like that would prove a real problem for the Black Knights, but the pace Army play the game at does allow for a shooter like Tillotson to get hot in a hurry.