Breaking down Army's men's basketball program

As it should, that's been the big story surrounding West Point athletics over the past month. But one storyline has gone relatively unnoticed in the midst of the flurry of football headlines. The state of the Army men's basketball program. We don't know how Army athletic director Kevin Anderson feels, but this is a make or break year for coach Jim Crews.

You could even make the argument that Crews should already be out of a job.

Crews went 46-115 in his first six seasons. That includes a 15-69 mark in Patriot League play. It should be noted that after a 5-21, 1-13 mark in 2005-06, the Black Knights went 14-15, 4-10 the following year and 13-15, 6-8 last season.

Still, early on, it appears this winter could be a step back for the program. Army is 4-12, 0-2. The Black Knights' four wins this season have come against Dartmouth (twice), Bryant University and Fairleigh Dickinson. Those teams are a combined 6-40 with each squad having two wins.

Army's last loss came on Wednesday night, 47-36, to Holy Cross. The Crusaders used a 19-3 run to start the second half to break open a one-point game. Give Army credit, the Black Knights were in the game, but these type of lapses often happen with Crews' teams.

The Black Knights' 36 points were a season low and the lowest scoring game since a 52-35 loss at Presbyterian last season. Holy Cross' 47 points represented the lowest point total in an Army loss since a 42-38 defeat versus Colgate in 2006-07.

"Except for that one stretch, I thought we did a pretty good job defensively. I really did," Crews said after the game. "We put pretty good pressure on the ball and we were anticipating and fighting. I was pleased with it except for that segment . Offensively, we just really struggle. We go on too long of droughts and we don't finish plays when we need to. We turned it over too many times tonight." Also give Crews credit, before Army he was a winner as a coach at Evansville and a player at Indiana. A member of Indiana University's 1976 National Championship team, Crews lettered four years for the Hoosiers from 1972 to 1976 under Bob Knight. During his time, the Hoosiers went 108-12 (.900) including a stellar 59-5 (.922) mark in Big Ten Conference games. Indiana claimed conference titles in each of those seasons. As a senior, Crews helped the Hoosiers to a 32-0 record en route to becoming the NCAA's most recent undefeated National Champions. Army fans aren't looking for that kind of success, just some success, like a run at a Patriot League title. Army plays its first league road game on Saturday at Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks swept the regular-season series in 2007-08, but Army scored an overtime road win in the Patriot League quarterfinals.

Let's hope Army can pull off some more of the magic against Lehigh and as the Black Knights' head into the meat of the Patriot League schedule. The season has gotten off to a rough start, but it's far from over.


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