Army sports notebook

Let's give credit where credit is due. About a month ago, this fine website took an in-depth look at the state of the Army men's basketball team. Your favorite site for Army news also said it was a make or break year for coach Jim Crews. The Black Knights have not turned into Duke or UConn overnight, but has made some strides since our story ran.

Following the story, Army lost to Lehigh, but followed it up with three consecutive Patriot League wins over Navy, Lafayette and Bucknell. It marked the first time the Black Knights won three straight regular-season games since 2006-07. Army followed that up with losses at American and against Colgate.

However, the Black Knights showed some fight, trailing by 14 points at halftime. Army enter's Wednesday night's game against Holy Cross 7-15, 3-5 Patriot League. The Black Knights certainly have some more work to do, but they definitely have dug out of the hole we mentioned last month.

Good luck to the Black Knights the rest of the way.

Army's next head basketball coach?

Although Crews, who hasn't had a winning season at West Point in seven years, seems to have job security, there could be a potential candidate to replace him, if he leaves or is fired, down the road.

Army fans might remember the name, Chris Spatola. This is just a thought, there have been no reports on Spatola, who serves as Duke's director of basketball operations under Mike Krzyzewski . But he seems worth mentioning.

Spatola was a four-year letterwinner on the basketball team from 1999-2002. He was named to the All-Patriot League second team in 2001 and 2002. He is the Academy's fifth all-time leading scorer with 1,543 career points and ranks 14th in Patriot League history. Spatola is the school's all-time leading free throw shooter (.870). He ranks sixth all-time at Army with 291 assists and tied for 10th with 86 steals. He played in 111 career games to rank tied for third all-time at West Point.

Spatola led the team in scoring for three straight seasons from 2000-02 and was the leading scorer in the Patriot League in 2001 (18.5 ppg.) and 2002 (16.5 ppg.). He also led the league in three-point field goal percentage (.422) as a freshman and free throw percentage (.897) as a senior. In his junior season, he scored 43 points against Lafayette on Jan. 27, 2001, which was tied for the sixth-best single game total in school history. He served as a team captain his senior season.

Spatola went to Duke after serving five years in the United States Army as a Battery Commander and Executive Officer. During his duty as captain in the U.S. Army, Spatola was awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal for exceptional performances during Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Army Commendation Medal for outstanding performance as Company Commander.

It seems that Spatola would need more seasoning on the bench, but Coach K would put in a good word for him. We do hope that if Spatola ever returns to West Point, Crews leaves on his own, after a successful season.

Belated congratulations

This goes to former Army football coach Bob Sutton. Sutton will be retained by new New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan.

Sutton seemed destined to be fired by Eric Mangini after last year, but he held on to his job. Sutton joined the Jets as a linebackers coach in 2000 and spent 2007-08 as the defensive coordinator. Ryan named him linebackers coach/defensive assistant.

What is amazing, especially in the NFL, is that Sutton has lasted through three Jets regimes, Al Groh, Herman Edwards and Mangini. That's a testament to his ability abd the type of person he is.


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