With just three games left in the regular season Navy are in an interesting spot in the Patriot League. The Mids currently sit fourth in the league and are two games behind first placed Bucknell and one game behind Boston and Lehigh who are tied for second place. The only one of the teams above them that Navy has still to play is Bucknell at home on the last day of the season. The Mids form as of late has been spotty at best. Navy is 3-4 over its last seven games and really needs a run to close out the season and feel good going into the Patriot League Tournament. This weekend Navy plays a red hot Army team that is within touching distance of the Mids in the standings. Navy really needs a win to keep the Black Knights at bay.
That being said here is a look forward to the three keys for the game on Saturday:
1. Stop Kevin Ferguson getting his double-double
Kevin Ferguson has been absolutely unstoppable for Army since getting over his ankle injury that slowed him down around the turn of the year. While most were expecting Tanner Plomb to get back in the lineup and lead the Black Knights, it has really be Ferguson and his string of double-doubles that has pushed Army forwards. Against Holy Cross the senior center went off for a career high 25 points and his usual double figure rebound total (13). This was Ferguson’s fifth consecutive double-double and Navy really needs to stop that streak to have a chance. The Mids interior defense has been outstanding all year, but Ferguson is the most accurate shooter in the history of the Patriot League as he hits 63.1-percent of his shots. This battle could decide the outcome of the game.
2. Better perimeter defense
Navy has been one of the best defensive teams in the Patriot League, and the NCAA, all season long. The Mids lead the Patriot League in scoring defense (63.2) and field goal percentage defense (.410), but lately there have been cracks in that defense and it has cost Navy games. On Wednesday night the Mids lost 77-74 to Lehigh primarily because the Mountain Hawks were on fire from behind the arc. Lehigh scored 14 three-pointers in the contest and if Army can get Kyle Wilson or Plomb hot from downtown then Navy seems to be having trouble stopping shooters at this point in time. The Midshipmen’s last three opponents have shot 54-percent on 34-of-63 shooting from three-point range in their last three home games, all of which were losses.
3. Look to Tilman Dunbar
Navy has plenty of threats on the court, but the engine that makes it all go is point guard Tilman Dunbar. Dunbar is averaging 11.0 points, 3.5 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game this year. He has had 98 assists to just 72 turnovers, putting him on the positive side of that ratio for the fourth consecutive season. At 5-foot-10 and 163-pounds the senior is not going to blow anyone away with his measurables, but he is a consistent presence on the court and he is the one that Navy looks to when the game is getting tough. Dunbar needs to lead in this game and handle any defensive pressure Army throws at him. If he can have a positive assist to turnover ratio then Navy will be in a good position to win.