Army on the verge of making basketball history at West Point


WEST POINT Army is two wins away from making the NCAA mens basketball tournament. . . For just about every Division One college in the nation, thats not a major accomplishment, but the Black Knights are one of a small handful of teams that have never made the Big Dance. . . The mid-major Patriot League is almost always a one-bid conference to the NCAAs so you have to win the postseason tournament to get in. In Armys 31-year history in the Patriot, the Black Knights have not even tasted the finals. . . This years Army team is different. The Black Knights 12-8 run in transition, spread the scoring and play defense. This is Armys best chance to advance since the 2015-16 team reached the league semifinals, and lost to an underdog. . Head coach Jimmy Allen is not going to let his players think too far ahead. The task straight ahead is Wednesdays Patriot League semifinal outing with No. 8 seed Loyola Md. , which just knocked off No. 1 seed Navy on Saturday. . . But come Sunday afternoon, the cadets could be dancing. . . I think they realize the significance, Allen said. I think thats why they came here. The guys in our program understand the prestige of West Point on a national level, and weve been knocking on the NCAA door here recently. Coming here and wanting to be a part of making basketball history has been a big part of why a lot of these guys made the decision. . . In the newfangled Patriot scheduling, Loyola is one of the schools that Army did not face during this regular season, so there is an element of the unknown. . . I feel really good about what our team has done in terms of the schedule that we played, Allen said, and what thats allowed us to do as a team in terms of just our growth and our ability to continue to improve and being ready for pretty much anything that gets thrown at us. Nobody in our league has played a tougher schedule to this point. . . The Greyhounds feature a pair of formidable big men. Six-foot-11 center Santi Aldama may be the best player in the league, Allen says, averaging 21 points and 10 rebounds per game. Six-foot-10 Golden Dike is averaging seven points and six rebounds. . . Theyve got terrific size, which I think certainly creates some issues, Allen said. Weve got to do a solid job on those guys. I think for us, just being able to rebound the basketball and keep them from getting easy baskets is important. . . Allen is pleased with Armys recent defensive play. . . I think its getting back to where we were before the COVID break for us, said Allen, whose team missed four games from Jan. 30-Feb. 7. And when were able to get out in transition, I think thats certainly good for us. . Weve just got to keep focusing on getting better, and I think this group has really taken that to heart. Its been a fun ride and Im excited about Wednesday night. . . Notes. Tip-off is 5. 30 p. m. at West Points Christl Arena. As per protocol all season, no paid spectators will be admitted but expect a good number of cadets to attend. The game will be televised by CBS Sports Network.

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