Class of the league: The Black Knights go into Patriot League play Saturday with the best record in the conference. West Point’s 10-4 start is a pleasant surprise considering coach Zach Spiker was hired only 10 days before practice started when Jim Crews was unexpectedly fired. The early turmoil has not distracted the team, and they’ve reeled off nine non-conference wins against Division I competition, a program record.
Getting noticed: The start has earned Army and first-year head coach Spiker attention in the national sports media, with the New York Times profiling the team earlier this year. The Black Knights even earned an AP Top 25 vote in early December.
Pickpockets: Cleveland Richard and guard Josh Miller are first and second in the Patriot League in steals, and as a team Army leads the league in total steals. Army’s defense has been effective overall, with the Black Knights holding opponents under 60 points in all of their wins.
Offensively, guards Julian Simmons and Richard have led Army’s offensive attack, with each averaging double figures in scoring.
Stuff it, Ivy Leaguers: Army dominated the nerds Ivies in their out-of-conference schedule, beating Yale, Dartmouth, Princeton, Brown and — most impressively — Harvard, whose only other losses this season came against Georgetown and Connecticut. Spiker’s five years as an assistant at Cornell were no doubt an added asset in these contests.
Defend this house: Army is unbeaten at Christi Arena, having won eight straight there dating back to last season.
Could this be the year? Army hasn’t had a winning team since 1985. There’s still a long way to go, and Army’s been in this position before and fallen flat in league play (the 2007 squad was 10-5 before finishing 15-16). Nevertheless, this is an experienced squad that features seven seniors and came into the season with reasonably high expectations. Expect Army to end the streak and finish above .500.