Basketball Review: Army/Navy Recap and Patriot League RPI
After Army’s Men’s and Women’s Basketball both lost miserable games to Navy on Saturday, both teams bounced back and won on Sunday. What started as a grim weekend in Army sports ended with an exclamation mark! Even Army Hockey Coach Brian Riley got in on the action!!!
— Brian Riley (@Coach_BRiley) January 24, 2021
Saturday’s star match was a frustrating affair. Army’s front court offense had next to no rhythm all game. It seemed that the only times Army could get anything going, it was because their point guards crowded the passing lanes, picking up points off of turnovers. Army’s defense gave up just 69 points, which is about average, but their sluggish offense couldn’t make that work.
Sunday’s game gave me about four heart attacks, but both I and the Army team came out alive. For a game in which Army trailed for a grand total of 18 seconds through 45 minutes of game clock, you’d think it’d be easy to watch. It wasn’t.
Early in the game, Army found the front court driving lanes which had seemed so elusive on Saturday. Among the most impressive stat lines for Army were 36 points in the paint, 28 points from the charity stripe, and 22 points off the bench. Army shared the rock well, with Lonnie Grayson, Jalen Rucker, Josh Caldwell, and Nick Finke all scoring double-digits. Alex King and Tucker Blackwell were both within a bucket of a double-digit day as well.
Despite all of this, Army’s defense couldn’t shake Navy in the final minutes. The Mids’ Cam Davis hit for two to tie the game at 71 with 11 seconds remaining. Jalen Rucker then missed a jump shot, and we went to overtime.
Scoring was at a premium in the first four minutes of OT. Army scored five to Navy’s three heading into the final minute. After Navy was forced to foul, though, Grayson, Duhart, Caldwell, and King closed out the game with a combination of free throws.
Final Score: Army 87, Navy 78.
ARMY TAKES DOWN NAVY IN ANNAPOLIS!
— Army M.Basketball (@ArmyWP_MBB) January 24, 2021
Patriot League RPI
Warning: This is about to get nerdy. The Women’s recap is down below for those of you who took Rock Math.
In normal years, the Patriot League has a balanced schedule. Every team plays every other team twice, once at home and once on the road. So strength of schedule is the same for everyone. This year, though, the schedules are unbalanced due to COVID, and each team’s schedule has a different degree of difficulty as a result. Bottom line, the team with the best record may not be the best team.
One way to determine how good teams are is to use the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI). RPI weighs a team’s record at 25%, their opponents’ records at 50% and their opponents’ opponents’ records at 25%.
Army is currently tied for 3rd in the Patriot League standings based on their record, but their RPI puts them much closer 2nd. If the season were to end today, Army would earn either a 3- or 4-seed in the Patriot League Tournament, but we should expect to see them outperform their seeding.
Full rankings are below.
The @PatriotLeagueTV Men's Basketball Standing and RPI (league games only) at the season halfway mark.
— Brigade Review (@brigade_review) January 25, 2021
Talk about two different teams… The Army Women got off to a good start on Saturday, leading by two after the first quarter, but they could not get into a grove after that until it was far too late. The team scored just 4 points in the second quarter and 11 in the third. They then put up 20 in the fourth, but even that was only good enough for a mere 27.7% shooting percentage overall. Junior Guard Sarah Bohn led the team in scoring with 13 points. Worse, the defense struggled, allowing Navy to hit 42.9% from beyond the arc.
Sunday’s performance had me double-checking that I was watching the same team. Other than a late Navy streak — enough to scare me a bit — consistency was the name of the game for the defense. They held Navy to just 26.4% from the field and to 21.1% from deep. Navy came out in the same 2-3 zone they played on Saturday, but this time Coach Magarity and his ladies were prepared. They looked much better in the paint and always seemed to finish the play. With that, their shooting percentage rose to 41.1%, including a solid 7/19 from 3-point range. Four players — Alisa Fallon, Sabria Hunter, Sam McNaughton, and Kate Murray — finished with double-digit points.
Army (3-5) sits in 7th place in the Patriot League, which puts them 2 games inside of a Patriot League Tournament bid. They’ll need to play more consistently down the stretch to ensure that they make it to the postseason.
— Army W.Basketball (@ArmyWP_WBB) January 24, 2021
Go Army! BEAT NAVY!!!
Cover image via @ArmyWP_WBB.