Teams: American (11-7, 7-0 PL) at Army (10-8, 6-1 PL)
Date and Location: Sat., Jan. 25, 2014, 4 p.m.– Christl Arena – West Point, N.Y.
Series: 31st meeting; AU leads 24-6
Last Meeting: L, 65-44 – West Point, N.Y. (March. 6, 2013) – PL Quarterfinals
Radio: Federal News Radio 1050AM - Dain Laing (play-by-play), Jeremy Huber (analyst)
After an offensive outburst against Boston University this past Wednesday helped American University men's basketball to first place in the Patriot League standings, the Eagles head North for another challenging conference tilt, facing the Army Black Knights on Saturday, Jan. 22, at 4 p.m., in Christl Arena.
Fans in the D.C.-metro area can tune into Federal News Radio 1050AM or listen online at FederalNewsRadio.com with Dan Laing and Jeremy Huber calling the action. Eagle Enthusiasts around the world can also watch the Patriot League Network stream online via their desktop, tablet or mobile device.
It will be the 31st meeting between the two schools in a rivalry dating back to 1963. Although Army won all three matchups last seasons, including ending AU's season in the Patriot League Quarterfinals, the Eagles still hold an impressive 24-6 series advantage, only losing to the Black Knights three times before last year.
AU continues its program best mark, opening the Patriot League slate 7-0 under first-year head coach Mike Brennan. In addition to the greatest start in Patriot League history for the Eagles, it is the best start in conference play for AU since the 1980-81 season when then head coach Gary Williams led American to a perfect 11-0 mark in ECC play and a 24-6 overall record.
AU is now riding an eight-game winning streak, with five of those wins coming on the road, four in Patriot League play. Its latest win came in fantastic fashion as AU set two, top-five Division I marks this season, recording a program best 71.4 field goal percentage against Boston U., while also hitting 11-of-14 3-pointers (78.6).
The Eagles have bought in to Brennan's "Princeton Offense" and have put it on full display, especially in Patriot League play, where all five starters are averaging double-digit points. Junior John Schoof leads the way for AU with 13.9 points per game over seven contests, with a conference-high 17 3-pointers. Senior Tony Wroblicky leads the Patriot League with 8.0 rebounds per game and is second on AU with 13.7 ppg.
AU is out to a hot start in the conference slate thanks to the sharpshooting of Schoof who was honored as this week's Patriot League Player of the Week. Schoof led the Eagles in scoring in both games last week by averaging 19.5 points in victories at Lehigh and against Lafayette. He was on fire in the first half against the Mountain Hawks and finished with season highs of 23 points and five three-pointers as AU earned a 65-63 win on the road. Schoof then totaled 16 points in a 66-61 win over Lafayette on Saturday, live on CSN+.
American's defensive unit ranks 14th in the nation, holding opponents to 60.1 points per game this season. While the Eagles have been staunch without the basketball, the AU offense has now caught up to its prowess on D, and now ranks fifth in country in team field goal percentage (.504). AU is also 28th in the NCAA with 15.8 assists per game.
The preseason number three team in the Patriot League got off to a rough star this season, starting 1-6, but they have found their groove since, winning of nine of their last 11. Army has conference wins over Lafayette, Loyola, Lehigh, Navy, Bucknell and Colgate, while its lone league loss came two games ago at home against Holy Cross.
Guard Kyle Wilson leads the Black Knight attack, averaging 18.8 ppg, doing damage from deep with 34 3-pointers this year. Although Army is averaging 74.1 ppg as a team this season, Tanner Plomb is USMA's only other double-digit scorer at 10.5 ppg. Center Kevin Ferguson leads West Point with 5.3 rpg and is third on the team with 8.4 ppg, Point guard Dylan Cox is not far behind with 8.3 ppg with a team high 3.3 apg.
Since taking the reins of the Army men's basketball program in 2009, Zach Spiker has taken the program to heights not seen in nearly three decades at West Point. The 2013 Patriot League Coach of the Year, Spiker is one of just four Army coaches to win at least 50 games in their first four seasons, joining Bobby Knight, Mike Krzyzewski and George Hunter.
More on the Eagles
American is the ninth Patriot League team to start 7-0 or better: Bucknell 2005-06 (14 in undefeated season), Fordham 1990-91 (11), Bucknell 2011-12 (10), Holy Cross 2006-07 (10), Navy 1997-98 (9), Holy Cross 1992-93 (7), Bucknell 1994-95 (7), Lafayette 2003-04 (7), American 2013-14 (7).
Coach Brennan is the third Patriot League coach to open their tenure with seven conference wins. Bucknell's Pat Flannery won his first seven games in 1994-95, and Fordham's Nick Macarchuk had an 11-0 start in his first League season in 1990-91.
AU's 71.4 FG% against Boston U. just missed the all-time Patriot League record of 71.7%, while the Eagles 78.6% 3-PT would have been the record but Bucknell hit 80% against Lafayette only two weeks ago.
This year, American boasts four players in double digit scoring as Schoof leads the way with 12.9 ppg. Second year swingman Jesse Reed is just behind Schoof's lead with 12.7. Following the dynamic duo is Wroblicky and junior point guard Darius Gardner, who are averaging 11.8 and 11.1 ppg, respectively.
Wroblicky etched his name into the American record book again, recording his 500th career rebound at Holy Cross, becoming the 28th player in program history to do so. The fourth-year center became the fifth player ever in AU history to reach 100 blocks earlier this season and now ranks third all-time with 118 career rejections.
This season, the Eagle boast three true iron men, as Gardner, Schoof and Reed each average over 32 minutes per game. Gardner is top amongst Patriot League players and 10th in the nation with 37.2 mpg, while Schoof is just behind at 36.6, ranking 25th among DI schools. Reed checks in at 32.3 mpg.
After 12 of its first 16 games on the road this season, AU finally returns home for an extended stretch, beginning last weekend against Lafayette. American plays six of its next eight game inside the friendly confines of Bender Arena. The contests at Army and at Loyola in near-by Baltimore, Md., are AU's road tilts.
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American University Athletics has a special offer for fans and alumni to cheer on the Eagles during this historic season. For only $55, the February 4-Pack provides a sideline reserved ticket to four marquee match-ups, including Phil Bender Day:
- Holy Cross – Saturday, Feb. 1 at 1 p.m.
- Colgate – Saturday, Feb. 8 at 2 p.m.
- Lehigh – Wednesday, Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m.
- Army – Saturday, Feb. 22 at 2 p.m.
Reserve your seats today. Click here to buy online or call the ticket office at (202)-885-TIXX. Come cheer on the Eagles and buy American!