ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Navy men's basketball team is ready for the rival of all rivals.
"It’s definitely more than just a regular game," said guard John Carter Jr., Navy's leading scorer.
"Honestly, it’s kind of surreal - just the week, the energy, the atmosphere, the brigade," said forward Richard Njoku. "Everyone is excited. Everyone is ready to go."
Excited and ready to go against Army. The Black Knights come to town Saturday and the stakes could not be higher. Both teams are bunched at the top of the Patriot League Conference standings with 5-2 records. Njoku thinks Navy’s experience should help them. They boast four returning starters from last year’s team that went 12-1 in the league.
"The maturity level of this team is really impressive," he said. "A lot of those guys, both our juniors and the seniors, played a lot of minutes this past season and won a lot of games last year as well."
If history is any indicator we’re in for a close one. Two of the last three and four of the last 11 Army-Navy games have been extended into overtime.
"I think it is because of who it is and what’s on the line and it’s the pride thing," said Navy head coach Ed DeChellis. "These kids on both institutions have a lot of pride."
"There is so much emotion involved," added Carter Jr. "There is so much desire and want-to in that game that it doesn’t matter who is the better team on paper because there are so much more added factors that come into it."
The Mids are looking to replicate their road success at home. Their seven true road wins are tied for most in the country. At home they are 4-4. DeChellis said his team has to figure that out. And then…
"I think we have enough in our locker room and on our team to be as good as anybody and I think we can challenge for this league title."
Saturday's game is scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. tip inside Alumni Hall. The Army and Navy women’s teams take the floor at 11:00 a.m.