Consistent Navy still has bowl left after Army

Consistent Navy still has bowl left after Army

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Army vs. Navy always ranks as the five-star game on the schedule for each service academy.

Nothing tops the regular season finale in pride, pageantry and prestige.

The Commander-in-Chief's Trophy is indeed up for grabs, too, and Army has serious incentive - other than the obvious motivation - to beat Navy this season in the annual game. But win or lose, Army's season ends on Saturday. For Navy - like it has for most of the Ken Niumatalolo Era - there is another game to play. A bowl game and another opportunity to fine-tune an ultra-consistent program.

The Midshipmen come to Lincoln Financial Field, home of the NFL's Eagles, on Saturday looking to extend their series-record winning streak with their 11th straight victory over the Black Knights. Before Navy started its run, the longest winning streak in the series, started in 1890, was only five games. Navy opened as an 8 1/2-point favorite over the Black Knights in their 113th meeting, putting win No. 11 firmly on the horizon.

But there is more to every Navy season than just this game. Under Niumatalolo, a postseason berth has become almost automatic.

The Midshipmen (7-4) rebounded from a 5-7 season last year to play Arizona State in the Fight Hunger Bowl on Dec. 29 in San Francisco. Niumatalolo took over for Paul Johnson in 2007 in time to coach in the Poinsettia Bowl, then led the Midshipmen to three straight bowl games on his own. In fact, Navy had made a bowl game from 2003-2010 until last season's stumble, solidifying itself as the class of the service academies, and earning bragging rights for more than the CIC trophy.

It wasn't always this way, of course. When Johnson was hired in 2002, in fact, Navy was coming off the worst two-year span in its 123-year history (1-20) and had only two winning seasons in the previous 20 years. Navy plays an independent schedule and has no automatic tie-in to any of the bowls. But the Midshipmen have earned credibility and a recruiting boost with regular wins over the Black Knights and yearly holiday-time trips to sunny destinations.

``I don't really know what the formula is, we just continue to try and win,'' Niumatalolo said. ``We just try and work hard. We've got hard-nosed kids, some good kids, just like Army does. Our biggest thing is play into the intangibles of teamwork, work ethic, discipline, all those things to overcome lack of size and speed.''

Last season's backslide trickled into this season after a 1-3 start that included a 50-10 loss to Notre Dame. But a 28-21 overtime win over Air Force on Oct. 28 was the start of a five-game win streak that led to the Mids winning six of their final seven.

Beat Army, and the season becomes a special one.

``This is not a game you want to lose,'' Navy receiver Bo Snelson said. ``It's not something I want to have happen for our senior class.''

Army is tired of ending its season against Navy. Like the Midshipmen, the Black Knights want to keep playing and get to a bowl game. Army won the Armed Forces Bowl in 2010 - its only bowl game since 1996 and second since 1988. But the Mids are somehow finding it easier to play into late December.

It wasn't easy. Niumatalolo has built a winning tradition under the toughest of recruiting pitches: Football is the easiest thing to do in Annapolis, Md. No dreams of first-round, draft-pick stardom and multimillion dollar contracts here. Last week, Navy's 28 seniors received their service assignments. Graduates of the Naval Academy serve a minimum of five years in the Navy or Marine Corps, while pilots serve eight years upon earning their wings.

There are day-to-day rules and traditions at the Naval Academy that supersede anything that happens on the football field, too. More than games lie ahead for Navy's football players.

``We're not trying to detract from any of the missions of what our great institution stands for,'' Niumatalolo said. ``That's been the biggest battle. I think a lot of people understand it and embrace it. But there's some people (at the academy) that think we're just a football machine, trying to create a football powerhouse.

``And that's not who we are.''

Maybe not in the traditional college football landscape. But on one Saturday each December, at least for a long while, there's no team in the land better than Navy.


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How to watch Capitals vs. Sabres NHL 20 simulation

How to watch Capitals vs. Sabres NHL 20 simulation

Monday night was supposed to be another night of Capitals action with a game against the Buffalo Sabres. Unfortunately due to the NHL’s hold on the season in response to the coronavirus outbreak, the show can not go on as originally planned. 

However, with some minor adjustments to the presentation, there is still a way to keep things going. 

Monday night at 7 p.m. ET the Capitals will be taking the ice to play the Sabres as planned, only this time it will be virtual ice on an NHL 20 simulation. 

In partnership with Monumental Sports Network, NBC Sports Washington will be airing all Wizards and Capitals games in simulated NBA 2K20 and NHL 2K20 games. The format of these games includes watching the simulated versions of Caps games based on the existing schedule with the bonus of commentary from NBCSW’s experts. 

To make things even more fun, in between the simulation and the re-air of the simulation, there is a chance to relive a classic Caps game. So don’t forget to stick around and re-watch Dowd and the Capitals dominate the Penguins from earlier this season. 

Here's everything you need to know to watch. 

When: Monday, March 30 at 7 p.m. ET


  • NBC Sports Washington (channel finder
  • Any of our 24/7 authenticated streaming platforms
  • Monumental Sports Network via its website or via any of its available apps on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, and Xbox.

Broadcast schedule: 

7:00 PM: NHL 20 Simulation: Capitals @ Buffalo Sabres (P)
8:00 PM: NHL Classics: Capitals @ Pittsburgh Penguins (R) 
10:30 PM: NHL 20 Simulation: Capitals @ Buffalo Sabres (R)

Starting lineups: 

Capitals: TBD
Sabres: TBD

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.


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LeBron James scores 36, Wizards still top Lakers in NBA 2K simulation

LeBron James scores 36, Wizards still top Lakers in NBA 2K simulation

These 2K simulations certainly do agree with the Wizards. Coming off a stunning victory over the Bucks Friday, Washington turned around on the second night of a back-to-back and beat the Lakers 73-66 at virtual Capital One Arena. 

LeBron James was a one-man wrecking crew for LA, Bradley Beal led the scoring attack for the Wizards and Thomas Bryant got revenge on the team that waived him. 

Here's how the Wizards picked up their fourth-straight 2K win. 

Offensive rebounds

The Lakers are one of the biggest teams in the NBA with James, Anthony Davis, JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard playing heavy minutes, but it was the Wizards who dominated the boards in this one. 

Bryant led the way for Washington on the glass with seven of his 13 rebounds coming on the offensive end. The Lakers shot the ball significantly better than the Wizards (47% to 39%) but Washington was simply overwhelming them on the glass to create more opportunities. 

Washington grabbed 18 offensive rebounds compared to the Lakers' eight, and it ended being the major difference in the result. 

LeBron's one-man show

The real-life Lakers' biggest weakness is their lack of playmaking outside of James. In a game where James had everything working for him, the Lakers struggled to get anything going whenever he didn't have the ball. 

Rajon Rondo struggled mightily despite tallying eight assists (2-11 FG) and Davis had a bad game relative to his standards (10 points, one rebound, three blocks).

I'd be curious to see what virtual LeBron would have to say about his teammates after this particular game. 

Thomas Bryant's revenge

As we stated before, Bryant was waived by the Lakers after his rookie season and his virtual self took it all out on his former team Saturday night. 

He dominated the boards and once again protected the paint in a way that would make Elvin Hayes proud. He finished with eight points, 13 rebounds and five blocks. 

With Bryant playing the way he has been the last few simulations, the Wizards' defense has been exceptional. Outside of defensive versatility, having a strong defensive center anchoring the defense is paramount to an effective unit. 

Other parting thoughts

Jerome Robinson continues to play well as a starter, scoring 13 points in 19 minutes. The Wizards didn't get that long of a look at Robinson before the NBA suspended its season.

After acquiring him at the trade deadline in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, it'd be another steal by Tommy Sheppard if Robinson can play like this consistently in real life. 

Instead of erupting in the fourth quarter to help the Wizards secure a win, Beal went off for 14 points in the third this time. He finished with 24 points and went 12-for-30 from the field.

Markieff Morris made a return to DC in this one. The Lakers uniform looks weird on him. 

It's hard to capture just how quick Ish Smith is in a video game, but this spin move came pretty close. 

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.