2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Utah Review

Published: February 10, 2008, 5:21 pm, by admin

I’ve gotten a bunch of e-mails from fans regarding Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds’ post-game comments to Jim Arthur on the radio. I didn’t hear them, but I gather they were very similar to what he said to the print and television folks in the media room.

Here are some excerpts of what he said to us.

“Utah was tougher than we were today. They were mentally tougher, they got to the loose balls and the rebounds and they were better prepared and better coached.”

“I felt our team played hard. That’s all I can ask them to do, they did that for me. … I felt like we played hard. I’ve got to go back to the drawing board.”

“I thought we distributed the ball very well. I thought we attacked the rim very well. As a coach I just was calling the wrong plays. “

“As a coach you wonder if you’re running the wrong system for the guys because we got good shots, and they just didn’t go in. As a coach you’ve got to make an adjustment. I didn’t make an adjustment. I can’t blame it on the kids, I did a bad job. Simple as that. They were better prepared, they out-toughed us. That’s my fault. Hard to swallow. “

I don’t pretend to know if Reynolds was trying to take the blame off his inexperienced players to protect them and try to preserve their confidence or if he really believed it was his fault or if it was some combination of the two.

I do know that Reynolds is as emotional and passionate a coach as I ever have covered – and that he’s wound tighter than just about any coach I’ve ever covered. I think that comes out at times in his post-game dealings with the media. I think he is extremely hard on himself and takes every loss like it was a loss in the national championship game.

His team was picked to finish next-to-last in the league, but I think he still feels the pressure of expectations created by the Falcons’ success the last few years. Especially because this is his first season.

Other Thoughts
- Back in football season, I remember some of the players saying after a loss that they couldn’t let it “beat us twice.”

That’s part of the task that faces the Air Force men’s basketball team this week.

Facing UNLV Tuesday on its home court, where the Rebels have been outstanding, will be difficult enough. So Air Force must make sure there’s no hangover from the loss to the Utes.

And that will be tough. Air Force seemed in control in the first half, but they squandered a 10-point lead quickly in the second half. It marked the first time the Falcons have been unable to follow a loss with a victory. And it came at home, where Air Force’s dominance seems to be fading.

I don’t necessarily think Air Force is headed for a downward spiral if it loses on Tuesday. But the Falcons at least need to play well to keep some semblance of confidence heading into a stretch in which they should be favored to win some games. They’ll face Mountain West Conference bottom-feeders Wyoming (at home) and Colorado State (on the road) as well as New Mexico (at home).

-Thought Andrew Henke played as well as he’s played all year in the first half against Utah. In the second he took just one shot before his ill-fated 3-pointer with about 25 seconds left. That was a shot that probably shouldn’t have been taken. But, again, that’s probably inexperience.