• UNLV Wrap

    Sat, January 31, 2009 by admin with 3 comments

    I thought Air Force might give UNLV some trouble today.

     

    But against a Rebels team that was far from knock-you-out-of-your-chair impressive, Air Force lost by 21.

     

    Before today I was convinced the Falcons might sneak up on one of the better teams some time this season. After today? I don’t think so.

     

    This team looks lost, out of gas and caught in a funk it might not get out of by the end of the season.

     

    Looking at the rest of the schedule is a bit frightening. Air Force has nine conference games left, and just four are at home. Do you see the Falcons beating San Diego State, Utah, TCU, UNLV or BYU on the road? Me neither. I also don’t see them beating BYU or New Mexico at home unless they absolutely catch fire from 3-point range. That leaves the Feb. 21 and 28 games at Clune against Colorado State and Wyoming, respectively. Those might be the Falcons’ two shots.

     

    Other thoughts:

     

    -Too many Robins, not enough Batmen.

     

    My buddy Keith Adams, who used to coach a high school team I covered back in DC, always would tell me that you needed a Robin or two to go along with your Batman.

     

    Well, Air Force has the opposite problem. I think Andrew Henke, Matt Holland and Anwar Johnson all are good players. But I think they all do best when they’re sidekicks. They’re Robins.

     

    -Liked the lineup Air Force had mid-way through the first half – Johnson and Shawn Hempsey at the guards and Henke, Taylor Stewart and Holland in the frontcourt.

     

    Yeah, no real size out there, but Air Force doesn’t have much size usually, so why not go small? All of those guys are able to shoot the 3, save for Johnson, which you need in this offense. And it’s about as athletic a group as the Falcons could put together (of the guys that get playing time).

     

    -Finally, here is the transcript of Jeff Reynolds’ meeting with the local media after the game. It looks long, but it won’t take too long to read it.

     

    Question: With all the freshmen playing as much as they did, are you kind of building for the future right now?

    Jeff Reynolds: Not necessarily. Just sort of happened today.

    Q: Jeff, are you searching for a lineup that’s going to click for you?

    JR: We’re looking at it, yeah.

    Q: Coach, how frustrating is it with the shooting? It seemed like you had some looks again tonight, Andrew had some that didn’t go in.

    JR: We had some looks and it didn’t go in and then it affected our defense on the other end.

    Q: Were you critical of the defense on the other end, especially on some of their 3s?

    JR: Yes.

    Q: Didn’t cover well enough?

    JR: Yes.

    Q: Do you plan to keep taking that many 3s [Air Force took 20]?

    JR: We didn’t take any more 3s tonight than we normally do.

    Q: So are you going to keep taking that many 3s?

    JR: I think their defense had something to do with that. We went to the basket early in the game and had some shots rejected and missed some layups. I haven’t looked at the tape, but hopefully when we get a chance to look at the tape, we’ll see whether those 3s were contested or uncontested.

    Q: Do you think there’s a time coming when you can make more? The percentages haven’t been very good this season.

    JR: I don’t know. Our percentages inside the 3 haven’t been very good either.

    Q: Coach, how about with Anwar, will there be a point in time where he might just have to shut it down with him not being able to practice?

    JR: We hope not.

    Q: Do you think he’ll be able to return to practice at all, or is it going to be like this the rest of the way?

    JR: Don’t know. It’s a day-to-day decision of the trainers.

    Q: What can you do in addition to what’s already been done to try to get over the hump?

    JR: Keep working.

    Q: In practice or …

    JR: Keep working

    Q: Throughout the games, everything.

    JR: Yes.

    Q: What do you like about Schafer’s approach? My observation he’s kind of a happy boost of energy when he gets out there.

    JR: Great energy. Got good skills. Needs strength.

    Q: I was just talking to him, his brother who is 24 weighs 250 (pounds), is that encouraging that he’s probably heading for a much bigger frame?

    JR: I don’t know how to answer that. Sammy’s an awful small-frame guy. I’m not sure he can carry that much weight. He’s got thin shoulders. But if he gets up to 230, that’d be great.

    Q: How do you get the mojo back in this building? After the long stretch you’ve had here, confidence-wise for a young team, does it start with winning at home?

    JR: Yes, it sure does.

    Q: How do you do that? Is it just a matter of making shots?

    JR: We’ve got to play better than we’ve been playing.

    Q: Coach, with Brandon Provost’s time, was that practice he’s been doing better, or was it just what he did out there?

    JR: A combination of both.

    Q: What did you like that he did out there tonight?

    JR: Played, I thought, defensively, guarding the ball.

    Q: Turnovers, 16, too many to win a game?

    JR: Yes.

    Q: What changes do you want to see before the BYU game?

    JR: More energy. Better effort.

    Q: Was the energy and effort not there tonight?

    JR: Didn’t think so.

    Q: Coach, what happened with Drew, when he went to the ground? Did he get hit in the head?

    JR: Hit in the eye.

    Q: How about Evan Washington? He played a lot fewer minutes, is he OK health-wise?

    JR: He’s fine.

    Q: You said you didn’t really see the energy and effort that you wanted to out there, did you see some of that energy from the younger kids like Provost?

    JR: At times, yes. At times.

     

    Back tomorrow with links.

  • FINAL: UNLV 59, Air Force 38

    Sat, January 31, 2009 by admin with 2 comments

    Air Force’s uniforms were different. The result was the same.

     

    Wearing their alternate gray jerseys and shorts, the Falcons lost their eighth straight game, falling to UNLV, 59-38.

     

    As had been the case throughout a dismal month of January, Air Force struggled to score. The Falcons made 13-of-37 shots from the floor, including just 5-of-20 3-pointers, and 7-of-12 free throws. At one point mid-way through the second half, after watching yet another 3-pointer bounce high off the rim, senior guard/forward Andrew Henke looked up at the roof of Clune and screamed.

     

    The loss was Air Force’s ninth in its last 10 games and fifth straight on the home floor where just two seasons ago it was virtually unbeatable. The Falcons fell to 9-11 and 0-7 in Mountain West Conference play, while UNLV, which snapped a six-game losing streak at Clune, improved to 17-4 and 5-2.

     

    The Falcons made just one field goal and scored five points in the first eight minutes. They seemed poised to break out of their scoring slump, however, when senior forward Matt Holland hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to give Air Force a 13-12 lead with 7:30 left in the first half.

     

    But UNLV responded with an 8-0 run to re-gain control and finished the half on a 17-6 run.

     

    Air Force scored on its first two possessions of the second half but went cold from there, and less than five minutes into the half the Rebels led by 17.

  • Halftime: UNLV 29, Air Force 19

    Sat, January 31, 2009 by admin with no comments

    Through one half at Clune Arena, it’s the same old story for Air Force.

     

    The Falcons struggled to make shots, hitting just 6-of-19 from the floor, including 3-of-11 from 3-point range, and went to halftime trailing UNLV, 29-19.

     

    Air Force, which is winless in Mountain West Conference play, is attempting to snap a seven-game losing streak.

     

    The Falcons scored just five points in the first eight minutes but seemed poised to break out of their shooting slump when senior Matt Holland hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to give Air Force a 13-12 lead. But UNLV responded with an 8-0 run to re-gain control.

  • Moments to the Tip

    Sat, January 31, 2009 by admin with no comments

    We’re moments away from Air Force-UNLV.

     

    The Falcons, perhaps trying to switch up the mojo a bit, are wearing their gray uniforms they wore at times last season.

     

    Whether or not that helps Air Force’s shooting … we’ll see.

  • Game Day Links

    Sat, January 31, 2009 by admin with no comments

    Air Force and UNLV both will be trying to end six-game losing streaks in this afternoon’s game.

     

    The Falcons have lost six straight in Mountain West Conference regular season play, while the Runnin’ Rebels have lost six straight games at Clune Arena.

     

    You can find my preview story (deals with freshman Taylor Stewart) here and my three things to watch below. Also, for a view from the other side, check out some stories from The Las Vegas Review-Journal, here and here.

     

    Finally, check out David Ramsey’s take on the women’s basketball program here.

     

    3 THINGS TO WATCH

    1. AIR FORCE’S SHOOTING

    Of all the problems the Falcons have had throughout Mountain West Conference play, none has been bigger than their shooting. After making 47.5 percent of their shots from the floor in nonconference play, including 43.3 percent from 3-point range, Air Force’s shooting percentages have dropped to 38.0 and 30.3 in league play. The defenses the Falcons have faced have improved, but that doesn’t explain the free throw shooting. Air Force’s dropped from 70.4 in nonconference play to 57.0 in MWC play.

     

    2. UNLV F RENE ROUGEAU

    Senior guard Wink Adams is an explosive scorer who leads UNLV with 13.8 points per game. But the versatile 6-foot-6 Rougeau is in many ways the Rebels’ key performer. In addition to scoring 11.1 points per game, he leads UNLV in blocks (40), steals (30), shooting percentage (57.8) and rebounds (7.3 per game). “He can really play a lot of different spots for them,” Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds said. “He’s making perimeter shots, very good rebounder, good post-up player.”

     

    3. AIR FORCE’S MATT HOLLAND AND ANDREW HENKE

    Prior to the season, Reynolds called the 6-6 senior forwards his “bookends.” But lately, when one has held up his end of the bargain, the other hasn’t. Holland had 25 points against Colorado State on Jan. 20, while Henke had nine. Last Tuesday at Wyoming, Henke had 18 while Holland had three. Both will need to have big games if Air Force is to upset the Rebels.

     

    Quote to Note: “Defensively, I think they’re better than they were last year, and offensively I think they’ve played the best in their last two games.” – Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds on UNLV.

    Note to Quote: On Jan. 14, UNLV lost at Colorado State to a Rams team that had dropped 19 consecutive MWC regular season games. A week later the Rebels snapped BYU’s 25-game home conference winning streak. UNLV hasn’t had much luck lately at Clune Arena, dropping six straight on Air Force’s home floor.

     

  • Thursday Odds and Ends

    Fri, January 30, 2009 by admin with 2 comments

    Some hoops notes as Air Force prepares to take on UNLV, which is tied for first place in the Mountain West Conference …

     

    -Looks like UNLV senior guard Wink Adams is healthy. After sitting out the Rebels’ game at Louisville with an abdominal strain and then playing just 18 minutes (and not scoring) against New Mexico and scoring nine in a loss to TCU, Adams has scored 14, 20, 22 and 14 as UNLV has gone 3-1.

     

    “I think he’s playing better,” Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds said of Adams. “He’s over his abdominal injury – I think that hurt him, kept him out of his rhythm.

     

    “Wink’s been around forever, he knows what coach (Lon) Kruger wants and he’s a big-time shot-maker. People say he’s not shooting the ball very well this year – he’s a player. He makes game shots when they need shots.”

     

    -Check out this stat pointed out to me today: Through 19 games this season, Air Force’s starting guards (Anwar Johnson and Evan Washington) have combined to make six 3-pointers. Johnson is 3-for-9 from long range, while Washington is 3-for-21. That’s 6-for-30 for the two players who average the most minutes on the team (Johnson averages 33.4, and Washington averages 32.2)

     

    -Johnson sat out of practice again today thanks to his injured right foot. He’ll miss tomorrow’s session and then try to give it a go on Saturday. Johnson hasn’t practiced since before the Falcons’ game against Utah on Jan. 14.

     

    -Sophomore forward Tom Fow, who has been slow to recover from offseason knee surgery, has been cleared to play, Reynolds said. “He’s made considerable progress. I don’t think he’s 100 percent, but he’s been cleared to play.”

  • Falcons eager for big series on the ice

    Thu, January 29, 2009 by admin with no comments

    A quick switch from the hardwood to the ice …

    To hear the talk, last weekend’s hockey sweep of Army was for the academy. This weekend might be for the hockey team.

    “The media really plays up the Army series, and obviously it’s a big series for us and our school,” Falcons senior Greg Flynn said. “But there’s a very high emotion game against Mercyhurst and I think is kind of an unsung rivalry that we have between the teams.”

    Understand, the series between the schools is 5-4 Air Force, the advantage being the last meeting between the teams, which was the 5-4 double-overtime victory in last season’s Atlantic Hockey Association championship game. Adding to what Flynn said is the fact each team has been better on the road by a 3-1 edge.

    The Falcons have won the last two games against the Lakers and three of the last four. But six of the nine games have been decided by two-or-fewer goals.

    “Ever since we got in the conference, those games have been really intense,” Flynn said. “I think we’re really looking forward to going there and showing them what we’ve got.”

    One other little fact that adds to the importance of this weekend – these are Air Force’s two games at hand in the battle to beat Rochester Institute of Technology for the regular-season AHA championship.

    The Tigers, riding an 11-game winning streak, do not play a game that counts this weekend, but do have an exhibition Friday night against the U.S. Under-18 team.

    The Falcons trail by two points in the standings and, of course, four points are at stake this weekend.

    “The more you win, the bigger the weekends become,” Air Force coach Frank Serratore said.

    Matt Dorney

  • College Basketball Player of the Year Poll

    Wed, January 28, 2009 by admin with no comments

    Every fall, it seems like there are about 3,794 weekly polls handicapping the Heisman Trophy race. But I never was able to find one for college basketball’s prestigious postseason awards like the Wooden or Naismith.

     

    Until now.

     

    My buddy Mike Rothstein, who covers Notre Dame football and basketball for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, came up with the idea. He’s soliciting informal ballots from members of the media who vote for postseason player of the year awards for a bi-weekly poll.

     

    For the results of his first poll, click here. Some pretty interesting results. And it’ll be cool to see how accurate the poll is come the end of the season.

  • Wednesday Morning Links

    Wed, January 28, 2009 by admin with 2 comments

    As promised, here is a link to my Air Force-Wyoming game story and a link to the notebook written by Lindsey Korsick.

     

    For the view from the other side, the Casper Star-Tribune’s game story is here.

     

    Also, here’s a report from Utah’s overtime victory over BYU from the Salt Lake Tribune. I don’t believe, as some do, that this is the best the Mountain West Conference ever has been. But I do think there’s parity like never before, and we might be in for a heck of a league race and conference tournament.

  • Wyoming Wrap

    Wed, January 28, 2009 by admin with 2 comments

    Like I said in my game story that will appear in tomorrow’s edition of The Gazette, I thought Air Force played one of its best games in recent weeks tonight.

     

    The Falcons had their best overall shooting night since the start of Mountain West Conference play, making 45.3 percent of their shots. They made more assists (11) that turnovers (seven) for the first time since their MWC opener. And they got a breakout game from Andrew Henke (18 points) who averaged just 7.0 points in the Falcons’ first five MWC games.

     

    And, best of all, the Falcons didn’t back down throughout the game, and they played with some emotion. When Henke picked up a charge early in the second half, he pumped both fists and screamed. Good to see that out of these guys.

     

    Still, there were some problems that don’t seem to be going away: Air Force was out-rebounded 34-26. The Falcons made just 5-of-9 free throws. And – most perplexing – they continued to struggle from 3-point range. Take away Henke’s 4-for-8 performance and Air Force was 2-of-12 from beyond the arc.

     

    This might be one of those deals were the Falcons get better but the record doesn’t show it for a while. Especially with UNLV and BYU coming to town.

     

    Other thoughts:

     

    -Prediction: If the Falcons get a victory (or more) in MWC play, Henke and Matt Holland will have big nights. Seems like both will be cold, or when one’s hot, the other isn’t. So far in conference, here’s their scoring breakdown:

     

    San Diego State: Holland 17, Henke 4

    New Mexico: Holland 14, Henke 4

    Utah: Holland 3, Henke 6

    TCU: Holland 9, Henke 12

     

    Colorado State: Holland 25, Henke 9

    Wyoming: Holland 3, Henke 18

    -The Falcons did benefit greatly from a smaller-than-usual and fairly passive Arena-Auditorium crowd. Maybe fans didn’t want to leave home because of the weather (it’s ridiculously cold up here) or the opponent. But bottom line is it wasn’t a very hostile environment.

     

    -Liked the way Taylor Stewart played tonight. He was more aggressive and had nine points, breaking a stretch of four scoreless games. I also thought Shawn Hempsey played well.

     

    -And finally, I used to put in bits and pieces of Troy Calhoun’s press conferences into the blog after football games. I thought I’d include the entire transcript of Jeff Reynolds’ post-game interview with the print media tonight.

     

    Jake Schaller: Do you feel like you guys played one of your better games in recent weeks tonight?

    Jeff Reynolds: Uh, yes.

    JS: First 32 minutes especially, what was going right for you, or what were you doing right?

    JR: Thought we shot the ball better tonight. Thought we played better for about probably 32 minutes. And that’s it.

    Lindsey Korsick: What about the play of your freshmen, especially Taylor Stewart?

    JR: He’s getting better.

    LK: You think he found a rhythm tonight? He seemed to have more minutes.

    JR: You know, he played better, so that got him more minutes.

    JS: Was he more aggressive tonight, coach? It looked like he took the ball to the hole a little bit.

    JR: I thought he was.

    JS: How about Wyoming, coach, 32 minutes you were right with them, punch-for-punch, and then they got a little separation there. What happened there, was it their guys making plays? How would you analyze what happened there?

    JR: We were missing shots we made in the first half.

    JS: I’ve only talked with Drew and Anwar, but it seems like maybe the guys took something out of this positive. Do you feel that way yourself? And, if so, what did you take out of it?

    JR: We’re getting better.

     

    And … scene! Back tomorrow morning with links.