Ten days from today we’ll know if Air Force is on its way to an 0-16 Mountain West Conference season.
Because if the Falcons haven’t won a game by then they’ll be 0-14. And a win in either of their final two games – at UNLV and at BYU – would be a monumental upset.
But I think Air Force has a shot in its next three. Tonight it plays a reeling TCU squad (which beat the Falcons by just three in the teams’ first meeting) before returning home for back-to-back games against the eighth- and seventh-place teams in the league – Colorado State and Wyoming.
Asked how important it would be to get a victory, Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds said, “I think it would be significant, I really do. For next year. For the next game. We haven’t really talked much about the (MWC) tournament, but even for the tournament.”
One interesting point to consider that was brought to my attention by Gazette columnist David Ramsey when we were discussing the Falcons Sunday night: How will the Falcons deal with some additional pressure?
And there will be additional pressure these next three games. Air Force’s players are basketball fans in addition to players. They know the landscape of the rest of the league. They know their next three games come against the only other three teams in the MWC with losing records in league play. They know these are their best shots at a regular season victory.
So after playing a string of games in which they were double-digit underdogs and expected to be routed, how will they react in games that people believe they have a chance to win?
That will be interesting to watch. …
I wrote about jersey numbers in today’s edition of The Gazette (find the story here). For an explanation for how Air Force’s players came to select their jerseys, click here. For a lot of good information on TCU, check out this article from The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. And finally, my 3 Things to Watch in the game didn’t make it to Gazette.com, so I put them below.
AIR FORCE at TCU – 3 THINGS TO WATCH
1. WHO MAKES SHOTS
Sounds absurdly simple. But both teams’ struggles in Mountain West Conference play have been directly related to poor shooting. The Horned Frogs made 50.7 percent of their shots, including 37.8 percent from 3-point range, in starting 4-1 in the MWC. But since then those percentages have dropped to 38.6 and 26.9, respectively, as they’ve lost six straight. Air Force, meanwhile, has played better in its last two games, and it has shot 50 percent or better in both.
2. KILLER DROUGHTS
Air Force went 10 possessions without a basket early in the second half against Utah on Saturday and 10 possessions without a point in the first half against New Mexico last week. TCU also has struggled with poor stretches during its six-game losing streak. “We’re kind of battling the same battle,” TCU coach Jim Christian said. “There are stretches of games where they look fantastic, and then there are stretches of games where they don’t play as well as they would like.”
3. CAN A YOUNGSTER LEND A HAND?
In Air Force’s last two games its three seniors (Anwar Johnson, Matt Holland and Andrew Henke) and junior Grant Parker have scored 113 of the Falcons’ 125 points. Five freshmen and sophomore Evan Washington played a combined 143 minutes in those two games and contributed eight points.
Quote to Note: “Playing hard isn’t enough in this league. Everybody plays hard. You have to play well, and we haven’t been able to do that. And until you play 40 minutes well, it’s hard to get out of a rut like this.” –TCU coach Jim Christian, whose team has lost six in a row.
Note to Quote: Five of TCU’s losses during its current six-game skid have come against the top five teams in the league – Utah, San Diego State, BYU, New Mexico and UNLV. “The reason they’re struggling is look at their schedule,” Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds said.