2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Mr. Thompson Goes to Washington

    Fri, February 20, 2009 by admin with 1 comment

    Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson has taken his league’s fight for a more equitable Bowl Championship Series to Capitol Hill.


    Congress is in recess, but Thompson met with the senior staffs of seven members of the House of Representatives on Thursday and was scheduled to talk to Senate staffers Friday.


    Thompson said he hopes to raise awareness about what he views as problems with the current system. He added he will send a proposal for changes to the BCS system to the conference commissioners within the next two weeks after presenting it to the MWC’s board of directors. He would not reveal details of the proposal.


    “We are here (in Washington) on behalf of our member institutions and other member institutions of the BCS and really college football fans in general, and certainly the players that compete at this very high level and who compete to play in the very highest bowls,” Thompson said. “Our proposal is for a more equitable system.”


    The MWC does not receive an automatic bid to the BCS, and its argument for inclusion became much stronger after the 2008 season, when three teams (Utah, TCU and BYU) finished the season ranked. Utah went undefeated, earned an at-large BCS bid and beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. But Thompson was concerned that the Utes, who also went unbeaten in 2004, did not seem to have a true shot to play in the national championship game.


    Thompson, who spoke to reporters on a conference call Friday morning, also revealed the MWC has not signed ESPN’s BCS proposal for 2011-2014, which would keep the MWC as a non-automatic qualifier.


    The MWC hired Arent Fox, a lobbying firm to help navigate the halls on Capitol Hill. Asked if he’s feeling resistance from the current automatic-qualifying BCS conferences, Thompson said, “Certainly, we’re not the most popular kid in the room. I understand that. But we think we’re trying to help college football fans and institute a more equitable system for all of college football.”

  • Baseball Preview

    Fri, February 20, 2009 by admin with 1 comment

    Our preview of Air Force’s 2009 baseball season appeared in today’s edition of the paper. Find it here.


    Big season for the Falcons this year. A bunch of guys back, and not all youngsters. So they need to show some improvement.

  • Thursday Morning Links

    Thu, February 19, 2009 by admin with 7 comments

    Before leaving Fort Worth, here are some links.


    My game story can be found here, and my game notebook is posted below. You can find The Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s game story here.


    Also, Gazette columnist David Ramsey caught up with former Air Force assistant Larry Mangino, who now serves as an assistant for the Denver Nuggets. Mangino had wanted the top job at Air Force when Jeff Bzdelik left for Colorado. Ramsey’s column is a great read. Find it here.


    Finally, I’m interested if readers think Air Force will get a victory before the end of the regular season. Let me know in the comments section.


    AF Notes

    Finally a 3

    Sophomore guard Evan Washington made his first 3-pointer since the start of Mountain West Conference play in the first half. Washington, who released the ball just before the shot clock expired, had missed his previous nine shots and hadn’t hit a shot from beyond the arc since Air Force’s Dec. 31 game against Stony Brook.


    “It did feel good,” Washington said. “The shot clock was going down, I was the last option. I just shot it with confidence.”


    Washington made all four of his shots from the floor and finished with 10 points and a pair of assists in 28 minutes.

    Frogs get hot

    TCU, which during its six-game losing streak had made just 38.6 percent of its shots from the floor, including 26.9 percent from 3-point range, made 52.4 percent of its shots, including 66.7 percent from 3, in the second half Wednesday.


    “They got too many open looks,” Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds said.


    Johnson out of sync

    Senior guard Anwar Johnson scored 12 points but made a team-high four turnovers. “I think that’s not practicing,” Reynolds said of Johnson, who hasn’t practiced since mid-January because of an injured foot. “He’ll have a good game and then he’ll have an out-of-sync game.”



    Freshman guard Brandon Provost scored his first career points on a pair of free throws. … Air Force made more turnovers (14) than assists (12) for the sixth straight game.

  • TCU Wrap

    Thu, February 19, 2009 by admin with no comments

    Air Force couldn’t cash in tonight on a pretty good chance to notch its first Mountain West Conference victory.


    Against a slumping TCU team in an arena that was as far from intimidating as you can get in Division I basketball, the Falcons played poorly and lost, 62-50.


    Not a whole lot to say about this one because many of the same things that hurt the Falcons in previous losses hurt them tonight.


    -Lots of turnovers? Check. Air Force had 14 (against 12 assists), including six in a seven-possessions stretch in the first half. That’s an even 100 turnovers in the last six games (against 64 assists).


    -Scoring droughts? Check. When TCU scored just one basket in more than nine minutes in the first half, the Falcons were unable to build a comfortable lead because during that time they had a stretch of 11 possessions during which they scored just one basket.


    -Defensive breakdowns? Check. Air Force let the Horned Frogs shoot 52.4 percent in the second half, including 66.7 percent from 3-point range.


    Senior guard Anwar Johnson and sophomore guard Evan Washington agreed that Air Force took a step back tonight. Coach Jeff Reynolds said he thought Air Force “took a step” forward.


    “We’re getting better,” he said.


    Other thoughts:


    -Again, barely any production from the freshmen. Brandon Provost got the first points of his career on a pair of late free throws, but the other freshmen who played (Sammy Schafer, Taylor Stewart, Shawn Hempsey and Trevor Noonan) had no points in 34 combined minutes.


    -Thought Washington had a nice game. He went 4-for-4 from the field and had 10 points and a pair of assists.


    He also made his first 3 in 12 MWC games. It came just before the shot clock expired when he had no choice but to shoot it. I thought that was telling.


    When Washington didn’t have time to think about the shot – or if he should pass or drive or get rid of the ball – he just threw it up there in rhythm.


    “It was just like shooting in drills,” he said.


    And that makes me think his shooting woes are tied directly to confidence. He’s thinking too much out there.


    Reynolds praised Washington’s recent play: “He’s more aggressive, and he’s played well defensively,” Reynolds said.


    -I wonder if Jim Christian is questioning his decision to take over the TCU program. Christian, who had great success prior to coming to Fort Worth, most recently at Kent State, has a mighty challenge in front of him.


    TCU is a football school first – as are all Texas schools (note the girls on the dance team wore football jerseys tonight as their uniforms, not basketball jerseys). But it’s going to take him a while, it seems, to “change the culture,” as is his goal.


    That was as bad a college basketball crowd (in terms of attendance and involvement) as I’ve seen in a long time.


    TCU announced the crowd at 3,519. Um. OK. I think I’d tend to disagree with that count. Maybe they were counting each individual eye that witnessed the game. Back tomorrow morning with links.

  • FINAL: TCU 62, Air Force 50

    Wed, February 18, 2009 by admin with 2 comments

    At times during Air Force’s dismal and ever-growing losing streak, the Falcons at least have appeared to be getting better.


    Wednesday night at TCU was not one of those times.


    A reeling Horned Frogs squad that had lost six straight played better but hardly was unbeatable. The Falcons, however, did plenty to beat themselves in a 62-50 loss.


    Air Force, which fell to 9-16 and 0-12 in Mountain West Conference play, made 14 turnovers, missed a handful of layups – some of which were uncontested – and gave up 40 points in the second half.


    Air Force now has lost 13 games in a row and 14 of its last 15. The Falcons need to beat Colorado State on Saturday to avoid matching the longest losing streak in program history, which took place during the 1993-94 season.


    For the third game in a row and fifth time in league play, Air Force took a lead into halftime.

  • Halftime: Air Force 23, TCU 22

    Wed, February 18, 2009 by admin with no comments

    Will the third time be a charm?


    Air Force, in search of its first Mountain West Conference victory, has a halftime lead for the third straight game, having taken a 23-22 advantage over TCU into the locker room after one half at the Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.


    It wasn’t pretty.


    The Falcons committed nine turnovers, while TCU clanked its way through a 7-for-20 shooting performance from the floor (including 2-of-11 from 3-point range).


    TCU led 10-8 after a basket by Zvonko Buljan with 13:27 left, but the Horned Frogs then scored just two points in 9 minute 16 second stretch. Air Force built a 17-12 lead but then turned the ball over on six of seven possessions as TCU went back ahead, 18-17.


    Evan Washington, who hit his first 3-pointer in Mountain West Conference play, leads Air Force with seven points. Buljan has 12 to lead all scorers.

  • 40 Minutes to Tip

    Wed, February 18, 2009 by admin with no comments

    Greetings from Daniel-Meyer Coliseum on the TCU campus. Air Force and the Horned Frogs are warming up. About 20 people in the stands right now. And I’ve been told not to expect a packed house.


    Air Force faces a Horned Frogs team that has lost six in a row. It’s the start of a three-game stretch in which Air Force plays the teams in sixth through eighth place in the Mountain West Conference.


    I asked freshman center Sammy Schafer on Monday if he felt like this is a stretch where the Falcons can have a breakthrough.


    “Absolutely,” Schafer said. “I feel that way before every game – that we’re going to win. And that we’re going to be successful in our next round of games. But especially now coming into these games, I didn’t know TCU was struggling, but it’s not necessarily what they’re going to doing, but I’ve been feeling our team coming on, and it seems like we’re clicking. … It looks like we’re going in the right direction towards a win.”

  • Some Hoops Notes and Info on Two More Football Recruits

    Wed, February 18, 2009 by admin with no comments

    First the hoops stuff:


    -I made a mistake in the sidebar that went along with my numbers story. I indicated that Tom Fow wore No. 42 in high school and No. 23 for the prep school, and he wanted No. 23 at Air Force.


    Nope. He didn’t go to the prep school. He wore No. 23 for his AAU team. And playing for that AAU team is how he got noticed by Air Force, which is why he wanted the number at the academy. Sorry about that.


    -Looks like the same starting lineup tonight as Air Force had against Utah (Guards Anwar Johnson and Shawn Hempsey, forwards Matt Holland and Taylor Stewart and center Sammy Schafer).


    -Hunter Myers made the trip to TCU in place of Jon Atkins. It’s Myers’ first trip. He hasn’t played since his freshman season. …


    Also, I wanted to pass along some information on two more football recruits who I neglected to mention on National Signing Day – Kevin Jackson and Caleb Knights, both quarterbacks out of the Columbus, Ohio area.


    Jackson, of Dublin Jerome High, started as a freshman and led the Celtics to the playoffs last year, completing 144 of 290 passes for 1,824 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushing for 250 yards and four touchdowns. In his career he threw for 3,475 yards and 20 touchdowns and rushed for 1,141 yards and 14 touchdowns.

    You can see highlights of Jackson here.


    Knights is Chillicothe High’s all-time leading passer, throwing for more than 5,000 yards in his career.


    You can see highlights of Knights here.

  • Game Day Thoughts, Links and 3 Things to Watch

    Wed, February 18, 2009 by admin with 1 comment

    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.




    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.



    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.”



    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.

  • Tuesday Morning Links

    Tue, February 17, 2009 by admin with no comments

    If you haven’t already seen it, make sure you take a look at David Ramsey’s column on Brian Scheller that appeared in today’s edition of The Gazette. You can find it here. Scheller was a standout player at the prep school but had to give up playing because of knee problems.


    Ramsey also periodically weighs in on the Falcons on his blog. His most recent post deals with former Air Force hoops coach Jeff Bzdelik’s struggles at CU.


    Finally, there was a column that appeared in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Sunday that deals with TCU’s current struggles in trying to turn around its program. The Horned Frogs, who play host to Air Force tomorrow night at 6, have lost six straight. Find that column here.