Rapid Reaction – Utah 71, Air Force 54

Published: January 23, 2010, 9:33 pm, by admin

Grant Parker returned to the Air Force lineup today after missing 10 games.

That will be helpful to the team.

It also will be helpful to observers of the team.

Over the next couple weeks, we’ll start getting a better idea about this Air Force basketball program and what strides – if any – it has made since last season’s debacle.

It was difficult – and not exactly fair – to judge the Falcons when they had several opening night starters, including their leading scorer, out with injuries.

With Parker’s return – and, granted, he’s not yet 100 percent – Air Force now is without only center Sammy Schafer and guard/forward Taylor Stewart.

That’s not ideal, of course, and – granted – it will take a few games for the Falcons to get used to having Parker back in the rotation.

But the silver lining of the injuries is they’ve allowed some of Air Force’s younger players to get valuable experience. So it’s reasonable to expect the Falcons to improve over the next 11 conference games.

Other Notes

-So far, this conference season feels a lot like last conference season. Air Force looks competitive in stretches but eventually loses big.

The Falcons’ first five conference losses last season came by a total of 77 points. Their first five conference losses this season have come by a total of 89.

-Utah has quite a player in freshman guard Marshall Henderson. Today he made 6-of-11 shots from the floor (including 4-of-8 3-pointers) en route to a game-high 22 points.

More than anything, though, I was impressed by his moxie (he didn’t act like a freshman) and his court sense. He just seemed to float to the right place all the time, both on offense and defense.

-Take away the shooting performances of Michael Lyons (4-of-5) and Evan Washington (3-of-5), and Air Force was 10-of-32 from the floor tonight.

-A bright spot: Air Force made 17-of-21 free throws. That’s the Falcons’ third-best outing this season and their best when attempting more than 13.