2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

New Mexico 59, Air Force 56 – Rapid Reaction

Published: February 20, 2010, 7:56 pm, by admin

Talk to players and coaches after a close loss and you’ll typically hear them say they don’t believe in moral victories.

I get it. There shouldn’t be any such thing.

This was a moral victory for Air Force.

After getting humiliated last week at BYU in a 43-point loss – the third-worst in program history – the Falcons peeled themselves off the concrete (albeit with an entire week to practice) and came to play this afternoon.

At The Pit, arguably the toughest venue in the league (and perhaps beyond), the Falcons took the No. 12 team in the nation, one that carried a 10-game winning streak into the contest, down to the wire.

Senior forward/center Grant Parker told me earlier this week that last week’s loss to BYU was a wake-up call. Parker always is honest and open, so I had no reason to believe he was just talking in clichés. But in addition to wondering why a team would need a wake-up call three-quarters of the way through the season, I also wondered if the Falcons would heed said wake-up call.

They did.

And that’s great.

More important is whether they’ll build on what happened today.

Other Notes:
-Something that’s been a problem all season was evident once again on Saturday afternoon:

Too many times – way too many times – Air Force appeared rattled and unprepared to make a play as the shot clock wound down.

In the first half, Air Force committed a pair of shot clock violations (the clock expired with the ball in a player’s hands) and forced a pair of contested, rushed shots as the clock was about to expire (a 3-pointer by Derek Brooks and a mid-range jumper by Taylor Stewart). Two other times Avery Merriex travelled with less than five seconds on the clock.

And on Air Force’s last possession of the first half, the Falcons basically did nothing until the clock was under :10 and then cleared out for Evan Washington. (He drove and missed a pull-up jumper just before the buzzer.)

In the second half I counted four more forced shots just before the shot clock expired. And I wasn’t counting “good” shots that were taken in rhythm off good passes.

Now, I understand that Air Force wants to use a lot of the shot clock to shorten games – and that’s the right strategy for a team as offensively challenged as the Falcons.

But there has to be better recognition of the time on the clock so that there’s a better play than force-it-up-before-the-buzzer.

-If you love college basketball, you had to love this afternoon’s game.

It’s pretty easy to get cynical when you watch games for a living. But I gotta admit the hair on the back of my neck was standing up in the last minute.

-Sign in the Lobo student section “Curling more exciting than AFA basketball.”

I watched some curling the other day. And I have to say … give me about four or five days on the ice, and I think I could make a run at the Olympic team. After years upon years of playing shuffleboard in dimly-lit bars, curling doesn’t seem like it’d be that tough.

-Speaking of the student section, the crowd in general was fantastic at The Pit. It lifted a struggling team and always seemed to crescendo at the right moments. Reminded me of when Clune Arena was alive.

-One travel note:

Is there any way we can stop flight attendants from saying, “This is the last and final call for flight …. ?”

Is it confusing to just leave it at the “last call?” Or “final call?”

I mean, when they get ready to stop serving drinks at my bar up the street, they announce that it’s “last call for alcohol.” Folks seem to be able to figure that out. And most of them are drunk.

Were people missing flights because they figured, “Well, it’s the final boarding call for my flight. But I don’t think it’s the last call for it. I’ll head back to the concourse and buy a $4 bottle of water and a book for twice as much as I could buy it for at a bookstore outside the airport. I’m not going to the gate until it’s the last and final call for boarding.”

I don’t think that happened. Otherwise, Regis Philbin would ask for a contestant’s “last and final answer.” Right?

Thanks for listening.