• Utah 54, Air Force 43 – Rapid Reaction

    Thu, February 25, 2010 by admin with no comments

    I posed the following question this morning on the blog:

    Was the Air Force men’s basketball team’s performance in a 59-56 loss at New Mexico on Saturday truly a step in the right direction or just a one-game anomaly?

    Looks a lot like the latter after tonight’s contest.

    Some of the problems that have plagued Air Force throughout the season were problems again tonight. For instance:

    -3-point shooting: Air Force went 2-of-17, including 0-of-6 in the second half.

    -Free throw shooting: Air Force went 5-of-12. Really?

    -Rebounding: While this is somewhat excusable, considering the Utes’ overall size, a 30-18 deficit on the boards never is good.

    -Defense: “We came out in the second half knowing what they were going to do and wasn’t able to defend it,” Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds said.

    “I thought we didn’t make some mature decisions defensively on our closeouts. And then we didn’t rotate over and help on the drives.”

    Something else that stood out to me: This team – maybe because of all the losing – doesn’t have a killer instinct.

    The Falcons totally controlled a first half in which Utah was dreadful, making nine turnovers and appearing totally confused by Air Force’s defense. But when the teams went to halftime, they were tied at 19. For as seemingly well as the Falcons played (and as poorly as the Utes played), they had no lead to show for it.

    Other notes:
    -Air Force seemed to lack some urgency late in the game. Down about 10 with less than five minutes to play, the Falcons mostly sat back and allowed the Utes to bleed time off the clock before attempting to score.

    So I asked Reynolds after the game if he thought Air Force was too passive defensively in the closing few minutes, eschewing a pressing style.

    “We extended our defense in the half court, and we had told them who to foul in the huddle,” Reynolds said. “We didn’t want to intentionally foul, and they did a nice job of keeping the ball away from their poor free throw shooters. Maybe we should have extended our press a little bit more when it was around three minutes.”

    -Yes, the officials blew the call on Mike McLain that negated the Evan Washington dunk that would have cut Utah’s lead to two with 10:55 left. Yes, it was a momentum-swinging call. No, it doesn’t excuse Utah following it with a 13-2 run

    -Between the incredibly slow pace of the game and all the empty seats, there was a weird atmosphere at Clune tonight.

  • Wednesday Morning Links

    Wed, February 24, 2010 by admin with no comments

    So was the Air Force men’s basketball team’s performance in a 59-56 loss at New Mexico on Saturday truly a step in the right direction or just a one-game anomaly?

    We’ll have a lot better idea about the answer to that question after tonight, when the Falcons play host to Utah. The Utes are vulnerable, having lost five of seven, with a rebuilt team that includes one of the most fun players in the league to watch, freshman guard Marshall Henderson.

    Also, here are my 3 Things to Watch in the game.

    Finally, The Deseret Morning News writes that Air Force must be considered a dangerous opponent after its performance at New Mexico. And The Salt Lake Tribune writes that Utah is trying to prepare for the Mountain West Conference Tournament and improve its seed.

  • Hockey: Hopeful sign for Falcons

    Tue, February 23, 2010 by admin with no comments

    Taken from a U.S. College Hockey Online forum about RIT’s games with Canisius, which is tied with Air Force for fourth and for the last available playoff spot with home ice …

    I don’t know if folks at Saturday’s game notice a rather extended conversation between Coach Wilson and Air Force’s coach Frank Serratore as they shook hands and exited the ice post-game.

    We asked Wayne about that in our post game, and he said that the gist of his answer was “we’ll try and take some points from Canisius to help you out.”

    So I think RIT will keep their foot down on the gas.

    __________________
    Scott Biggar
    Staff Writer – US College Hockey Online
  • Tuesday Morning Links

    Tue, February 23, 2010 by admin with no comments

    A basketball notebook with a last look at the New Mexico game and updates on Sammy Schafer, Taylor Broekhuis and Tom Fow now is available, on-line only.

    Also, Gazette columnist David Ramsey asked Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds about the people who had criticized the Falcons and, perhaps, inspired them to play well against the Lobos. He has a transcript of their exchange on his blog: http://daveramseysez.freedomblogging.com/.

    Air Force faces Utah tomorrow night at Clune Arena. The Utes seem vulnerable, having lost five of their last seven games. Utah coach Jim Boylen, however, believes his team is improving, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

  • End of the Shot Clock Troubles

    Mon, February 22, 2010 by admin with no comments

    As I noted in a couple of earlier posts, Air Force has had a problem throughout the season with finding good shots as the shot clock is about to expire.

    It happened a bunch at New Mexico. In the first half there was a pair of shot-clock violations and a pair of forced, rushed shots as the clock was about to expire. Two other times Avery Merriex traveled with less than five seconds on the clock.

    That’s bad. But on the flip side, Air Force did a really good job of slowing down the tempo against the Lobos by taking possessions deep into the shot clock. And that’s one of the reasons the game was so close.

    So I asked coach Jeff Reynolds today how his team can bleed the shot clock but still be able to get a good shot before it expires. Here was his response:

    “It’s something that we work on every day, called 12-second offense. It comes down to kids having shot-clock awareness and being able to be in a position to, within the offense, either get some penetration and get a guy open off a pass or maybe get to the rim.

    “And as crazy as this sounds, those three shot-clock violations (against New Mexico) were best turnovers we’ve had all year. Because even though we didn’t score, and even though we didn’t make a shot, and even though we didn’t get a shot off, we controlled the tempo. And we told them, ‘We do not today want any live-ball turnovers. We want dead-ball turnovers.’ So now the shot clock goes off, whereas if you shoot an errant shot and you miss it, because it’s highly contested, now they get the rebound and , wham, they’re going. Where now the shot clock does go off, they gotta inbound the ball. And now you get to set your defense. It’s not something that we wanted – not to get a shot off – but we didn’t complain to the kids about, ‘Hey, we’ve got to get a shot.’

    “Now, is that something we’ve got to get better at? Yes it is, absolutely.”

  • Monday Morning Links

    Mon, February 22, 2010 by admin with no comments

    Air Force senior forward/center Grant Parker believes the Falcons’ close loss to New Mexico on Saturday proved his team “can compete with anybody.”

    Gazette columnist David Ramsey wrote about the New Mexico game, what he calls “a great loss,” in his blog: http://daveramseysez.freedomblogging.com/.

    By the way, in my “Rapid Reaction” to Saturday’s game, I mentioned the problems the Falcons have at the end of the shot clock (scroll down to see the “Rapid Reaction” post).

    I wasn’t the only one who noticed.

    In his game story in Sunday’s Albuquerque Journal, Mark Smith – an excellent basketball writer – also pointed to the Falcons’ problems late in the shot clock.

    “The Falcons kept hanging around. And if they had taken a few more shots, instead of focusing so much on the shot clock that a half-dozen possessions ended with turnovers or desperation heaves, they could have been even closer than their 28-22 deficit at the half.

  • Sunday Morning Links

    Sun, February 21, 2010 by admin with no comments

    Air Force played its best game of the 2009-10 season on Saturday afternoon. And lost, 59-56, to No. 12 New Mexico.

    Sophomore guard/forward Taylor Stewart saw his first action, while junior forward Tom Fow didn’t play too much.

    Switching to ice hockey, Air Force fell, 3-0, to RIT Saturday night. The Falcons are winless in their last six games.

  • New Mexico 59, Air Force 56 – Rapid Reaction

    Sat, February 20, 2010 by admin with 4 comments

    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.

  • Saturday Morning Links

    Sat, February 20, 2010 by admin with no comments

    The Air Force men’s basketball team faces New Mexico today at The Pit and tries to avoid another embarrassment. (My 3 Things to Watch in the game are at the bottom of the article).

    Just staying close with New Mexico will be a tall task for the Falcons, who are coming off a 43-point loss to BYU a week ago. The Lobos are ranked No. 12 in the country and have won 10 games in a row.

    Switching to ice hockey, Air Force fell to RIT, 3-2 in overtime last night. RIT cliniched the Atlantic Hockey Association regular season title with the victory.

  • Ramsey on DU, Joe Scott

    Fri, February 19, 2010 by admin with no comments

    Gazette columnist David Ramsey checks in on Denver men’s basketball and its coach, former Air Force coach Joe Scott, on his blog: http://daveramseysez.freedomblogging.com.