When Grant Parker was a freshman, Air Force won 26 games and reached the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament. The Falcons, for a time, were ranked No. 11 in the coaches’ Top 25.
Now, just three years later, Air Force will finish in the Mountain West Conference cellar for the second season in a row.
Could anyone have imagined such a drastic fall from grace? Parker certainly couldn’t have.
“No,” he said. “You don’t really picture that happening. But at the same time, stuff happens and you’ve just got to try to move on and look to the (Mountain West Conference) tournament, I guess. It’s really tough because we’ve played really well at times this season, but collectively, overall, we haven’t really played as well as we would have liked.”
Air Force ended last season with a smidge of a positive feeling, staying close in games at UNLV and BYU and then beating Colorado State in the MWC Tournament play-in game before finishing the season with a noble loss to the Cougars in the tournament quarterfinals.
The Falcons will need a major turnaround in Saturday’s regular season finale and the MWC Tournament to take any positive feeling into this offseason. Because right now, the Falcons don’t seem to be getting any better.
-Air Force pulled to within one point of Wyoming – 48-47 – after Tom Fow hit a jumper and then Evan Washington hit a 3-pointer with 2:40 to play.
But things unraveled after that.
So I asked Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds after the game how disappointed he was that his team didn’t execute so well on the possessions after Washington’s 3.
“Well, what do you call, ‘not executing?’” he asked.
Here were Air Force’s three possessions after Washington’s 3-pointer: Forced, air-balled 3-pointer as the shot clock was about to expire. Turnover. Turnover. I’d call that not executing.
“We missed two layups, too,” Reynolds said.
I told him I was talking about the three possessions following Washington’s 3.
“Well, we wouldn’t have been in that situation if we’d made those shots prior,” Reynolds said. “And that’s frustrating.”
-Air Force out-rebounded the Cowboys, 28-25. It was the first time in conference play the Falcons out-rebounded an opponent.
-Freshman Michael Lyons continues to struggle from 3-point range. He missed all four of his attempts from beyond the 3-point arc and is now 1-for-16 from 3 in his last four games. Lyons also had five turnovers in 36 minutes tonight.
-Shawn Hempsey started six games last season and played in 12 others. But he has barely sniffed the floor lately. He logged his sixth DNP-Coach’s Decision in MWC play on Tuesday night.