2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Pregame thoughts: Air Force no longer a young basketball team

Published: January 4, 2014, 7:42 pm, by Brent Briggeman

The narrative of this Air Force basketball season has changed in a move that sort of snuck up on everyone.

The story through this campaign had been one of transition and youth. At many times during the nonconference schedule the Falcons would be forced to play as many as three freshmen at a time. Five seniors were lost from last year and this team, at times, looked lost in finding ways to replace them.

That’s no longer the case. Junior Justin Hammonds returned to the team and instantly became a starter, bringing some stability. Junior Kamryn Williams them came back from his hamstring injury and junior DeLovell Earls played 25 minutes in the Falcons most recent game.

In that game, a 73-72 upset of Utah State, the Falcons went with an eight-man rotation that included just one sophomore (Tre’ Coggins – hardly a newcomer as he is the team’s leading scorer and he saw action in all but a few games last year) and one freshmen (Zach Kocur – who scored five key points in 11 minutes).

No team that plays just one sophomore and one freshman can claim to be young, not that Air Force is making that claim. And the issues of inexperience are quickly vanishing as well, since Marek Olesinski and Max Yon have seen valuable minutes over several seasons.

So, what’s the new narrative? Does there have to be one? Now it seems this season will simply be about finding out how good this group is, how much development freshmen like Hayden Graham and Darrius Parker can show in what will apparently be spot duty and finding out if that win over the Aggies was a one-time occurrence or a sign of things to come.