At 6:24 p.m. on Saturday, more than two hours after Air Force’s loss to UNLV, Marek Olesinski walked back onto the floor at Clune Arena to shoot.
Olesinski had a miserable day on Saturday. The Falcons’ starting center went scoreless, going 0 for 4 from the field, including 0 for 3 from 3-point range. He grabbed just one rebound, had one turnover and one assist. He played just 17 minutes as he was pulled late for passing up an open shot.
“That’s why we took him out,” coach Dave Pilipovich said. “He said he didn’t shoot it because he was a little off balance, but it was his confidence.”
Olesinski, who is averaging 11.2 points, has reached double figures in just one of this past six games. When he’s not a major factor in the offense, Air Force is not the same team.
On Saturday evening, Olesinski could have found other ways to spend his time or release his frustrations. Rather than vent or escape, he instead opted to return to the floor in an empty arena and try to fix those problems.
Air Force players and coaches had plenty to say after a 93-67 blowout loss that might lead you to believe this season was in the tank. Pilipovich talked about players complaining of dead legs and a lack of enthusiasm. Freshman Zach Kocur spoke of a lack of a sense of urgency. Junior Kamryn Williams spoke of a need for better team chemistry and worried that the team tended to spend its time in small groups instead of as a whole.
These issues are never mentioned after victories. But, to get those victories, Air Force is going to have to score more points. To score more points, there has to be more help from Olesinski.
The fact that he obviously recognizes that should provide some hope that this season isn’t quite finished for Air Force.