2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Thoughts before Air Force’s MW Tournament opener

Published: March 12, 2014, 3:56 pm, by Brent Briggeman

Fresno State is as hot as anyone in the Mountain West, but the guard-dominated team may not be a terrible matchup for Air Force.

The Falcons are rarely torched from the outside, which is where the Bulldogs get most of their points behind three guards (Tyler Johnson, Cezar Guerrero and Marvelle Harris — the team’s top three scorers).

This certainly isn’t the team Fresno State figured to have after also heating up at the end of last season. That team stomped Air Force late in the season on the strength of its young post players, most notably 7-footer Robert Upshaw (a top-50 recruit) who has since been dismissed from the team and Kansas transfer Braeden Anderson, who has been sidelined this year after a September auto accident.

It says a lot about this team and its development that it can reinvent itself on the fly and after a rough stretch where it lost 10 of 12, still be good enough to win 8 of 10 down the stretch.

“It’s a team on the rise in the conference,” Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich said.


Green light?

As bad as Air Force has shot of late – failing to shoot better than 42.3 percent in a game since January – Pilipovich refused to rescind the green-light order he issued two weeks ago.

The green light was an effort to speed up the offense, launch more shots and hopefully get his team thinking and questioning itself a bit less.

Analyzing the game against BoiseState, Pilipovich saw that the offense worked far better when it took its time, reversed the ball a few times and allowed its motion offense to create easier shots.

Still, Pilipovich is sticking with the green light.

“Green light is still there if you’[re open,” he said. “We didn’t turn it to yellow, didn’t turn it to red; it’s still there.”

Return to Thomas & Mack

Air Force’s most surprising victory of the season came at UNLV on Jan. 4.

The Mountain West Tournament marks the Falcons’ return to the Thomas & Mack Center, and this time it won’t face the hostile home crowd.

“The last time we walked out we were feeling pretty good, we were coinfident and we won. I think it helps the phsyche that we won there.


Coggins only freshman or sophomore honored

When the Mountain West released its first-, second- and third-team selections on Monday, Air Force sophomore guard Tre’ Coggins was the only non junior or senior on it.

Coggins was a third-team selection.

“That’s a great accomplishment not only for him but for our entire team,” Pilipovich said.


Long makes the trip

Assistant coach Drew Long traveled with Air Force to Las Vegas, the first trip Long has made since the All-Military Classic in early November.

Shortly after that trip. Long was diagnosed with colorectal cancer and spent more than a month in his native Houston receiving treatment.