• Thursday Morning Links

    Thu, March 11, 2010 by admin with no comments

    Air Force lived to play another day by beating Wyoming, 59-40, in yesterday’s Mountain West Conference Tournament play-in game. The Falcons got a terrific performance from freshman guard Michael Lyons. And they got a game-high 15 points from senior forward/center Grant Parker. Gazette columnist David Ramsey praised Parker’s play, and the class he’s shown all season, in his blog: http://daveramseysez.freedomblogging.com.

    With the victory, Air Force advanced to the quarterfinals. In a little less than an hour, they’ll face top-seeded New Mexico, the nation’s eighth-ranked team. Here are my 3 Things to Watch in the game.

    Also, Air Force’s ice hockey team begins its playoff run tomorrow night against Army. Gazette hockey writer Joe Paisley has 3 Things to Watch in the best-of-three American Hockey Association quarterfinal series.

  • Monday Morning Links

    Mon, March 8, 2010 by admin with 2 comments

    Air Force football will lose three-year starting strong safety Chris Thomas to graduation. But the secondary still has a chance to be really, really good. Read about it – and potential replacements for Thomas – here.

    By the way, one thing I didn’t get in the article was that one potential replacement for Thomas – rising junior Phil Ofili – ran a 4.36 40-yard dash last spring. That’s moving. Although I liked what Ofili said when I asked him about the time:

    “That’s moving, but I’m a firm believer that there’s speed and there’s game speed. I’m trying to work on playing at that game-speed level, because I feel like I’ve kind of struggled with that sometimes – playing at top speed the whole time.”

    Moving to ice hockey, Air Force is hoping to ride the momentum from its sweep of Sacred Heart the weekend before last into this weekend’s Atlantic Hockey Association quarterfinal series against Army.

    One basketball note, the All-Mountain West Conference teams will be revealed this afternoon at 2 (see my ballot, two posts below). I’ll have the teams up on this here blog as soon as they’re announced.

    Finally, this has nothing to do with Air Force, but make a point to check out David Ramsey’s outstanding story on a Colorado Springs basketball legend – the late Sherlock Holmes. Yes, his name really was Sherlock Holmes. It’s a fantastic read, and I highly recommend it, especially if you’re a long-time Springs resident.

  • Friday Morning Links

    Fri, March 5, 2010 by admin with no comments

    I wrote for today’s edition of The Gazette about cornerback Reggie Rembert and how he’s having a much more free and easy spring than he did a year ago. And Gazette columnist David Ramsey wrote about quarterback Connor Dietz, and the improvements he’s made, in his blog: http://daveramseysez.freedomblogging.com.

    Coming in the next couple days: A look at the secondary in general. Who will replace Chris Thomas? And how good could this group be?

    Moving to hoops, it’s a pretty good year for freshmen in the Mountain West Conference. Five are among the top 15 scorers in the league: San Diego State’s Kawhi Leonard (eighth with 12.4 points per game), Colorado State’s Dorian Green (11th, 12.0), Utah’s Marshall Henderson (13th, 11.8), BYU’s Tyler Haws (14th, 11.7) and Wyoming’s Desmar Jackson (15th, 11.3). Here’s an article about Green from The Denver Post.

  • Jake’s and David’s Arguments – The Alford-Tavernari Incident, Part 3

    Wed, March 3, 2010 by admin with 4 comments

    This is Part 3 of an exchange between Jake Schaller and columnist David Ramsey. For Part 1, check the post below. Parts 2 and 4 are in Ramsey’s blog: http://daveramseysez.freedomblogging.com.

    Ramsey, I can only imagine the language you heard when you were covering the Big East. But I also seem to remember some fairly colorful expressions being directed at you and Denver Post writer Irv Moss near the end of an Air Force practice in 2007 when Jeff Bzdelik morphed into Jeff Bleep-delik.

    Anyhow, this is a classic example of someone getting caught (on tape) for something that probably happens multiple times during a season and goes unreported.

    Alford and Tavernari reportedly made up (when Tavernari went to the New Mexico locker room to apologize), and that was the right thing for them to do.

    But at the same time, as a fan, how much better would it be if they hadn’t? My interest in a potential New Mexico-BYU conference tournament final would have jumped about 1,000 percent.

    This is why I always say my favorite sport to cover was boxing. Nearly all the pro boxers I covered had zero filter when it came to talking to the media about their opponents. They would tell you if they didn’t like who they were going to fight. They would tell you if they thought their opponent was a punk. They would tell you (sometimes in graphic detail) about the beat-down they had planned.

    Here’s an excerpt from a story I wrote about Ricardo Mayorga – one of boxing’s bad boys (which, granted, is like saying someone is one of a beauty contest’s pretty people). It appeared in the Sept. 29, 2004 issue of The Washington Post, shortly before Mayorga’s bout with Felix “Tito” Trinidad.

    Mayorga arrived at New York’s LaGuardia Airport last weekend with his hair dyed bright red and a shirt that had the date of Saturday’s fight with the message, “Tito’s Retirement Celebration. Time to hang them up.” And he bragged about a reported $100,000 bet he made with the 31-year-old Trinidad on their fight.

    “It’s a real bet,” Mayorga said. “It’s not putting any sort of pressure on me. In fact, I’m going to make sure he pays me after the fight. With that money I’m going to buy myself a limousine, maybe two, in Nicaragua and name it Tito, so that everyone remembers when I knocked out Tito.”

    Later, Mayorga predicted a knockout between rounds three and five. “I really don’t want to cause the Trinidad family any more grief,” he said.

    (By the way, Trinidad dominated the fight, which was stopped in the eighth round).

    Anyhow, what I’m saying is that Mountain West basketball could use a dash of boxing. Or at least some of the genuine dislike that permeated the Celtics-Pistons games of the late 1980s.

    No, I’m not advocating players (or coaches) throwing punches or violence of any kind. And you don’t want people calling each other out and talking trash non-stop. But it’s OK for teams not to like each other. That makes everything more fun.

  • Jake’s and David’s Arguments – The Alford-Tavernari Incident, Part 1

    Wed, March 3, 2010 by admin with no comments

    Following New Mexico’s down-to-the-wire victory over BYU on Saturday, Lobos coach Steve Alford was caught on tape calling BYU forward Jonathan Tavernari a bad word (see the dust-up here, but be warned you’ll hear a seven-letter expletive from Alford).

    Alford’s actions earned a reprimand from the Mountain West Conference but also opened the door for another installment of “Jake’s and David’s Arguments,” where Gazette columnist David Ramsey and I go back and forth about an event or issue.

    My first take on this incident: No matter what Tavernari (who specializes in getting under the skin of his opponents) did to provoke Alford, the New Mexico coach should have known not to react like he did – at least in today’s everyone-has-a-camera-and-everything-goes-on-YouTube-immediately society.

    He was wrong, and the MWC was right in reprimanding him.

    And one other thing about the incident: I loved it.

    If you want to roll your eyes, just listen to one of the MWC teleconferences with the coaches and ask them about another team or player. Every coach will tell you that every other coach does a “great job” and that every other team is “a really tough matchup.” It’s a gooey PC-fest.

    Case in point: BYU coach Dave Rose said the following: “I thought that Air Force was really good, and we were a little bit better.” … When talking about the Cougars’ 43-point victory over the Falcons.

    Sports are more fun when you have bad blood and rivalries and villains.

    So while you can’t condone what happened between Tavernari and Alford … it makes things a lot more interesting for the fans.

    What do you think, Ramsey? (Ramsey’s response will be on his blog: http://daveramseysez.freedomblogging.com).

  • Monday Morning Links

    Mon, March 1, 2010 by admin with 1 comment

    March begins today, and the Air Force football team already has held six “spring” practices.

    To date, sophomore quarterback Tim Jefferson has been unable to participate in spring drills because he is recovering from surgery on his right knee. So the Falcons won’t settle on a starter until August.

    Gazette columnist David Ramsey, however, writes in his blog (http://daveramseysez.freedomblogging.com) that Jefferson, who started 10 of 13 games last season and was the 2008 Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year, deserves a vote of confidence from Air Force coach Troy Calhoun.

    With Jeffersoun out, sophomore Connor Dietz, who started three games last season, is taking snaps with the Falcons’ starters. Dietz has made huge strides since last year’s spring drills, when he was a new face on the Falcons’ varsity.

    “No doubt,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. “There’s clearly a difference compared to what he was 11 or 12 months ago. Plus, I think you practice differently after you’ve had some game experience, just because you realize how much more relevant every drill and everything you do fundamentally and skill-wise is. And that’s where experience is huge for guys. You’re asking about the quarterbacks right now, but I think even a guy like (freshman running back) Cody Getz, catching one swing pass in the bowl game. All of a sudden he realizes all those swing passes you catch in practice, the catch and pitches, you realize it’s necessary.”

    Already a strong runner, Dietz is working hard on his passing this spring, specifically his dropbacks and reads.

    “It’s better,” Calhoun said of Dietz’s passing. “Just on a very regular basis, seeing a little more velocity with the ball coming off of his hand.”

    Switching to hoops, Air Force will travel to Wyoming today where tomorrow it will face the Cowboys – the only MWC team it has beaten. Ramsey recently blogged about his top 20 basketball players of all-time and asked Falcons coach Jeff Reynolds for his No. 2 (MJ is No. 1 of course). Reynolds gave his response via e-mail, and Ramsey has it in his blog, just scroll beneath the Jefferson post.

  • Sunday Morning Links

    Sun, February 28, 2010 by admin with no comments

    A dismal day at Clune Arena, a great night at Cadet Ice Arena.

    In the afternoon, UNLV dealt Air Force its worst home loss since 1993, despite a nice performance from a still-sick Tom Fow. The loss was Air Force’s 29th in its last 30 Mountain West Conference regular season games. Gazette columnist David Ramsey looked at how all that losing has affected Air Force seniors Grant Parker and Mike McLain. And here’s The Las Vegas Review-Journal’s take on the game.

    At night, however, things were happier. Air Force’s ice hockey team capped the regular season with an 8-1 beat-down of Sacred Heart. The Falcons’ victory, along with Mercyhurst’s overtime loss at Connecticut, means Air Force finished in third place in the Atlantic Hockey Association. The three-time defending AHA Tournament champs will face Army at home in a best-of-three quarterfinal series starting March 12.

  • UNLV 77, Air Force 47 – Rapid Reaction

    Sat, February 27, 2010 by admin with 3 comments

    As UNLV attempted to let the clock run out in this afternoon’s blowout of Air Force, one of the Runnin’ Rebels’ players lost the ball out of bounds with about a second left. The ref nearby whistled play dead, but the clock kept running until the buzzer sounded.

    And that was that. No reason to inbound the ball one more time.

    The feel of that moment was, “Let’s just get this over with.”

    Unfortunately, that’s how most of today’s game (the worst home loss since 1993) felt. And I wonder if that’s how the rest of the season will feel.

    Let’s just get this over with.

    Air Force trailed by 14 points 10 minutes into the game and by 20 with six minutes left in the first half. The result of the game was certain by then. And it made me wonder: How many minutes of the Falcons’ games this season have been played with the outcome already determined? I don’t know, and I’m not sure how to measure it. But I can tell you this – it’s been far too many. And that has to have some kind of effect on the way players play.

    The way Air Force played today was “tentative,” according to coach Jeff Reynolds.

    “And I felt we didn’t take a step forward,” he said. “And even in the Utah loss, there was a 12-minute span where we played pretty well. And so we’ve got to get them to focus on, hey, we’ve got to regroup with our energy and our effort, because I didn’t think that was there today.

    “We talked to our players about they’ve got to understand what’s at stake here, and that the first four minutes of the game’s extremely important. And that UNLV’s playing for something, and we need to play for something. And I’m not sure our guys got that message, and I guess that’s my fault.”

    Other notes:
    -The Falcons’ free throw shooting continues to be putrid. Air Force made 9-of-18 today including just 4-of-12 in the second half.

    The Falcons are 13-of-30 from the line in their last two games and are shooting 60.3 percent from the line in MWC play.

    -Gazette columnist David Ramsey wrote about the game in his blog: http://daveramseysez.freedomblogging.com.

  • Thursday Morning Links

    Thu, February 25, 2010 by admin with no comments

    Coming off a close loss at The Pit, the Air Force men’s basketball team seemed to have a little momentum heading into last night’s home game against struggling Utah.

    That’s gone.

    The Utes beat Air Force, 54-43, at Clune. Senior forward/center Grant Parker took the blame for the loss, even though he scored a game-high 11 points.

    Gazette columnist David Ramsey wrote about a crucial call in the game and Marshall Henderson, Utah’s rising star, in his blog: http://daveramseysez.freedomblogging.com/. And I gave my “Rapid Reaction” to the game in the post below.

    Also, here are the game stories from The Deseret Morning News and The Salt Lake Tribune.

    Switching to football, Matt Wallerstedt has replaced Tim DeRuyter as the Falcons’ defensive coordinator. But Wallerstedt, who hasn’t changed the defense, doesn’t look at it as a one-man show. More on the Falcons from yesterday’s practice later today in the blog.

    Finally, hockey writer Joe Paisley gives 3 Things to Watch in Air Force’s weekend series with Sacred Heart.

  • 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.