• 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.

  • Utah 54, Air Force 43 – Rapid Reaction

    Thu, February 25, 2010 by admin with no comments

    I posed the following question this morning on the blog:

    Was the Air Force men’s basketball team’s performance in a 59-56 loss at New Mexico on Saturday truly a step in the right direction or just a one-game anomaly?

    Looks a lot like the latter after tonight’s contest.

    Some of the problems that have plagued Air Force throughout the season were problems again tonight. For instance:

    -3-point shooting: Air Force went 2-of-17, including 0-of-6 in the second half.

    -Free throw shooting: Air Force went 5-of-12. Really?

    -Rebounding: While this is somewhat excusable, considering the Utes’ overall size, a 30-18 deficit on the boards never is good.

    -Defense: “We came out in the second half knowing what they were going to do and wasn’t able to defend it,” Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds said.

    “I thought we didn’t make some mature decisions defensively on our closeouts. And then we didn’t rotate over and help on the drives.”

    Something else that stood out to me: This team – maybe because of all the losing – doesn’t have a killer instinct.

    The Falcons totally controlled a first half in which Utah was dreadful, making nine turnovers and appearing totally confused by Air Force’s defense. But when the teams went to halftime, they were tied at 19. For as seemingly well as the Falcons played (and as poorly as the Utes played), they had no lead to show for it.

    Other notes:
    -Air Force seemed to lack some urgency late in the game. Down about 10 with less than five minutes to play, the Falcons mostly sat back and allowed the Utes to bleed time off the clock before attempting to score.

    So I asked Reynolds after the game if he thought Air Force was too passive defensively in the closing few minutes, eschewing a pressing style.

    “We extended our defense in the half court, and we had told them who to foul in the huddle,” Reynolds said. “We didn’t want to intentionally foul, and they did a nice job of keeping the ball away from their poor free throw shooters. Maybe we should have extended our press a little bit more when it was around three minutes.”

    -Yes, the officials blew the call on Mike McLain that negated the Evan Washington dunk that would have cut Utah’s lead to two with 10:55 left. Yes, it was a momentum-swinging call. No, it doesn’t excuse Utah following it with a 13-2 run

    -Between the incredibly slow pace of the game and all the empty seats, there was a weird atmosphere at Clune tonight.

  • 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.

  • End of the Shot Clock Troubles

    Mon, February 22, 2010 by admin with no comments

    As I noted in a couple of earlier posts, Air Force has had a problem throughout the season with finding good shots as the shot clock is about to expire.

    It happened a bunch at New Mexico. In the first half there was a pair of shot-clock violations and a pair of forced, rushed shots as the clock was about to expire. Two other times Avery Merriex traveled with less than five seconds on the clock.

    That’s bad. But on the flip side, Air Force did a really good job of slowing down the tempo against the Lobos by taking possessions deep into the shot clock. And that’s one of the reasons the game was so close.

    So I asked coach Jeff Reynolds today how his team can bleed the shot clock but still be able to get a good shot before it expires. Here was his response:

    “It’s something that we work on every day, called 12-second offense. It comes down to kids having shot-clock awareness and being able to be in a position to, within the offense, either get some penetration and get a guy open off a pass or maybe get to the rim.

    “And as crazy as this sounds, those three shot-clock violations (against New Mexico) were best turnovers we’ve had all year. Because even though we didn’t score, and even though we didn’t make a shot, and even though we didn’t get a shot off, we controlled the tempo. And we told them, ‘We do not today want any live-ball turnovers. We want dead-ball turnovers.’ So now the shot clock goes off, whereas if you shoot an errant shot and you miss it, because it’s highly contested, now they get the rebound and , wham, they’re going. Where now the shot clock does go off, they gotta inbound the ball. And now you get to set your defense. It’s not something that we wanted – not to get a shot off – but we didn’t complain to the kids about, ‘Hey, we’ve got to get a shot.’

    “Now, is that something we’ve got to get better at? Yes it is, absolutely.”

  • BYU 91, Air Force 48 – Rapid Reaction

    Sat, February 13, 2010 by admin with 4 comments

    Growing up just outside of Washington, DC, as a huge Redskins fan, I had the pleasure of reading The Washington Post sports section each morning at my breakfast table.

    I started my days with the words of Tom Boswell, Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser.

    For those who know Kornheiser only from Pardon The Interruption, he once was the most popular columnist at The Post (and before that an incredibly talented feature writer for several publications).

    Anyway, I loved reading Kornheiser. And watching today’s game made me think about a column he wrote back in October of 1998 after the Skins fell to 0-7. Kornheiser got a lot of mileage out of receiver Leslie Shepherd saying several different times that the Skins had hit “rock bottom.”

    Here’s part of Kornheiser’s column:

    Let’s check with our resident geologist, Dr. Leslie Shepherd, and find out where we stand today. You’ll remember that at 0-4 and 0-6 Shepherd declared, “This is rock bottom.”

    Leslie, how ‘bout 0-7?

    “It’s rock bottom,” Shepherd said Sunday. There, he said it again.

    Old reliable Leslie. It’s like dragging Punxsutawney Phil out of his hole on Groundhog Day and asking if he saw his shadow.

    Shepherd added, “I know I say that every week, but it gets worse and worse.” (So wouldn’t we be below rock bottom by now? Wouldn’t we be in … Australia?)

    Why do I bring this up? Well, the Air Force men’s basketball program might be in the Land Down Under after today’s game at BYU.

    Worst conference loss ever. Ever. Mountain West Conference. Western Athletic Conference.

    Ever.

    Wow, wow, wow.

    Try these stats on for size:

    -The most points an opponent had scored on Air Force heading into today’s game was 77. BYU had 80 with more than seven minutes to play.

    -BYU led by 33 at halftime.

    -Air Force committed 13 turnovers. In the first half. For the game? 22 turnovers. Twenty-two!

    -BYU made 10-of-14 3-pointers. In the first half.

    -Three BYU players (Jackson Emery, Tyler Haws and Jonathan Tavernari) combined to score 53 points (five more than Air Force scored).

    And consider this: BYU called off the dogs pretty early. They very easily could have hung a radio station on the Falcons (like a Kool 107 or Hot 103).

    Wow, wow, wow.

    Chat it up
    Thanks to everyone who participated in today’s chat – including our own David Ramsey!

    For a transcript of the chat, click here.

    Reynolds’ comments
    Here are some excerpts of Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds’ post-game interview with Jim Arthur on KVOR:

    “We picked a bad night to be here.”

    “Our kids looked physically and mentally exhausted, and I don’t understand that because we certainly have backed off in practice.”

    “We had some open shots.”

    “We’ll go back and look at the tape and go from there.”

    Unfortunately, they have to go from here to The Pit. Air Force at New Mexico next Saturday.

    What’s below Australia?

  • Stewart Update

    Sat, February 13, 2010 by admin with no comments

    Air Force sophomore guard/forward Taylor Stewart hopes to return to practice next week, but he could be out another 10 or so days.

    Stewart has been out since breaking his left (non-shooting) wrist on Dec. 28 against Niagara.  He recently began dribbling but experienced some stiffness in the wrist, Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds said Thursday.

    Stewart, who played in all 31 games last season and started 10, had played in 11 games and started seven this season before his injury.

    “It’s been tough,” Stewart said of sitting out. “But it’s also been good for the younger guys, watching them develop. They’ve stepped into their roles really well.”

  • Saturday Morning Links

    Sat, February 13, 2010 by admin with no comments

    The Air Force men’s basketball team plays at No. 17 BYU this afternoon. The Falcons certainly will need to play better offensively than they have the last three games to have a chance at a major upset.

    Speaking of offense, I wrote about Air Force’s best shooter, junior forward Tom Fow, in today’s edition of The Gazette. Fow is trying to diversify his offensive game. Also, here are my 3 Things to Watch in this afternoon’s contest. And Gazette columnist David Ramsey has one more thing to say about Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds and the Princeton Offense (or lack thereof) on his blog: http://daveramseysez.freedomblogging.com/.

    And for all things BYU, check out The Provo Daily Herald’s Cougar Blue section.

    REMINDER: I’ll be doing a live, on-line chat during the game. Go to Gazette.com around tipoff, and there will be simple instructions about how to join in the chat.

  • Ramsey on Reynolds Getting ‘Beat Up’

    Fri, February 12, 2010 by admin with no comments

    Gazette columnist David Ramsey blogged again today on a hot subject: Air Force men’s basketball and head coach Jeff Reynolds.

    Reynolds said earlier this week he’s been getting “beat up” for making “excuses” about players being sick. Ramsey has a different take on the reason for the beating. Check it out in his blog: http://daveramseysez.freedomblogging.com/.

  • Colorado State 51, Air Force 47 – Rapid Reaction

    Wed, February 10, 2010 by admin with 7 comments

    “Tonight we learned how to find a way to win.”
    -Colorado State coach Tim Miles

    “The difference in the game was we just couldn’t put the ball in the basket the second half. We had open shots.”
    -Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds

    Those were brief excerpts from tonight’s post-game interviews. And I think – in tandem – they help explain tonight’s result.

    We’ll start with Reynolds’ quote. Yes, Air Force couldn’t put the ball in the basket in the second half. After making 10-of-23 shots (43.5 percent) from the floor before halftime, the Falcons made just 4-of-22 shots (18.2 percent) after halftime.

    But part of that, I think, has to do with the fact that Air Force has not yet – to use Miles’ quote – learned how to find a way to win. If they knew how to find a way to win, maybe they knock down one of the open looks they had down the stretch. Maybe they get to the free throw line one more time. Maybe they avoid a careless turnover. Maybe they get one extra stop.

    The Falcons have dropped 26 of 28 games against MWC foes the last two seasons (including the tournament). And during that time they’ve found numerous ways to lose. But they haven’t learned how to win.

    And, unfortunately, there’s no crash course, no Cliff’s Notes for this. There’s no way to learn how to win except by winning.

    Other notes/thoughts:
    -It was really brutal to watch Air Force unravel.

    Seems like most times a team comes from behind to win a game, it makes a decisive run. Colorado State, however, just chipped away and chipped away as the Falcons became unable to score.

    -A quick note on the Falcons’ last possession with a chance to tie:

    Down 50-47, Air Force forces a missed shot by Colorado State (and a subsequent 35-second violation) and then calls timeout with 27.3 seconds left.

    Reynolds said he wanted to try to get a quick 2-point bucket. But that’s not what happened. The Falcons moved the ball around the perimeter and eventually settled for a contested 3-point shot by Evan Washington that missed.

    “Three freshmen, I think, were on the floor that last play, and we really wanted to drive the ball there because we had [27] seconds,” Reynolds said. “We knew they wouldn’t foul us, and we went a little brain dead.”

    -A potential rivalry in the making: Air Force’s Todd Fletcher vs. Colorado State’s Dorian Green.

    Both freshman point guards already are running their respective teams. Both have plenty of upside and moxie. And both should be playing in the MWC for the next three years. It will be fun to watch them go head-to-head the next few seasons.

    -Reynolds praised freshmen Michael Lyons (seven points and four rebounds but four turnovers) and Taylor Broekhuis (seven points, three rebounds), who played 28 and 23 minutes, respectively, though “they’ve been really sick.”

    -Kudos also to senior forward/center Grant Parker, who scored a game-high 13 points despite playing with a sore left shoulder. Parker’s left arm popped out of and back into its socket during Monday’s practice.

    -Washington matched a career-high with eight rebounds but missed 10-of-13 shots from the floor, including all four of his 3-point attempts.

  • Monday Morning Links

    Mon, February 8, 2010 by admin with 3 comments

    Once again, must give must respect to the BlogDog.

    Of the four prognosticators in The Gazette, only BlogDog correctly predicted New Orleans would topple the Colts yesterday.

    The man. I should have listened to him.

    Anyway, back to Air Force athletics. The Falcons suffered the worst loss David Ramsey has seen in seven years of covering the team on Saturday. Ramsey wrote in today’s edition of The Gazette that head coach Jeff Reynolds is overseeing a team that no longer runs the Princeton offense. And I wrote for the paper about how Grant Parker is playing hard despite being at, according to Reynolds, “65 percent.”