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  • Jake’s Preseason MWC Ballots

    Tue, July 20, 2010 by admin with 9 comments

    I’ve got only a couple more weeks left on the Air Force beat (more on that in a later post), but I plan to sprint hard toward the finish line.

    So I’ll be with Frank in Vegas next week to play blackja – I mean, provide you with all the information that comes out of the Mountain West Conference media days.

    Along with the commissioner’s State of the Conference address, one of the most anticipated aspects of the media days is the release of the preseason MWC poll and preseason All-MWC squad.

    I submitted my ballots today, which you can find below. As I’ve said in the past, preseason squads are kinda tricky. They’re part reward for past performance and part anticipation of future performance. Some value one more than the other. I try to go 50-50.

    Anyhow, without further ado, here’s what I submitted:

    Preseason MWC Poll
    1. TCU
    2. Utah
    3. Air Force
    4. BYU
    5. Wyoming
    6. San Diego State
    7. Colorado State
    8. UNLV
    9. New Mexico

    Preseason All-MWC
    Offense

    WR – Vincent Brown (San Diego State, Sr.)
    WR – Phillip Payne (UNLV, Jr.)
    OL – Matt Reynolds (BYU, Jr.)
    OL – Marcus Cannon (TCU, Sr.)
    OL – Jake Kirkpatrick (TCU, Sr.)
    OL – Caleb Schlauderaff (Utah, Sr.)
    OL – Zane Taylor (Utah, Sr.)
    TE – Alston Umuolo (San Diego State, Sr.)
    QB – Andy Dalton (TCU, Sr.)
    RB – Eddie Wide (Utah, Sr.)
    RB – Jared Tew (Air Force, Sr.)

    Defense
    DL – Wayne Daniels (TCU, Sr.)
    DL – Dave Kruger (Utah, So.)
    DL – Johnathan Rainey (New Mexico, Jr.)
    LB – Tank Carder (TCU, Jr.)
    LB – Mychal Sisson (Colorado State, Jr.)
    LB – Carmen Messina (New Mexico, Jr.)
    LB – Brian Hendricks (Wyoming, Jr.)
    DB – Anthony Wright Jr. (Air Force, Jr.)
    DB – Reggie Rembert (Air Force, Sr.)
    DB – Tejay Johnson (TCU, Sr.)
    DB – Andrew Rich (BYU, Sr.)

    Specialists
    P – Brian Stahovich (San Diego State, Jr.)
    K – Ross Evans (TCU, Jr.)
    KR – Jeremy Kerley (TCU, Sr.)

    Offensive Player of the Year: QB Andy Dalton (TCU, Sr.)
    Defensive Player of the Year: LB Tank Carder (TCU, Jr.)
    Special Teams Player of the Year: KR Jeremy Kerley (TCU, Sr.)

    As you can see, I went with three Air Force players on the first team.

    Rembert was a first-team all-conference selection last season, but it could be argued that Wright – who led the Falcons with seven picks – had the better season. I went with both of them, which might be a stretch, but it’s hard to pick one over the other. And I think they’ll form the MWC’s best corner tandem.

    I went with Tew because of how he ended the 2009 season, his potential (I think he can be both a workhorse and a big-play threat) and the fact there aren’t so many obvious standout tailbacks in the league that I thought I needed to select two of them.

    Here are some other Air Force players who could make a push for all-conference honors by the end of the season.

    Strong Contenders:
    -FS Jon Davis. Coaches have always raved about Davis’ potential, and he started to show what he could do last year. Look no further than his ridiculous pick-six against New Mexico (where he weaved through Lobos, absorbed a huge hit at the goal line and still managed to get into the end zone). He might be the best athlete on the team (he played a few basketball games for the prep school a few years ago), he has great instincts and he loves to hit. I predict a breakout year for him in 2010.

    -TB Asher Clark. After struggling in the middle of last season (he gained just 142 yards on 46 carries – 3.1 yards per carry – in games four through eightt), he finished strong (he had 481 on 67 carries – 7.2 yards per carry – and all seven of his touchdowns in the final five games of the campaign. With a healthy knee and the fact he’s not starting the year with thoughts of playing quarterback, he should get off to a better start in 2010.

    K Erik Soderberg. In 2009, his first year as a starter, Soderberg made 38-of-40 extra points and 22-of-30 field goals, including a long of 50 yards, en route to second-team all-league honors. He should be even better this season.

    Other Contenders:
    -G A.J. Wallerstein. If the Falcons’ brand new offensive line comes together and Air Force’s ground game continues to be strong, it likely will have a lot to do with Wallerstein. He got his feet wet in 2008 and last season played considerable snaps as part of a rotation at guard. Big, athletic and very, very smart, he could be a good one for the Falcons.

    -DE Rick Ricketts. He’ll be the leader up front as the Falcons’ lone returning starter on the defensive line. He’s undersized, but he plays with a relentless intensity and has a bit of crazy in him on the field (in a good way). He also always seems to be around the ball and has shown an ability to make plays. Working against him – there are a bunch of quality defensive linemen in the league and Ricketts isn’t a big name in the league heading into the season.

    -OLB Andre Morris Jr. Morris has talent, size and experience. This could be the year he puts it all together and goes from good to great.

    Keep an Eye on:
    -TE Chaz Demerath. Made just five catches for 25 yards last season, and Air Force tight ends had just 11 catches total. But I feel like the tight end will become a bigger part of the offense. It has to, right? And having a more experienced quarterback delivering the ball should help. Demerath’s an athletic kid and there aren’t a whole lot of touted tight ends in the MWC.

    -WR-Z/Ret Jonathan Warzeka. Showed his ability as a returner with the kickoff return for a touchdown in the Armed Forces Bowl. Always has had potential. Now that he’s a junior, he should make a substantial leap.

    -WR-Z Kyle Halderman. Missed more than half of last season with a broken collarbone. But he showed big-play potential as a sophomore.

    -All the LBs coming off injury. Among them are senior inside linebacker Ken Lamendola, senior outside linebacker Pat Hennessey and sophomore outside linebacker Alex Means. All could have big seasons … if they’re healthy.

    Long Shots:
    -WR-X Kevin Fogler. A long shot because Fogler won’t get the opportunity to catch nearly as many passes as the talented receivers at San Diego State, BYU and UNLV. But he’s become a bona fide big-play receiver. Last season he grabbed 25 passes for 567 yards and five touchdowns.

    -QB Tim Jefferson. So many good QBs in the league this year. And Jefferson probably won’t have the stats. But if he runs like he did as a freshman and passes like he did in the Armed Forces Bowl, he could force his way into contention.

    -NG Ryan Gardner. Coaches gave him high marks for his work during spring practices attempting to fill the shoes of Ben Garland.

    With that, I want to hear what readers think. Who should have been on the first team that I left off my ballot? Which Air Force players do you think will make their way onto all-conference? What do you think of the preseason poll? Is Air Force too high, too low or just about right?

  • First Look: Wyoming

    Thu, April 29, 2010 by admin with 1 comment

    This is Part 4 of my “First Look” series, in which I take a quick peek at each of the Air Force football team’s 2010 opponents. We’re going in order, one per week, with this week’s focus on the Wyoming Cowboys.

    Here are links to the First Looks at the Falcons’ first three opponents: Northwestern State, BYU and Oklahoma.

    Wyoming
    Coach:
    Dave Christensen (2nd year)
    2009 Record: 7-6 (4-4, 5th place in the MWC)
    2009 vs. AF: Lost, 10-0
    2009 in a Sentence: Wyoming took off once eventual Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year Austyn Carta-Samuels took over at quarterback, and the Cowboys – picked to finish last in the MWC in the preseason – finished 7-6 and won the New Mexico Bowl in Christensen’s first season.
    Off/Def Starters Back: 7/7
    Roster Report: Carta-Samuels, who was recruited by Air Force, will give the Cowboys a dynamic player under center for the next three seasons, barring injury.

    The 6-foot-2, 210-pound quarterback is mobile, can throw with accuracy and makes the Cowboys’ spread attack go. Last season he completed 191-of-326 passes for 1,953 yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions and added 366 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Perhaps even more impressive, he showed a penchant for coming through in pressure situations, leading the Cowboys to five come-from-behind victories – over UNLV, 30-27; Florida Atlantic, 30-28; San Diego State, 30-27; Colorado State, 17-16; and Fresno State, 35-28 in double overtime.

    Carta-Samuels will have more weapons surrounding him this season, as Wyoming improved its offensive skill positions in the offseason. Receivers DeJay Lester and Mazi Ogbonna both transferred into Wyoming from Utah’s Snow College where they combined for 67 catches for 1,283 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. They will join senior receiver David Leonard, an honorable mention All-MWC performer in 2009 when he caught 77 passes, and sophomore running back Alvester Alexander. In 2009 Alexander started just four games but led Wyoming with 640 rushing yards, including a career-best 137 against Fresno State in the bowl.

    Christensen also said the Cowboys increased their team speed “drastically” from 2009 and improved their offensive line, which has three starters back. All that should help Carta-Samuels in 2010.

    “We didn’t utilize all of our offense last year,” Christensen said. “I think personnel dictated that a lot, but I think we can start moving toward what we originally envisioned for the spread when we came here. We have better-suited personnel to do what we want to in our offense.

    “We’ll put more of our offense in this season. Part of that is due to Austyn’s growth in his first year, and we’ve also brought more playmakers into our program with these first two recruiting classes.”

    Defensively, the Cowboys will shift from a 3-4 to a 4-3 set.

    “I thought our players adapted well to that,” in the spring, Christensen said.

    Back on defense is inside linebacker Brian Hendricks, who made 116 tackles last season, including a single-game record 23 against the Falcons, and earned second-team All-MWC honors.

    The Cowboys’ secondary should be experienced and very strong. Brothers Marcell and Tashaun Gipson return to man the cornerback positions, and both Wyoming’s starting safeties return as well – senior free safety Chris Prosinski (a second-team All-MWC choice) and sophomore strong safety Shamiel Gary.

    Also back will be sophomore kicker Ian Watts, who made 12-of-15 field goals last season, including game-winners against UNLV, San Diego State and Colorado State, and honorable mention All-MWC punter Austin McCoy.

    Fast Fact: Air Force has won four straight games over the Cowboys. In the three victories under Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, the Cowboys have scored just 15 points and one touchdown.

    What Caught My Eye: The first two-thirds of Wyoming’s schedule. Brutal.

    After opening up against Southern Utah of the Football Championship Subdivision, here’s the Cowboys’ slate (with no bye week): at Texas, Boise State, Air Force, at Toledo, at TCU, Utah, at BYU.

    So the Cowboys face national powers Texas and Boise State, a good Toledo team (it drilled Colorado last season) and the four teams that finished above them in the MWC, all in a seven-week span. Yikes.

    The Air Force-Wyoming game will be really interesting – and it might come down to which team has more left in the tank. The Falcons face BYU and Oklahoma in back-to-back weeks before meeting the Cowboys, while the Cowboys have Texas and Boise State.

    Jake’s Way Too Early Line vs. Air Force: Air Force minus-3.5

    Final Thought: As Air Force sets its sights on breaking into the MWC’s “Big Three” of TCU, BYU and Utah, it needs to watch its back. There are several teams from the bottom half of the league that seem to be on the rise, and chief among them is Wyoming.

    The Cowboys appear to have hit a home run with the hire of Christensen, who managed to implement a high-octane offense while simultaneously bringing the “tough” back to “Cowboy Tough.”

    Air Force has won four straight games over the Cowboys, but all four were physical, tough and tightly contested contests (especially 2007 and 2009). Expect another this season.

  • More Football Notes

    Thu, April 22, 2010 by admin with no comments

    The Mountain West Conference’s nine football coaches spoke on a teleconference Wednesday, and I have a monster article with notes from Air Force (specifically concerning the Falcons’ offensive line and linebackers) and other schools (including BYU, Utah, UNLV and Wyoming) that you can find at this link.

    Some additional notes that I didn’t include in the story:

    -Speaking of the Falcons’ offensive, it likely will be even smaller than it appears on paper.

    “They’re not a big group,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. “Last year we had four of our five were less than 255 pounds, and I don’t think this group will be bigger.”

    -I wrote earlier this week about Oklahoma, Air Force’s Week Three opponent, in my “First Look” series. You can see the post by scrolling down. I asked Calhoun Wednesday for his initial thoughts on the Sooners.

    “Incredibly talented program,” he said. “And really, if you looked in history of college football over the last, golly, 70 years – national championships, I mean the whole bit. Great, great football program. And yet we know that’s a long ways off. At least for our players.”

    -I thought this comment from Calhoun succinctly captures his philosophy for his program:

    “When you look at it in general, our approach has always been to commit to recruiting, developing and placing very capable guys on defense, while seeking to become a plus-turnover team with a strong running attack and yet at the same time doing a good job in the kicking game too.”

    -Air Force will play host to BYU on Sept. 11 in the second game – and first league contest – for both squads. And BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall isn’t too excited about where the Falcons fall on his team’s schedule.

    “I don’t like it,” Mendenhall said. “Air Force is a very, very good football team, and the way they execute, the way they compete and the nature of their young men, it’s just a formidable challenge. And normally I like to have an idea of who our team is first to try to tailor our schemes and strategies to try to defend probably what is one of the most difficult opponents in college football. And so to have to play Air Force so early and on the road with some of the questions we have remaining at key positions on our team, it will probably the most difficult task we will have had in playing Air Force maybe in the six years now that I’ve been head coach.”

  • New Mexico 75, Air Force 69 – Rapid Reaction

    Thu, March 11, 2010 by admin with 4 comments

    Too bad there aren’t a few more weeks left in the season.

    Because it would be interesting to see if Air Force could keep performing like it did the last two days, when it played arguably its two best games of the 2009-10 campaign.

    This afternoon, they pushed the No. 8 team in the country throughout a physical, intense, emotional and often contentious game. This Falcons team was not the same team that we all watched most of the 2009-10 season.

    “I think towards the end of the season we started to click,” junior forward Tom Fow said. “We started to get things, have that passion, have that personal pride, you know, that we weren’t going to lay down for anybody.”

    Not surprisingly, the Falcons shot the ball extremely well this afternoon. In part because they attacked the rim and got some back-door layins, they went 27-of-50 from the field.

    Don’t want to say shooting is everything with this team, but consider this: Air Force’s four best shooting performances against conference foes are below. Those four coincide with Air Force’s only two victories against league foes this season and their two other top performances this season (both against New Mexico).

    Date – Opponent – Percentage
    Today – New Mexico – 54.0
    2/20 – New Mexico – 51.2
    Wed. – Wyoming – 47.9
    1/30 – Wyoming – 45.1

    That says a lot.

    But perhaps even more important than the shooting the last two days was the passion, emotion and energy with which the Falcons played. As I wrote yesterday, even the bench was into it.

    Again, I wonder where that energy was the rest of the season. And I wish the Falcons had a few more weeks to play with it.

    Other Notes:
    -I Tweeted this before the game: That was like a road game for Air Force. A ton of Lobo fans in the crowd at the Thomas & Mack.

    “New Mexico, they brought The Pit with them to the conference tournament,” Fow said.

    Air Force got a lift from the fans of other teams who were in attendance (they clearly wanted to see the upset). But the Lobos had the majority of the voices at Thomas & Mack.

    -I’ve wondered about some of Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds’ substitution patterns throughout the season. But I’ve got to say that he did an excellent job with juggling the lineup on Thursday. With a team that had just finished a game 21 hours earlier, Reynolds got good rest for his key players and found good combinations with his reserves. That was a key reason his team was in the game.

    -New Mexico junior guard Darington Hobson is a tremendous talent, and I voted for him as the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year. He was, without question, the best player in the league this year. And I think his versatile game and long, athletic body could make him a very good pro.

    So he’s too good a player for that preening, trash-talking, chest-pounding, punkish act he often displays during games.

    (Quick side note: Tomorrow is my birthday, and I already feel like old man. When I write sentences like the one before the parentheses, I feel like even more of an old grouch. Oh well.)

    Anyhow, if I was a New Mexico fan, I’d love his emotion. But I’d be concerned about how A) he got a technical foul for pounding his chest and celebrating after a bucket in the second half; B) how he seemed to get into it with Reynolds heading into a timeout (Reynolds and Hobson talked after the game and shared a hug); and C) how he got in the face of teammate Chad Adams late in the first half. Hobson came up with a steal and drove the court. He eventually got to the hoop and was called for a charge. He then yelled at Adams as if the foul was all Adams’ fault for not filling a lane.

    To Hobson’s credit, he gave a thoughtful response when he was asked if he can grow his passion “without encountering the negative side of that.” And he took responsibility for the tech.

    “Yeah, that’s one of the things I’ve been working on, trying to work on down the stretch,” Hobson said. “You know, it cost us two points during the game. I apologize for that. But you know, that’s just something I still have to work on. I’m an emotional player, and I show a lot of emotion when I play.”

    -One last thing:

    I wrote for tomorrow’s paper about the outstanding play of Air Force freshmen Michael Lyons and Todd Fletcher. Those two – and the rest of the freshmen on Air Force’s team – won’t be able to kick their feet up and get some rest now that the season’s over.

    Air Force was set to jump on a plane tonight and head back to the academy so the players could participate in “Recognition,” which essentially is a rite of passage for the freshmen.

    It starts today and includes physical training, room and uniform inspections, quizzes about academy and military heritage – you name it. Think rushing a fraternity without the booze and embarrassing hazing techniques. (“It’d probably be enough to scare you and your friends,” Lt. Gen. Michael Gould, the academy’s superintendent, told me after today’s game).

    It runs through Saturday night when the freshmen are awarded the Prop and Wings insignia. That signifies the fourth classmen are officially part of the Cadet Wing.

    Heading back to the academy after a heartbreaking loss would be tough enough. Having to join in this difficult process probably makes it much tougher.

    Best of luck to the frosh.

  • 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.

  • Air Force 59, Wyoming 40 – Rapid Reaction

    Wed, March 10, 2010 by admin with no comments

    So where was this team all season?

    The Falcons played with energy and emotion and – gasp – actually seemed to be having fun out there today.

    You could tell by the body language of the players that they were not going to lose this game. Even the guys on the bench – they were on their feet and cheering and celebrating. It was nice to see.

    An obvious reason the Falcons won was they actually hit some shots – something they did rarely in Mountain West Conference regular season play.

    But a bigger reason was defense. Air Force players were flying out to the perimeter to contest Wyoming’s 3-point shots. They were attacking passing lanes and going after errant passes. They were sliding their feet and making it tough for the Cowboys to get into the lane.

    In short, they were just playing nasty defense. The kind of defense Air Force used to play on a night-in, night-out basis.

    “We were really well prepared,” senior forward/center Grant Parker said. “We knew what they were going to do pretty much every single play. We knew their options and what they could possibly run. … I thought energy was a big thing tonight.”

    I asked Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds if his team had its best defensive performance of the season against the Cowboys.

    “I think there were stretches that we were very solid,” he said. “You know, (Wyoming freshman guard) Desmar (Jackson) is so good at getting into the lane. I thought (Air Force senior guard) Avery Merriex came off the bench and did an outstanding job of forcing him to go side to side versus to the basket. I thought Mike McLain did a really good job, as well as Grant.”

    Other Notes:
    -The Cowboys had a lot to do with their demise.

    Playing without starting point guard JayDee Luster, the Cowboys made 13 turnovers and hit just 2-of-16 3-pointers and just 8-of-19 shots from the foul line. Ouch.

    On Wyoming’s second possession of the second half, Desmar Jackson tossed a pass to Ryan Dermody on the right wing. Dermody reached for it with one hand, but it slipped off the hand and out of bounds. It just wasn’t the Cowboys’ day.

    -Speaking of Jackson, he is a talented kid. Especially as a scorer. So smooth and deceptively quick. He just has a knack for getting through traffic, contorting his body and finding a way to force in shots. He’ll be fun to watch in the coming seasons.

    -Play of the day, by far: Freshman guard Todd Fletcher’s drive to the hoop with about 3:26 to play. Wyoming was pressing, but the Falcons beat it, and Fletcher got the ball and took it across halfcourt. Instead of pulling it out and running clock, however, Fletcher saw a lane and exploited it. He went all the way to the rim and scored as he was fouled. He then hit the ensuing free throw to complete a 3-point play that finished off the Cowboys.

    “I made my diagonal cut. I just hear Evan in the background saying, ‘Go, go, attack,’” Fletcher said. “Their big guy was backing up. I had to make a layup. I went in, got hit. Coach says always keep your eyes on the rim and I did and it went in.”

    -I mentioned this in my notebook that will appear in tomorrow’s paper, but I wanted to send give props here on the blog. How ‘bout Ryan Gonzales – senior offensive tackle on the Air Force football team – winning the fan shootout during a break in the action in the first half?

    Gonzales hit a free throw, a 3-pointer and a halfcourt shot to win the competition. And he needed just two tries on the free throw and 3 and four on the halfcourt shot.

    There apparently are some ballers on the football team, including free safety Jon Davis (who played some for the prep school hoops team a few years ago), receiver Kevin Fogler, quarterback Tim Jefferson, receiver Kyle Halderman, outside linebackers Patrick Hennessey and Andre Morris Jr. and some others.

    -Quick, quick, quick turnaround for Air Force. The Falcons will have about 21 hours from the end of their game against Wyoming to tip-off of tomorrow’s game against New Mexico. Until then.

  • Update from Vegas – Air Force Leads at Half

    Wed, March 10, 2010 by admin with 5 comments

    The Air Force men’s basketball team just played one of the best halves it has played all season and went to the locker room with a 32-21 halftime lead.

    Air Force shot the ball well (13-of-26 from the floor, including 4-of-12 from 3-point range), played inspired defense and – perhaps most noteworthy – was energized and excited. The bench was into it, the Falcons were diving on the floor for loose balls and players were taking the ball to the hole with authority.

    Question is – can they sustain the effort in the second half?

    Not sure if Wyoming will play as poorly. The Cowboys had seven turnovers and missed 7-of-13 free throws.

  • Air Force Mostly Absent from All-MWC

    Mon, March 8, 2010 by admin with no comments

    For the second season in a row, Air Force was the only program in the nine-team Mountain West Conference not to have a player make first-, second- or third-team All-MWC.

    Evan Washington was the only Falcon to earn any recognition. The junior guard, who ranked second in the league in minutes per game (33.9) and averaged 10.4 points and a team-high 4.7 rebounds this season, was an honorable mention selection.

    The league’s coaches and selected members of the media vote for the teams and submit ballots with 15 players (five on each team).

    Prior to last season, Air Force had placed at least one player on the first, second or third teams for seven consecutive seasons.

    First Team
    G Jimmer Fredette (BYU, Jr.)
    G Tre’Von Willis (UNLV, Jr.)
    G Dairese Gary (New Mexico, Jr.)
    G/F Darington Hobson (New Mexico, Jr.)
    F Kawhi Leonard (San Diego State, Fr.)

    Second Team
    G Ronnie Moss (TCU, Soph.)
    G Jackson Emery (BYU, Jr.)
    F Andy Ogide (Colorado State, Jr.)
    F Roman Martinez (New Mexico, Sr.)
    F Malcolm Thomas (San Diego State, Jr.)

    Third Team
    G Tyler Haws (BYU, Fr.)
    G Desmar Jackson (Wyoming, Fr.)
    G Carlon Brown (Utah, Jr.)
    G/F Chace Stanback (UNLV, So.)
    G/F Jonathan Tavernari (BYU, Sr.)

    Honorable Mention
    Jr. G Evan Washington (Air Force), So. G Phillip McDonald (New Mexico), Jr. G D.J. Gay (San Diego State), Jr. F Billy White (San Diego State), Sr. F/C Zvonko Buljan (TCU), So. G Oscar Bellfield (UNLV), Sr. G Luka Drca (Utah), Fr. G Marshall Henderson (Utah).

    All-Defensive Team
    G Jackson Emery (BYU, Jr.)
    G Dairese Gary (New Mexico, Jr.)
    G Tre’Von Willis (UNLV, Jr.)
    G/F Chace Stanback (UNLV, Soph.)
    C David Foster (Utah, Soph.)

    Player of the Year
    G Darington Hobson (New Mexico, Jr.)

    Defensive Player of the Year
    C David Foster (Utah, Soph.)

    Freshman of the Year
    F Kawhi Leonard (San Diego State, Fr.)

    Newcomer of the Year
    G Darington Hobson (New Mexico, Jr.)

    Sixth Man of the Year
    F Jonathan Tavernari (BYU, Sr.)

    Coach of the Year
    Steve Alford (New Mexico)

  • Tuesday Morning Links

    Wed, March 3, 2010 by admin with 2 comments

    Air Force clinched a second consecutive last-place finish in the Mountain West Conference last night by losing to the only team it had a chance to catch – Wyoming.

    The Falcons fell, 58-49. Junior Tom Fow scored 17 points, showing off a more diverse offensive game. But coach Jeff Reynolds said after the game that Fow still has much work to do on his defense.

    “Gave up too many easy shots,” Reynolds said.

    Here’s The Casper Star-Tribune’s game story and Robert Gagliardi’s column for The Wyoming Tribune-Eagle. Both mention how the MWC’s worst 3-point shooting and worst defensive squad hit nine 3s and played good defense against the Falcons.

    In other news, the MWC reprimanded New Mexico coach Steve Alford for calling BYU’s Jonathan Tavernari a seven-letter word that I can’t write here (watch a clip of it here, but be warned that the word appears in the clip). Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Ed Graney writes that while Alford “is a lot of attitude, some productive, some annoying,” he also has done a great job with the Lobos this season. I enjoyed the piece.

  • Wyoming 58, Air Force 49 – Rapid Reaction

    Wed, March 3, 2010 by admin with 1 comment

    When Grant Parker was a freshman, Air Force won 26 games and reached the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament. The Falcons, for a time, were ranked No. 11 in the coaches’ Top 25.

    Now, just three years later, Air Force will finish in the Mountain West Conference cellar for the second season in a row.

    Could anyone have imagined such a drastic fall from grace? Parker certainly couldn’t have.

    “No,” he said. “You don’t really picture that happening. But at the same time, stuff happens and you’ve just got to try to move on and look to the (Mountain West Conference) tournament, I guess. It’s really tough because we’ve played really well at times this season, but collectively, overall, we haven’t really played as well as we would have liked.”

    Air Force ended last season with a smidge of a positive feeling, staying close in games at UNLV and BYU and then beating Colorado State in the MWC Tournament play-in game before finishing the season with a noble loss to the Cougars in the tournament quarterfinals.

    The Falcons will need a major turnaround in Saturday’s regular season finale and the MWC Tournament to take any positive feeling into this offseason. Because right now, the Falcons don’t seem to be getting any better.

    Other Notes:
    -Air Force pulled to within one point of Wyoming – 48-47 – after Tom Fow hit a jumper and then Evan Washington hit a 3-pointer with 2:40 to play.

    But things unraveled after that.

    So I asked Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds after the game how disappointed he was that his team didn’t execute so well on the possessions after Washington’s 3.

    “Well, what do you call, ‘not executing?’” he asked.

    Here were Air Force’s three possessions after Washington’s 3-pointer: Forced, air-balled 3-pointer as the shot clock was about to expire. Turnover. Turnover. I’d call that not executing.

    “We missed two layups, too,” Reynolds said.

    I told him I was talking about the three possessions following Washington’s 3.

    “Well, we wouldn’t have been in that situation if we’d made those shots prior,” Reynolds said. “And that’s frustrating.”

    -Air Force out-rebounded the Cowboys, 28-25. It was the first time in conference play the Falcons out-rebounded an opponent.

    -Freshman Michael Lyons continues to struggle from 3-point range. He missed all four of his attempts from beyond the 3-point arc and is now 1-for-16 from 3 in his last four games. Lyons also had five turnovers in 36 minutes tonight.

    -Shawn Hempsey started six games last season and played in 12 others. But he has barely sniffed the floor lately. He logged his sixth DNP-Coach’s Decision in MWC play on Tuesday night.