Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Less Than Confidence Inspiring

Well, on the positive side …

I liked the new scoreboards at Clune Arena.

Other than that?

Yikes. There weren’t too many positives to draw from the Air Force men’s basketball team’s 66-63 loss Wednesday night to Brock University, a team from Canada that does not have any scholarship players.

Yes, it was an exhibition. And, yes, Air Force is very young and inexperienced.

But the Falcons didn’t exactly play like it was an exhibition – only nine players were given significant minutes. And they couldn’t claim it was the first time they’d played together because they had the benefit of a five-game trip to Canada in early September and two weeks of practice before that trip.

Here are some other disconcerting observations from the game:

  • Brock didn’t have much size – a pair of kids listed at 6-foot-7 who didn't seem that big and didn't seem that athletic – but it still managed to grab as many rebounds as Air Force (29).
  • Even though Air Force knew Brock would shoot a bunch of 3-pointers, the Badgers still were able to make 17 of 31. Was that an unusually good shooting performance by the Badgers? Yes, Brock’s coach admitted as much. But Air Force should have done a better job defending the 3.
  • It didn’t take Brock long to figure out how to defense Air Force – run a box-in-one defense to neutralize Tim Anderson. The Falcons will be in big trouble unless Anderson gets some help.
  • A general lack of emotion, except for when Andrew Henke yelled at his teammates mid-way through the second half.

All that said, however, maybe Air Force needed something like this to make players work harder and understand the value of playing hard and with intensity every minute of every game. The players from last year’s team understood that. Maybe the guys on this year’s team need to learn it the hard way.

"Just because we lost this game, that’s not predicting the season," Anderson said. "Starting off on this kind of foot just says we need to work on our defense more and learn how to play as a team more.”

Indeed. And all of a sudden, a less-than-attractive out-of-conference schedule looks like the best thing that could happen to the Falcons.


Anonymous said...

Great observations Jake. I hope Reynolds can correct some of the shortcomings.

jake.schaller said...


The more I think about it, the more I think there are no quick fixes. It's just going to take time.
Air Force lost some pretty special players in the seniors that graduated last spring. And when those guys left, they took with them more than minutes and points per game. They had year of experience playing together, and in a game like basketball -- especially with the type of systems AF runs on offense and defense -- that is crucial. AF looked a bit tentative on both offense and defense last night. Players just seemed to be going through their paces just to get the offense right, instead of running it to score or to create a turnover. And even on some fast breaks, it seemed obvious that the players aren't yet totally comfortable playing with each other.
But, again, that takes time. How much? We'll see.

Ben said...

uh-oh - Maybe things will be reversed this year and football will be the sport we can all cling to instead of a near-undefeated basketball team.

Jake, any thoughts on the letters that Coach Calhoun and the AD are going to send out about fans traveling to the bowl game, should Air Force secure a spot?

jake.schaller said...


I just think that the letters will just try to drum up some fan support for bowl games. If AF gets a reputation like Navy has of sending fans to games, it will be a lot more attractive to bowls.

Ben said...

Jake, what's the status of Dan Nwaelele and Jake Burtschi getting into the NBA? Have you heard anything more on this?