Sunday, November 25, 2007

Light from Losses

Air Force fans should feel better about their young and inexperienced men’s basketball team after two losses the past two days than they did during its 5-0 start.

Immediately after Sunday’s 71-62 loss to No. 9 Washington State at the Cougar Hispanic College Fund Challenge in Spokane, Wash., Falcons coach Jeff Reynolds said the game “was not a moral victory.” Players also shied away from that term.

Maybe that’s a good thing. No reason to try to feel good about losses.

Still, there were things about which the Falcons could feel good. On Saturday they stormed back from a 23-point second half deficit, pulling within one of Montana before losing, 59-57. On Sunday, in front of a hostile crowd, Air Force gave the nation’s ninth-ranked team its toughest test of the tournament.

For a team that lost an Oct. 31 exhibition game to Brock – a Canadian university with no scholarship players – that’s what you call progress. Big-time progress.

Now, there still are some significant concerns – most notably the Falcons’ depth. Not including reserves Eric Kenzik and Andrew Henke (a de facto starter), Air Force’s reserves have scored just 24 points this year – 5.5 percent of the team’s total output.

Reynolds is searching for some more dependable bench players – specifically guards who can ease some of senior Tim Anderson’s burden. Anderson, who played all but two minutes of Sunday’s game, is averaging 34.6 minutes per game. That's a pace that could wear him out mid-way through conference play.

In addition, there should be some concern that Air Force plays to the level of its competition – and that’s great against Washington State, but it could come back to bite the Falcons later in their non-conference schedule.

But this past weekend – especially Sunday – should give fans more hope for the season.

“I think we played hard,” Henke said. “I guess we can’t be too disappointed in ourselves because we knew we played our butts off the whole game, played hard the whole game and pushed a very, very good team to the limit.”

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

If AFA can hang within 9 points of the #9 team in the country, on a less than neutral court, they should compete well in the MWC.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for giving Andrew Henke some credit for doing a great job in the games. His coach, Reynolds, does not give him anything but negative feed back and is trying to destroy his confidence in himself by telling him not to shoot, control your emotions and not even congratulating him when he does a great job. I think this is just terrible on coach Reynolds part. Andrew has worked his butt off in practice and in the games and not even given a chance to start because coach Reynolds wants someone with "energy" coming off the bench. Given that Andrew and Tim are the only ones who played a significant amount of time last year. This is a disgrace. I may be prejudiced because I'm Andrew's Grandma, but coach Reynolds is a butthead. He needs to be thrown under the bus just as he does to Andrew every practice and every game.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Grandma...Andrew should be starting. But atleast he is getting alot of minutes. 3 players are getting more, so his could probably be bumped up a little more...but some guys on the bench need to step up. Our starters play more minutes than anyone else in the MWC.

As far as Reynolds trying to calm Henke down...I agree with Reynolds. He has got a little out of control in the past.

Section 8 said...

Jake,

Would you mind putting in the paper sometime this week that Thursday is a white out? Please ask all fans coming to wear white instead of the traditional blue. Thanks a lot and beat CU!

jake.schaller said...

Hi all,

Thanks for the comments. First, yes, I will put something in the Thursday paper about the white out. I'll also include it in my blog when I do an entry tomorrow.

As for Henke, I thought he never got nearly enough playing time last year - he didn't play at all in the critical loss to BYU in the regular season finale - and I also thought he never got enough credit. I always thought Jeff Bzdelik picked on him (though Andrew never complained) and used his defensive abilities as an excuse not to play him.

And to be honest - though I'm trying not to make any judgements that are too swift - I don't think he's gotten the credit he's deserved this year either.

Now, I can see where his emotions might get him in trouble, but I think he's done a pretty good job of keeping them in check - better than he did last year. And, in my opinion, the team would benefit if more people had the emotion Andrew has on the court. Last year Air Force had Burtschi, who was a wild man (but in a good way), and McCraw (who was super-intense tho in control) and even Welch, who was pretty intense to a degree. That offset the mild-mannered Nwaelele and Anderson.

This year there's Henke and ... that's it. Not saying that other players don't play hard - these guys do play very hard. But it would be nice to see a little more emotion at times.

Henke is Air Force's best shooter, its second-best offensive player (next to Anderson) and arguably the team's best passer. He should be embraced as such.