Saturday, January 5, 2008

Utah Review

Yes, it was just one game. Yes, it was on the road. And, yes, the opponent was a much-improved Utah team that could challenge for the Mountain West Conference title this year.

But today’s 58-36 loss to the Utes does not bode well for the Air Force men’s basketball team.

Here is what should concern Falcon fans:

-Air Force scored just 36 points, including just 13 in a second half in which it made 3 of 18 shots from the floor. No matter how good Air Force’s defense is, 36 points are not going to cut it. Air Force has shooters, and it has an offense that should create open looks. The Falcons should be scoring more points.

-The turnovers. There were 14 today, and while that might not seem like a lot when compared with how much other teams turn the ball over, one must keep in mind that Air Force – because of its style of play – has fewer possessions than most of those teams. In the first half, eight of the Falcons' 28 possessions resulted in turnovers.

-It’s been written in this space before: There just doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of fire on the floor. Being fiery is not a requisite for being a good player – former Falcon Dan Nwaelele was as quiet and soft-spoken as anyone in the Mountain West last year and yet he earned first-team all-conference honors. But he was surrounded by Jake Burtschi and Matt McCraw and others who had fire and moxie in excess. I'm just not sure if Air Force has anybody to fill those energizing roles. I haven't seen anybody take the team by its collective throat and will it to play harder and better. I think my colleague Milo Bryant put it best when he said this group might just be too nice.

Again, all that said, it’s just one game. It’s early. And this team is young. And inexperienced.

But to grow up fast, this bunch is going to need some positive experience. And the schedule doesn’t set up well for that.

Next Saturday the Falcons face UNLV – a team that seems to have reloaded and again could challenge for the conference title. After that it’s back-to-back games at Wyoming and New Mexico – two of the toughest places in the conference to play.

That makes 0-4 very possible before the Falcons play host to Colorado State.


Anonymous said...

The fact that Air Force was not even competitive against a conference opponent is very disappointing. An 0-4 start is not only possible; it is likely. After several years of very competitive basketball, has Air Force let success slip away from its grasp? The players and coaches should not allow this to happen. Next week's game against UNLV provides the opportunity to change the negative perception surrounding this team. The Falcons must take down the Rebels at Clune.

jake.schaller said...

Well, like I said, it was one game. But it didn't bode well for the rest of the year.
I just think the Falcons lost too much talent and experience to graduation and the guys that are filling in for them aren't quite the same kinds of players.
The UNLV game is big. I'll be interested to see what kind of crowd the Falcons get.