Sunday, February 24, 2008

Colorado State Review

Yes, Air Force was facing the worst team in the Mountain West Conference – one that had lost 12 straight.

And, OK, the Rams are using some players who probably are better suited for intramurals than Division I basketball.

And, sure, Moby Arena with less than 4,000 fans – and more than a few supporting the Falcons – isn't The Pit or Cameron Indoor Stadium.

But don’t underestimate the importance of Air Force’s 61-59 victory over the Rams on Saturday, especially the way the Falcons won.

Without their best stuff.

Air Force missed 14 of its first 17 3-pointers, including some wide open looks that the Rams almost dared them to take. “I haven’t seen the tape,” Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds said a few minutes after the game, “but I would have to say that every shot we took that was a 3 was wide open, they just didn’t go in.”

In addition, Tim Anderson struggled again, going 3-for-8 from the field, and the Rams shot the lights out early, building confidence and momentum with every 3.

But, like a fighter who finds himself a step slow in a bout, Air Force hung on and did its best to minimize the Rams’ punishment. The Falcons saved their energy and, when given openings, unleashed flurries of points to steal momentum.

Yes, it was Colorado State. But good teams don’t lose to cellar-dwelling squads, and they find ways to win even when things aren’t going exactly right. Air Force is trying to become a good team, and Saturday was a big step in the right direction.

Other Thoughts:

-After Saturday’s games, the Falcons are 6-7 in the Mountain West Conference and in sixth place, a half-game in front of TCU (5-7) and a half-game behind Utah (6-6).

The top of the conference is tight too, as BYU (10-2) leads second-place UNLV (9-3) by a game. The Runnin’ Rebels have a half-game lead on surging New Mexico (9-4), which leads San Diego State (8-5) by a game.

So Air Force’s first-round opponent in the conference tourney is still up in the air. I think the best match-up for the Falcons might be the Aztecs and after that – crazy as it sounds – UNLV. The Runnin’ Rebels will play on their home floor in the tourney, but they are the one team Air Force matches up with size-wise. And the Falcons have given UNLV fits of late, winning at home and pushing UNLV to the brink on the road.

Utah is a pretty good possibility as an opponent, and I think Air Force might like another shot at the Utes. The one team I think the Falcons do not want to see is New Mexico.

-Eric Kenzik played his second straight solid game for the Falcons Saturday. He scored just six points in 10 minutes, but his pair of 3-pointers helped keep Air Force afloat in the first half when Colorado State couldn’t seem to miss from the perimeter.

-The game’s top highlight, in my opinion? Andrew Henke trying to throw down a dunk over 7-foot Stuart Creason. Henke didn’t quite jam it, but he picked up the foul and somehow banked the ball in anyway.

-Just eight turnovers for Air Force on Saturday. That means in three of the past five games, the Falcons have made eight or less.


Anonymous said...

Great comments's another's view:

Wow...what a game. Time for some time off! In postgame talk Coach says the guys (with a week off till BYU) will take Sun-Mon off, film on Tues and back to the court on Wed. Some well earned rest by the guys.

Wow (again)....a gutsy performance by our guys who literally had two different games 1st and 2nd half. Give CSU all the credit as did Jim Arthur, Coach Reynolds and our players in post game interviews. CSU never quit, play hard and aggressive and (obviously) had a giant game 1st half. TV announcers on theMTN did comment that coming out at the half it might be tougher for CSU to overcome their high and keep the focus vs AF knowing they had opportunities in the first half but just couldn't capitalize.

1st half (as I said in a different thread)...our offense worked like clockwork. Great drives inside (2 best were Anwar's and Andrew's) and great ball movement to get OUTSTANDING looking open shots for the threeeeeeee.....oops....we missed. Wide open shots with no one near and we went 2-10 (while CSU banged 10-15 in the first half....all 21 of their first 21 points were 3pts shots (7-8 at that time..whew). Our defense stopped penetration from the lane but CSU hit from the outside. Credit them for outstanding shots....yes...some were open shots, but IMHO over half of those made were with hands in their face. Kudo's CSU.

2nd half...we tightened down on the perimeter, Creason got a few inside, but defense did outstanding and our offense slowly got back into the game beginning to shoot inside and outside. And not just one player....very evenly spread with final stats showing points per player for AF at: 7, 6, 9, 5, 14, 14 and 6. This is a team effort and win on offense.

Some interesting stats:

Points in the paint-AF 20,CS 14. Points off turnovers-AF 17,CS 11.
2nd chance points-AF 2,CS 5. Fast break points-AF 6,CS 4.
Bench points-AF 20,CS 9. Score tied-5 times. Lead changed-5 times.
Last FG-AF 2nd-03:44, CS 2nd-02:49.
Largest lead-AF by 4 2nd-05:47, CS by 13 1st-03:02.

Great individual games by several folks. Tim didn't shoot well again but move and passed with (yes) 6 assists. Anwar tough inside, ft line and nice long shot right inside the arc, Evan monster block at end and nice drives. Eric key 3's in first half and quiet in second...thought he could have played sooner in 2nd. Keith..ouch on his open misses but fantastic on his corner 3 in 2nd half. Andrew...he will be our leader next year...first DOUBLE DOUBLE 14pts 10rebs since Jake Burtschi. Matt, another key 3 in the 2nd half.

Coaching...I give this to the coaches. First half our offense ran to perefections...but we missed. Adjustments in the 2nd and (not just us making 3's) we moved the ball, defended the perimeter and didn't allow Creason to go crazy. Coach must be reading the board (and smiling now)...different rotations to inlcude Andrew and Matt, Anwar and Evan for the one min Tim was out, Anwar-Tim-Matt-Andrew when Evan rested....good looks across the board!

Great game Falcons. L

jake.schaller said...

Any way Air Force wins at BYU?

What do folks think?