Saturday, February 2, 2008

TCU Review

I think it’s safe to say at this point that nobody should read too much into any one game the Air Force men’s basketball team plays this year.

The Falcons were blown out at Utah by 21 in their Mountain West Conference opener and boy, oh, boy did it look like it’d be a long league season. Until the next game when they knocked off UNLV – the team picked to finish second in the league in the preseason.

They were rocked by New Mexico at The Pit and the offense looked anemic. Until the next game when the Falcons scored 75 – tied for the second-most they’ve put up all season – in a victory over Colorado State.

They suffered their worst home loss since 2001 to BYU, and it looked like the beginning of the end with a tough stretch ahead. Until today when Air Force defeated TCU, 56-46.

It’s going to be that kind of year – up and down, up and down. That’s what we should expect, especially with an inexperienced team.

TCU Quick Thoughts:

-Overall, just a huge victory considering what’s up next. Even if the Falcons lose at San Diego State on Wednesday – and the Aztecs are very tough to beat at home – they’d be 4-4 halfway through the league season. Not bad, considering this team was picked to finish eighth in a nine-team league.

-I wrote below in my BYU Review/TCU Preview about Tim Anderson’s stellar defense. It was on display again today as he made two steals and, according to stats the Falcons keep, seven deflections.

Anderson again played like a MWC Player of the Year candidate today, lifting his game when it mattered most. After TCU went on a 10-2 run to close within a point late in the game, Anderson calmly drained a 3-pointer. Two possessions later, he drained another, and the lead was back up to seven.

And check out this three-possession sequence early in the second half:

TCU Ball: Anderson blocks shot
AF Ball: Anderson makes no-look touch pass to Keith Maren for a layin.
TCU Ball: Anderson makes steal

BYU’s Lee Cummard might end up taking the POY award, but Anderson’s got to be in the discussion.

-Air Force is very fortunate TCU's Henry Salter did not play.


-Not a great performance by the TCU student section. When your top cheer is "Air Force [rhymes with tux]," that's pretty lame.

-Anwar Johnson’s late-game dunk hopefully gives him some confidence around the rim – especially after being rejected on a dunk attempt earlier in the game and blowing the dunk late in the BYU game.

It was a pretty impressive dunk, though, as jams go. And just as impressive was Andrew Henke’s first-half dunk when he drove the baseline and threw it down with two hands.

9 comments:

Stats Dr said...

Jake,

At some point don't you have to start thinking about Jeff Reynolds as coach of the year? He's taken a group with no experience and pushed them to be competitive in some very big games.

Glad to see the blog active again, I was afraid you had joined the hollywood writers strike.

jake.schaller said...

Stats,

No, I'm back. Was spending a lot of time working on a package about Air Force's revamped recruiting efforts that will run early next week.
I think if AF gets to 8-8 and finishes in the middle of the pack that Reynolds definitely is in the COY conversation. Other than UNLV, I can't think of a team that lost close to what AF lost.

Anonymous said...

Jake--
I was at the game right in front of the student section you spoke of. These guys have nothing on Section 8! The cheers were almost all "taunting" in nature, with lots of personal attacks and even obcene references.

Having said that, I'd like to comment about the TCU security. They were right on top of things, and when the heckling became profane or too personal, they were there to put a quick stop to it. These kids must have witnessed some consequences in the past, because the few times the security guys came to speak to them, they were responded to with "yes, sir" and "no, sir" and then things would settle back down.

I spoke to some in the student section at halftime and had some playful banter with them during the game. For the most part, they were courteous and respectful kids. Thanks to the Falcons, they did get a lot quieter at the end. :)

Anonymous said...

Jake...good overview of the game. What's your thoughts on what won this game...was it the defense keeping TCU 'outside' the lane and stopping the 3? ....or was it our penetrating the lane giving us outside shots later AND being able to break the press? Inquiring minds want to know....thanks for the good words!

jake.schaller said...

I think what won it was a little bit of both.
Air Force played good defense both inside and out (tho they were helped considerably by the absence of TCU's Salter, who is the best 3-point shooter in the league).
And the Falcons played very well on offense, working the shot clock and passing up OK shots and good shots for great shots. And making them.

Anonymous said...

Glad to have you back Jake. Keep up the good work.

Will look forward to seeing the recruiting piece you mention. Definitely a challenge to field winning teams, when the purpose of the athletic department is not actually to field winning teams, but rather to help develop Air Force officers. Although winning is nice (and impressive when it happens given the constraints they face), we all have to keep the ultimate purpose in mind.

jake.schaller said...

Very true.

The recruiting package will run in Wednesday's paper.

Anonymous said...

With respect to the last post, I don't think that the goal of the athletic department is to produce officers, nor should it be. The goal of the athletic department is to put winning teams on the court and field. Yes, the mission of the Academy is to produce officers, but like any university, each department has its exclusive mission, and the mission of the athletic department is to produce winning teams. If it's not, then there's no commitment to excellence, because a true commitment to excellence encompasses excellence in everything you do. There are some out there that want to make the Academy an ROTC detachment. It's one of the top-flight universities in the nation, producing leaders for our nation in all walks of life. The Athletic Department has a mission, and it's to field winning athletic teams. -a graduate

Anonymous said...

Couldn't disagree more. If the ultimate goal was to win then you . . .

- Throw out the academic standards for athletes. Let them major in basketweaving, or whatever

- Allow the athletic department to make admissions decisions independent of the admissions department, as is done for 99% of the other colleges out there

- Let superior athletes leave school at the 3 year mark without penalty to pursue professional athletics

- Have a legitimate red shirt program, not just the Prep School "psuedo" red shirt

- Relieve graduates of their service commitment altogether if they are capable of going pro in athletics

- Take athletes out of the squadron and let them all live together, separate from the other cadets. Heck, let them live in apartments out in town (after all, Coach Calhoun says getting off Academy grounds the night before games is more condusive to winning)

No, you shouldn't do any of these things. The primary goal is to develop officers, not win games. Winning games is certainly is not inconsistent with that goal, but it's not primary.

It's the means, not the end.

- Also a grad