Still a 'young team and a work in progress' as Coach said in
his postgame radio interview with Jim Arthur on KVOR 740. I think this showed
throughout the game but with some very bright spots which shone throughout the
game! In addition, kudos to those that made it to the game. Much less than
Friday (not bad for third AF event BB-FB-BB in one weekend, 2800 tonight vs.
3200 Friday night), but a good crowd. Less cadets and less energetic than
Friday but those 2800 WHERE at Clune (arena)...thanks to those fans!
The biggest comment I have for the night was intensity. It seemed lacking to a degree as our Falcons hit the court. In post game comment coach Jeff Reynolds (JR) even said the shoot around at 9:30 this am was not a good one resulting in missed opportunities as we progressed to the game...more on that later. I must give the team some leeway, Cal St Bakersfield (CSB) came out in a zone and stayed in it until after the half/midway thru the 2nd half then went man-to-man. Coach said the morning shoot around was lacking that they never got to look at/review (remember, this is a very young team) our offense vs. a box-and-one. He thought CSB would try that a little, and in reality played that the whole time until they went man-to-man. Think about it. If you look at last years stats and our first game, who do you guard? Andrew Henke. CSB played box on one vs. him anytime he was in and, when he left the game, did the same vs. Anwar Johnson. During this period of time, the offense looked sluggish and (at times) unsure of themselves. They still worked hard but as a casual fan it felt slow and not our Air Force offense. That is something many fans forget as I sometimes do. We don't run the same AF / Princeton style offensive sets vs. man-man as we do vs. zone. It's a different thought process and not as much looking for the back door due to the zone. We did adapt and get opportunities for shots, both inside and out as the game went on. The team offense showed good sparks of movement, and even with the zone/box, had several backdoor and/or drive to the basket opportunities. Tried posting up at times with moderate success. Actually moved the ball quickly up the court a few times, but didn't have many opportunities to score off of them, and once had a 3v1 and didn't score.
On defense it was a different scenario than Friday. A much bigger team that 'early on' shot well outside, but also tried to push it into the paint with several big bodies on the team. Actually did well on the inside early in the game, fell off in the middle third of the game resulting in CSB getting some of their 20 off rebounds, and 18 points off second chance shots. But the defense did what they needed to do holding CSB to 33.8% FG and 23.6% 3pt (in comparison, CSB shot 30.3% FG and 11.8% 3's in their loss Friday to Wyoming 84-58).
Individual play says a lot about how our team did this evening.
Andrew Henke seemed to be quiet (as some other fans mentioned in AFAFalcons.com forum), but with the defense it's understandable, 3-6 FG 2-3 3pointers. Thought Andrew used his 'role' well but needed to be more aggressive moving with the man defender (in the box-and -one) to disrupt the defense more. The lack of practice as a team vs. the box may be the reason.
Anwar Johnson drove and, while he missed a couple, did an excellent job getting to the rim. But was only 5-13 and 5-8 FT's. If you don't score, ya gotta make the FT's. I'm preaching to the choir here. His potential and abilities are greater than last year. I saw the thought process and movement to the rim as aggressive and at the correct times. If he can break the bubble and figure out how to be more consistent, it will change our game!
Evan Washington was quite today. 3-6 (good numbers) but I think we need him to look more at the shots. Even from from the 3...while he may not be our 3 pt shooter, he has opportunities that I think he can successfully take. Versus the zone, he was not in as good a position for rebounds and vs. the bigs, didn't get many on defense.
Matt Holland played as a good role player tonight. Didn't look much from the outside.
Mike McClain...some good aggressive play, but didn't score when the opportunity presented itself.
Off the bench, Grant Parker, Taylor Stewart and Trevor Noonan played very well.
Parker...best game of his career. 3-6 FG and 6-8 FT's. Fairly aggressive underneath. Needs to 'jump' more, get off his feet. I'm very proud of his play and especially his FT's. Postgame said he worked hard this week on FT technique.
Taylor Stewart...wow, for a freshman he's played two very solid games. Jim Arthur asked about his experience in the system. He said he played a motion offense in high school and a similar offense to ours in AAU. It showed. First double-double for a freshman since Tom Bellairs with 13pts and 10 rebounds. Very nice and good defense. Did have a couple (2) of unforced To's (4 total) showing freshman mental error. Stewart was Co-AOG player of the game with Grant Parker.
Trevor Noonan. We played a combination offense tonight, often having both 6'8" Parker and 6'9' Noonan in . He contributed greatly in his first real action 3-5 FG, 1-3 3pt 8 total. Statistically good, but the big thing was his presence and his passing. Early to say (and going out on the limb with this comment)...but his passing even as a freshman reminds me of Nick Welch's passing. Could have forced several shots but made a good decision under duress and passed...score for AF!
Overall an interesting game. Jim Arthur thought it was a much better performance vs. a better team tonight vice Friday. I don't know if that's totally true, rather a performance vs. 'a shooting with bigs' team tonight with CSB vs. Westerns 'shoot from outside and make them' team. Good learning. The tightness of the game and the box-and-one probably helped Coach's decision to shorten the bench, and it worked. 8 guys played and 5 had 10pts or more, with Andrew coming in with a difficult 10pts. Evan had 7 and Trevor 8...good balance.
Free throws continue to be the 'dark horse' on our guys. Only 50% in the first half (4-8)...but a respectable 78% 14-18 2nd half. Overall 70% (69.2%)...we must be more consistent because that 'will' win or lose 3-4 games this season.
Overall good game for our young team. They need to find their energy, sense of urgency, focus as they step on the floor and keep that intensity for 40 minutes. Good we have an easier schedule because we will need each and every game to grow upon. Two games next week; Saturday UCCS 5pm, Sunday Wofford 5pm followed by on the road at Stanford the 26th. Mark your calendars.
Air Force opener against Western State proved to be quite the competitive game and gave the Falcons…