Air Force BBall: The Slide Continues

AFA Grant Parker 2010  (AP)

The brief optimism that permeated Air Force after it ended a 22-game conference losing skid has quickly left the premises.

GETTING INSIDE
   
   The Falcons weren't able to ride that rare dose of momentum to any further wins as they took it on the chin twice -- a 22-point road loss to San Diego State and a 14-point home to a Texas Christian squad that had lost five consecutive Mountain West Conference games.
   Air Force (9-13, 1-8) has lost nine of its last 11 games with perhaps the most inexcusable performance occurring against the Horned Frogs, who shot 61 percent from the field.
   "We had no energy and couldn't defend," Falcons coach Jeff Reynolds said. "I've got to do a better job of getting them to play harder and having more energy. TCU did a nice job of defending us, and you're not going to win many games when the team shoots 61 percent on you."
   For the second straight contest, the Falcons were extremely slow starters. Against San Diego State, Air Force fell behind 12-0 and was 0 of 9 from the field with four turnovers before scoring its first points nearly 10 minutes into the game.
   Against TCU, the Falcons trailed 11-2 before receiving the wake-up call that the game had begun.
   "We didn't come ready to play, and you see that in the first five minutes of the game," senior forward Grant Parker said.

NOTES, QUOTES
   
   --The Falcons had just 20 shots from the foul line in two games against San Diego State (1 of 6) and TCU (6 of 14). Even worse, they made just 35 percent of the free-throw attempts.
   --Air Force has committed more turnovers than assists in eight of its past 11 games.
   
   ON THE SPOT: Senior center Mike McLain has struggled since returning from a concussion. McLain has averaged just 2.3 points in eight Mountain West games after averaging 7.2 points during nonconference play. The Falcons could use more production from McLain down the stretch.
   
   QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was very difficult but yet at the start of the second half, it was a six-point ballgame. Then we had back-to-back turnovers by two freshmen. Our freshmen withered under their pressure and we had some open shots that didn't go down." -- Air Force coach Jeff Reynolds, on digging an early hole in the loss to San Diego State.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

   SEASON RECAP: Air Force's magic number is two -- as in two wins will keep the Falcons from experience a 20-loss season. Even with senior forward Grant Parker back in the lineup, the Falcons are helpless against the top teams in the Mountain West and capable of being routed by a lower-level team like TCU. 
   
   PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- F Grant Parker, C Mike McLain, G Michael Lyons, G Todd Fletcher, G Evan Washington. Key Subs -- F Tom Fow, F Mike Fitzgerald, C Taylor Broekhuis, G Avery Merriex, G Shawn Hempsey, F Derek Brooks.
   
   GAME REVIEW:
   Air Force 70, Wyoming 63
   San Diego State 70, Air Force 48
   Texas Christian 65, Air Force 51
   
   GAME PREVIEW: 
   vs. Colorado State, Tuesday, Feb. 9
   at Brigham Young, Saturday, Feb. 13
   at New Mexico, Saturday, Feb. 20
   vs. Utah, Wednesday, Feb. 24
   vs. UNLV, Saturday, Feb. 27
   
   IN FOCUS: Wins are tough to come by for Air Force, and games against the league's top three teams (BYU, New Mexico and UNLV) are among the next five games on the slate. At least the other two games (Colorado State and Utah) are at home. 
   
   ROSTER REPORT:
   --Sophomore swingman Taylor Stewart could be about two weeks away from returning as he makes progress from a broken wrist suffered in late December.
   --Sophomore C Sammy Schafer (concussion) still retains hopes of returning this season but hasn't been cleared to practice with the team.
   --Junior F Tom Fow connected on three 3-pointers against both San Diego State and TCU. Fow leads the Falcons with 35 3-point baskets.

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