Lots to read in news links (scroll down)...MWC is tough.
And my reveiw on AF vs CU...........http://ricksfalconreview.blogspot.com/
Air Force goes on the road versus #23 ranked Colorado Plus Scroll down for AF Basketball, Football and Hockey News links In a meeting of two unbeaten teams, Air Force at 5-0 faces a ranked CU team that is 4-0. This is game two of a four year series between the two schools. In their first meeting last season CU won in overtime by 3xxx but not without controversy. With only minutes remaining in regulation, at the end of a timeout the officials gave the ball and whistled play before all Air Force players were on the court, passing up court in the opposite direction and scoring. Those two points were critical in CU coming back to tie the game which then went into OT. Air Force had their chance to win but lost.
This is a meeting of two teams that played close in that game, are similar in some respects and different in others. Both teams bring back key components from last year but while CU lost their #1-3 scorers from last year (returning 4-9), the Falcons return all top scores (#1-12) from MWC play. Both teams played close in last year’s OT game but CU went on to win the Pac-12 regular season championship and go the NCAA’s while AF finished with only 3 wins in MWC play. While Air Force does have everyone back and practicing, their fifth leading scorer, Justin Hammonds, will not play until the end of the semester due to academics.
The Buffs come in to this game ranked for the first time in OOC in more than 20 years. They beat #16 Baylor enroute to winning the Charleston Classic and gaining their #23 ranking. They are led by 6’1” sophomore guard Booker who is averaging 18ppg and 8-19 42% from the arc and 6’5” sophomore guard Dinwiddie12ppg and 5 rebounds. Big man and local Colorado Springs (Monument Lewis Palmer) graduate Josh Scott, freshman 6’10”, Mr. Colorado and top 50 recruit, also has 12ppg and 5 rpg averaging 27 mpg. They are a seasoned team playing three players 31minutes or more a game, three players 21, 23 and 25 mpg and two players 10mpg. They are pretty aggressive on defense meeting the ball at the half court and playing close up, in your face ball averaging 7 steals per game. From what I have seen they like to get up and down the court but, while averaging 46% FG and 39%, only score 77ppg (but this is also relative to their opponents to include #16 Baylor as mentioned above).
Contrasting the Buffs, Air Force has grown as a team since last year in style of play. It is distinctly two types off offense versus the 100% Princeton of Joe Scott’s day. The Falcons this year are really pushing the ball up the court, faster and more up tempo than I can ever remember and looking for the transition points. But now the difference from most teams that do this: If it is not there they transition quickly into their Princeton offense and, to this one observer, running it better and with better and quicker cuts, than they have in many years. Part of the reason we can do this is depth off the bench. For the first time in many years Air Force actually has a bench that can give both offensive and defensive production, and one that the coaching staff trusts. Only one player, team scoring leader Mike Lyons at 22ppg, averages more than 30 mpg. Three other starters average 27, 27 and 24 mpg. The bench is giving good production with minutes for the top 7 off the bench averaging between 4.5 – 16.6 mpg along with scoring. 35% of all rebounds are off the bench!
So an interesting matchup between these two teams. Keys for Air Force are simple but complex.
1) Take care of the ball. If the Falcons can keep turnovers and subsequent second chance points low, they put themselves into position to win the game.
2) We always talk rebounds but in this game it will be critical. Freshmen starter Scott is 6-10’/220# and off the bench Harris-Turks is 6-10”/250#, but overall the size and physical comparisons between the two teams are not that far off. Speed in the backcourt and subsequent rebounding/transition will be key.
3) Scoring and the bench. Both teams have major players who are their scorers. For AF it is obviously Lyons and a host of others. For CU it’s their big three followed by the team. I believe whichever team’s bench and role players come out on top of scoring and with key defensive stops, will be the team that wins this game.
4) Coaching. Critical for AF’s staff to matchup AF’s offense to take care of the ball while not letting CU dominate inside, and do that while keeping the starter fresh. Use that deep bench to win the game.
5) Did I say bench more than two or three times above? I think AF’s bench can key the win is this game.
This is a great test for Air Force. CU has over 6500 season tickets sold and students are back Sunday from Thanksgiving. It is a great experience and character building game for Air Force, just like games we will see versus Florida, Richmond at on the road in the MWC. It all begins at 6pm MDT with tipoff on Sunday. Be there!
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