HOT: BIG ANNOUNCEMENT Boise State to remain in MWC (read link below)
Happy New Years to everyone and now the question is: Which of these two teams will still be happy after their meeting on the second day of 2013? Air Force travels to Richmond for its third road game of the holiday season with its last chance for a ‘signature win’ during their out-of-conference schedule. Air Force finds themselves 0-3 versus their top three OOC opponents. These three losses include a 74-89 loss to then #24 Colorado after being down only two at the half, a two point loss to now 12-1 Wichita State after being tied at the half, and last game’s loss to #9 Florida (61-78) after being down by only two at the half. Richmond sits in that top four list of OOC games that Air Force has been looking toward as difficult competition similar to what they will see in the MWC. Besides the three teams AF has lost to, Richmond is the lone OOC team that has a winning record (best win the Falcons have is over 6-6 Army with all other teams currently having losing records).
Richmond is very similar to Air Force in that they have not had the success in OOC play as they had hoped for after coming off a 16-16 season last season, only one year removed from going to the NCAA tournament. Again, very similar to Air Force, their wins have come against teams with less than .500 records with the exception of a win over William&Mary (7-4) in OT and beating Wake (6-5) for the third year in a row by 2 points. Their loses have been a mixed review of teams to include #6 KSU (by 28, down by 20 at the half), #9 University of Minnesota (by 15, only down by 1 at the half) and loses to Ohio (8-5), Davidson (7-5 down by 19 at the half) and losing the lead and game to George-Mason (7-5).
This will be a matchup that will have some sentimental overtones as the team meets on the court, and maybe more so from Richmond’s head coach Chris Mooney. A special meeting for older fans such as myself with the historic relationship of Coach Mooney with our AF basketball heritage. He was an assistant coach during the rejuvenation of AF basketball under Coach Joe Scott (2000-2004). During that tenure Coach Scott (along with Coach Mooney and staff) brought the Princeton to AF and went from bottom dweller to AF’s first NCAA tourney in 42 years. After Coach Scott departed, Coach Mooney took the head job for one season (2004-2005) and during that season AF received a bid to play in the NIT (but did not accept). He was part of that group that really helped Air Force grow into a viable program.
The Spiders continue in the tradition of Coach Mooney’s alma mater and still employ their version of the Princeton offense. You will see a lot of similarities in how Richmond runs their offense along as compared to Air Force but you will also see difference. From what I have seen the Spiders continue the philosophy of working the ball longer into the shot clock as a traditional Princeton does, trying to keep the constant motion going and looking for backdoor or the kick out for the open three. Shot’s can be taken earlier in the clock but not an emphasis item. I have not seen that many of Richmond’s games to may err on the conservative side here in my evaluation. I am anxious to see how their offense unfolds vs the Falcons.
They have a core group of players that will challenge Air Force with a core of two seniors and one junior that will start. Downside for Richmond in this meeting is that a second junior and the second leading scorer (13.6ppg) and leading rebounder (6.5rpg) on the team, Derrick Williams (6’6”/270#), twisted his ankle in their last game and most likely will not play today. Darien Brothers, 6’3” Sr, will lead the backcourt with 15ppg and a 53% 3pt shooting averaging having made 38 three pointers (as compared to AF’s Todd Fletcher, 6’2” Sr at 51% and 19 three pointers made). He will be paired most likely with Lindsey, 6’1” Jr, 10ppg. Forwards will start Robbins, 6’5”/220# Sr 7ppg and Nelson-Ododa 6’9”/210# Fr 3ppg/4rpg. All their starters shoot 31% or better from the arc which will be a concern for AF. In the place of the injured Williams I anticipate the possibility of the Spiders starting small and seeing Anthony, 5’8” So who averages 25mpg/12.5ppg. Key backups first off the bench include Sparrow G 5’8” So, Taylor F 6’7” Fr, Davis F 6’5#/200# Fr and Allen F 6’8”/220# Fr. All have seen good minutes with the starters (and Anthony) all averaging 25 or more minutes per game.
Key numbers in comparing both teams:
AF……………..FG 48% 3pt 39.5% on 23 attempted/9.1 made per game FT 65% TO’s 11 Rebs 31
Richmond…FG 45% 3pt 38% on 21 attempted/8.1 made per game FT 73% TO’s 14 Rebs 30
This will be an interesting matchup for Air Force and Richmond who both ‘know’ what each other does in philosophy and movement on the court but each with their own rhythm. As stated above, Richmond is more classic in their employment of the Princeton. Air Force has kept the offense under our first year coach Dave Pilipovich, but he has put his spin on the offense and it seems to work. You'll see more of a push up the court with a fast tempo if it is there for Air Force when they get the ball and if no shot then into the Princeton/motion offense 'but' the players have the go ahead to pull the trigger and shoot early in the clock (vice running it for 25-30 in a traditional Princeton) if the shot presents itself. The Falcons will employ either 4 or 5 seniors in their starting lineup. Behind those five seniors are a core group of sophomores who played extensively off the bench last year being the 6-10 players off the bench, and with most coming from a previous year playing together at the prep school.
The matchup that may well determine this game may be the play of the bigs on both teams. Not the normal concern of bigs playing tough inside, but more of how each team’s bigs play within the offense, working the glass inside but also bringing their presence and scoring on the outside. Senior Taylor Broekhuis knows this offense and what to expect so his matchup (along with backups Olesinski/Kammerer/Michaels) will be important to get the win.
Key’s for Air Force success in this game:
- Make Richmond work for each and every shot. Make our defense make their offense react, not the other way around. And the reverse argument is also there: Run our offense harder with crisper cuts than does Richmond and find ways to score quickly off transition when possible.
-Win the rebounding war which is critical in a game such as this as I anticipate a lower scoring game overall and ball possession will be a valuable commodity.
- Personnel: Mike Lyons is a standout player for the Falcons and he must play within himself, taking his good shots and distributing versus pressing. If he does this he will find more good shot opportunities for himself and his team. Richmond must find a way to limit him. Fitz has not found his groove but has excelled on all other facets on the court. Bend the knees, don’t leave the ball short and then, if he gets into that shooting groove all bets are off and ‘look out’. He is due for a breakout game. Time for Todd to take more into his own hands and shoot the ball. Kyle Greene off the bench is becoming a monster. Great move by Coach P and it is showing the fruits of his wisdom. Kyle appears to have blossomed in that role. Time for Oly, Justin, Cam and Ethan to get minutes and points off the bench.
- Defense: We must shore up the defense and the rotation by both teams through guarding the inside and rotating to the arc will be a must to get a win. We cannot allow backdoor after backdoor cuts and/or open three’s….all must be contested.
-Biggest key for the game: Intensity. We have shown tremendous ability to play against tough opponents for 20 minutes. Florida, Colorado and Wichita State are all teams that either are or have been ranked in the top 25 and we have been tied or down no more than two points at the half and then lose all three games. It’s time for 40 minutes (or more) if needed to win this game.
No more excuses for Air Force. We had two weeks off with the academic finals break before we played at Cal-Riverside. We had Christmas between that game and #9 Florida….now on to Richmond! We need to play and to win!
|Air Force Game Statistics|
|Richmond Game Statistics|
1 Jan 2013 New: AF Preview: AF vs Richmond, Loses to #14 Florida after down by 2 at half, AF women lose two, Around the MWC and Boise St stays in MWC
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