Now THAT my Falcon friends was FUN!!!!!! Flashbacks to the "glory days" of AFA hoops all around!!! A magical day at Clune. Thanks to all who turned out on a beautiful Colorado Saturday afternoon.
5011 in attendance at Clune!!! The Cadet Wing showed up in numbers in the north endzone and were LOUD when they needed to be!!! Cadets stormed the court at the buzzer. Great job guys and gals!! The Falcons and the rest of the crowd fed off your energy. Contributions made by everybody on the team. Team basketball at it's finest. Seemed SDSU designed every play for Franklin who was ineffective from outside. He did half his damage from the free throw line. Grown men hugging each other after the win!
SIGNATURE win for Coach P and staff. The Falcons broke through that psychological barrier of not just playing with a HEAVY, but beating the HEAVY!!!! They built several leads only for SDSU to make their runs as they are a great team. But we're a great team too!!
What a difference a year makes!!! Proud of you guys!!
Officials? what officials?!?!?
Bottom line here. The Boys were really good today and I was very fortunate to be there.
Signature is right. Awesome. Amazing. It was spectacular. And as I hoped, my ears are still ringing and I am hoarse!!!!!! I couldn't even stay in my seat, but fortunately I am on the walkway, and I could stand for those last few minutes. What a game. What fun. So proud of the team. Great, great win. So fun to see the cadets storm the court. Go Air Force, Beat the Lobos.
Another great team win by the Falcons! Mike Lyons had 20, and Todd 13, but the thing about this win, just like the Fresno State and Wyoming wins, it was a team effort. Everyone stepped up and made the play, got the rebound, forced the turnover, hit the big shot when needed (and every shot was big in the second half!).
It was a great job by the Coaches. Once again, Coach Pilipovich out coached his counterpart Steve Fisher, and don’t forget, Fisher has a national title. The Falcons were getting hammered down low in the first half playing a 1-2-2. They went matchup zone in the second half and basically sealed off the baseline. The matchup zone also helped defense SDSU’s Jamal Franklin in the second half. Both Fitz and AOG player of the game, Kam Williams, really shut Franklin down, and if it wasn’t for some very “friendly” officiating from Jimmy Casas, Franklin wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near 25 points today.
Check out the Falcons from three. Todd 3/6, Mike 3/7, Big O 2/4, DeLovell 1/1. Overall 12/30 for 40%. But when the game was on the line the Falcons made their free throws; 8-9 for the game. None were bigger that the two hit by Kam Williams with 19 seconds left to give the Falcons a three point lead, which was the margin of victory. I saw Kam in the Waffle House last Sunday after the win at Wyoming. Kam had only played 4 minutes in the Wyoming game, but I complimented him on how good he and the team looked this year, and to keep working hard; that he was going to be part of something great. Wow, I’m glad something great took place today at Clune, and he was definitely part of it!! Well done Kam!!
Ok, what would a post by 72 Eagle be without a critique of the zebras . . . so here goes!
The Falcons also overcame a boat load of adversity from the officials, especially Jimmy Casas, who was not anywhere close to calling it “both ways.” Actually, crew chief Randy “Bad Call” McCall did a good job today. He was consistent, and wasn’t swallowing his whistle for one team or the other. Tony Padilla seemed to be leaning toward giving SDSU the calls. He missed 4 obvious travels that occurred right in front of him, and he never called 3 seconds on SDSU even though I had at least 4, 5+ counts during the game. However, he didn’t call a travel on Kam Williams on the critical drive to the basket that led to the game winning two free throws. That was a heck of a makeup call!
However, Jimmy Casas was a real anchor on this referee crew. SDSU got every touch foul on their end, while Fitz had to put his shirt back on after every offensive possession by the Falcons since he was getting held so much. Every time Franklin had his back to the basket, he hooked the Falcon defender, or used his forearm, to create space to get to the rim. He never got called for an offensive foul. I guess that the possible MWC player of the year gets special treatment. He sure got it from Jimmy Casas. Overall the Falcons were 1-2 in the first half from the FT line; SDSU 6-6. The second half wasn’t any better. The Falcons did get to the line 7 times and made all 7, while SDSU was 9-12. The Falcons didn’t get to the bonus until Williams was fouled with 19 second in the second half. This was Jimmy Casas’ first trip to Clune this year. I hope it was his last. He needs to go on the “don’t call back list” along with Chris Rastatter.
Well, even the refs couldn’t steal this one from the Falcons! They wouldn’t be denied. Can anyone say, “road trip” to NM next week!
Wow! Again I missed a big win due to 'other duties' with AFA track & field in ABQ. But, validating a decision I made almost 32 years ago, Mrs Stalagian texted minute-by-minute updates to me that were relayed to the coaches and athletes. The UNM fans were thrilled by it, too! She was sending notes quicker than espn's live feature on my crackberry!
Of note to bball fans, Marek Olesinki's little sis is a doolie distance runner who ran a fabulous 3000m for the Falcons today while her bro was hitting a couple of 3's! They're the offspring of a former Polish olympian in the modern pentathlon, so they've both got some multi-sport skills.
The framework for this game began in 2012 during out of conference play for the Falcons. Air Force played an out of conference schedule that made them play against Mountain West Conference caliber teams at home and on the road. However, even with the plan for competition, Air Force did not have success during that time either at home or on the road. Air Force played close with Florida (now ranked #4) being within one with 16 left in the game but losing. They lost to now #20 Wichita State at home by 3 points after shooting only 14-25 from the FT line, did get blown out by now 75 RPI Richmond on the road as well as losing on the road to then #24 Colorado in Boulder.
Now fast forward to this game against #22 San Diego State. The #22 Aztec came into Clune arena as both a successful and very physical team. Air Force saw that tonight in 40 minutes of hard fought action. Last year's Mountain West Conference Player of the Year Franklin was everything he was built up to be and proved that on the court by scoring and rebounding. But the lessons learned and the experienced gained in those four OOC loses paid dividends. Air Force kept their composure even when losing the lead to SDSU to finally take and keep the lead to the final buzzer. San Diego never quit and had a tying shot at the buzzer, but it was off the mark and the Falcons beat them for the second year in a row at Clune Arena.
From a guest poster, 72EagleDriver, who summed it up well (with minor editing for this blog)....yeah....72Eagle you got top billing on my blog!!!
(Read 72Eagles post above)
Back to my take on the game (and thanks 72Eagle). I agree 100% that the key to this win was the coaching adjustments along the baseline defense. The last 7 minutes of the first half it was easy shot after easy shot for the Aztecs pulling them back into the game at halftime. They had to work harder in the second half without the easy buckets to find ways to score. No only did the Falcons stop the low block points, they played aggressive defense on the perimeter as well hassling the Aztecs most times whey they shot the three resulting in a 2-19 11% 3pt shooting night. Not always a strength for San Diego, but definitely hurt by the loss of scorer Thames (who did not play), Tapley's sore wrist and the Falcon defense.
In my keys to the game I said we needed to go inside out and how hard it would be against the long and physical Aztecs. Indeed they played tough inside and, even times when we got to the rim we did not always finish. But the Falcons attempted to do that and, of the 12-30 3's made, I believe at least 8 of them came off of passes from inside the lane to an outside shooter. The second key to the game was the depth of both benches and what AF had to do to succeed was to not just get minutes but also get points off the bench. AF played 6 players who outscored SDSU 23-6 off the bench and while giving 57 good offensive and defensive minutes (as compared to SDSU who played 3 off the bench for 36 minutes). I believe that depth and the ill health of Thames and Tapley contributed to the final score.
Great effort by Kam Williams, DeLovell Earls, Mike Fitzgerald, Marek Olesinski and, of course Taylor Broekhuis who all battled in the lane throughout the game. As we attempted to guard Franklin, so did the Aztecs in guarding Mike Lyons who still had 20pts (7-12/3-7/3-3FT/5 rebs) in a very good effort. Todd Fletcher a solid shooting night with 13pts on 5-8/3-6. No other s in double figures so this was a 'team win'.
Lastly, a giant shout out to the cadets of Section 8 and the fans in Clune. The noise level in the arena reminded me of those NCAA and NIT years, when Clune really was 'The Chamber' in cranking up the noise and supporting the Falcons. Biggest crowd this season at 5100 fans (with 6000 being a sold out Arena). One SDSU fan who made the game stated on their forum that he felt it truly was a noisy arena that his team played at. Thanks to all who attended.
Air Force (5-2) is now tied for 2nd in the MWC with CSU (5-2) (as of this writing, looks like UNLV will lose to Boise State so will drop out of the tie for 2nd into a tie for 4/5 with SDSU. Big game for first place on Wednesday when AF plays #20 NM (6-1) at the Pit. Following these teams are Boise St in sixth (3-4), Nevada (2-5), Wyoming (2-6) and Fresno St (1-6).
Great win for the Falcons. Good to see them not get rattled when SDSU made the final run. Now they need to go to the Pit and steal a win...or at the very least keep it competitive. With the MWC #3 in RPI, if this team keeps its focus they could be dancing come March.