Periodically I will publish opinion/comment columns from some of AFAFalcons.com regulars. These are registered posters that do a remarkable job of posting pre and post game reports on our forum boards to keep all our fans up to date on Falcon games and happenings. These folks deserve a bigger readership for their fine efforts. This is a post game report posted to AFAFalcons.com basketball forum on 2-19-05 by 81Stalagian. Good job!
Photos by AP
Sorry for the late report, folks, but I'm just getting back to the hotel
after dinner and some celebrating this BIG win. I was ring-side for all of it,
and it was amazing...
If someone had told me before the game that Danny Nwaelele & Matt McCraw would score a total of 3 points and John Frye would get exactly one RB, I'd have guessed we lost by 20, but (happily) that was not the case.
The Huntsman Center was about 1/2 full at tip-off and the crowd wasn't into the game. The place is cavernous when empty, so there was not much crowd involvement. their student section was dinky with only about 150 students and a 50 member band that was loud, but not a big issue. Andrew Henke seemed to like to clap to the Ute fight Song during times-out--somewhat annoying.
The game started with 3 straight TOs before the teams settled down. The Falcons had plenty of chances to take control of the game given the numerous Ute turnovers, but we just weren't hitting the 3's early. The game resembled the Air Force-Utah game at Clune, except we just didn't hit.
Luke Nevill just camps in the key. Worst I've seen all year. If the refs had just called 3-seconds ONCE in the first half, it would've changed the entire complexion of the game--we'd've won by 20. His moving screens were amazing, and never called.
The ref crew--I didn't recognize one of them from previous games--actually called what I thought was the best half I've seen all year. Very little controversy, few falls, and a lightning fast half.
Mark Holum played a GREAT half with super assists and two inside moves that matched 'Toines (Antoine Hood) one-on-one moves. Each had two baskets that way in the half. Mark's really coming into his game just in time to really make a difference.
Frye hit his first big 3 late in the half to go up 24-19 and I thought we were on our way to a blow-out in the 2nd half. Burtschi was hitting the boards hard and (I thought) it was only a matter of time before our shooters got hot. The half passed incredibly quickly because of the total of only 6 fouls.
At half, coach (Jeff Bzdelik) told the team to continue to work on penetrating and throwing out for the 3, but to take the inside game if we got it. We were only down 2 in RBs and he was pleased. The half-time attitude seemed very calm and content with our situation--but focused. They wanted to come out hot and take control.
That didn't happen. We missed good looks at three straight 3's and UU was making a move. We stopped their move with some great moves and the first of John's big 3's, and just when we thought we were in control and it was time to move to a double-digit lead, the bottom fell out...
Nevill was completely camped in the key-must've been 6 seconds--when Jake just lost patience and cross-checked him out of bounds. It was a hard foul, but should NEVER have been called intentional. It was a VERY poor call that resulted in AT LEAST a 4 point swing. Then Johnnie Bryant got hot from 3-land and we were in an amazing dog-fight. The crowd, now up to 12,000 got serious, too, and became deafening. He hit a huge deep 3 to put the Utes up by 2--a 9 point swing since our largest lead of 7 at 10:49. Now it was 5:35 to go and we were down by 2!
From there, it was like a heavy-weight fight. Nevill, from his campsite in the key, slammed home what seemed like 3 straight 'flushes' off of O-RBs when we didn't box out. Frye countered with net-ripping 3s. The Ute defense was outstanding, pushing our shooters further and further out and not allowing any uncontested 3's by our usual shooters (Danny, Matt, and 'Toine). Markson and Green added 3's and the clock was moving WAY too fast.
The last couple of times out were remarkable. The Birds weren't panicking at all. Coach Bz spoke calmly and cooly, telling the players exactly what he expected. We missed our three and Utah headed down the court. Obviously, we fouled the right guy, and Shaun Green had the only missed FT of the night. The 3 by Jake wasn't anything special or different from the normal offense. They'd shut down John now, Matt and Danny were covered, 'Toine was on the other side of the key, when Danny made a big pass to Jake. Nothing but net at T-16 secs.
Again, the time out was calm. Everyone expected the ball to go into Nevill, but he was doubled and (by now) so tired he could barely make it down the court. The missed shot wasn't even close--a weak fade-away jumper that never had a chance. We managed to box out and the ball went out with 1 second left. The Utah staff and players just seemed to give up at this point. they didn't even try to deny the in-bound and play for a 5-sec call. Our in-bound pass was easy. Game over. Celebration.
Matt and Danny didn't shoot well, but they combined for 5 assists and only 1 TO. Both contributed key RBs and played solid D. The defense of Tim Anderson was as usual--amazing. On one key play, he was covering Nevill man-to-man and shut him down cold.
John Frye's game was reminiscent of the GT game. He played super offensively inside with a couple of great passes, some super lay-ups, and 3s that were smooth as glass.
Jake led the way with 8 RBs and 18 points. You could tell the Utes and their fans just hate him. I love it.
Overall, the game was well-ref'ed except for the intentional call and a few missed traveling calls on both teams. Again, a 3-sec call could've been huge, though.
Coach Reynolds said, after the game, this is the type of game that champions win. Damn right.
I was very impressed with the calm confidence of the players and staff. Focused intensity, execution, teamwork. Can't say enough about these guys.
The UNM game better be a sell-out. We've got a GREAT shot at completing the regular season 24-5 now. Let's pack the place!
Flying back to the Springs tomorrow. See y'all on Wednesday!
Post game story by AFAFalcons.com regular poster "81Stalagian"