AFA at CSU Post Game

Stalagian's post game report of Air Force's win over Colorado State in AFA's final regular season game. Played at CSU's Moby arena, the Falcons were not alone as 81Stalagian and a large contingent of Air Force fans made the trip to watch their team defeat the Rams.

The Stalagian Report:
Post game commentary of the Air Force win over Colorado State 63-59

The Falcons closed out their regular season with a THRILLING win at CSU  in a very physical and emotionally draining game for both teams. I sure am glad the wife convinced me to make the trip--she drove so I could concentrate Air Force fanson pre-game issues!

First, let me say that Long Blue Line stretched all of the way from the North Gate (at USAFA)  to Moby Gym today. We had AT LEAST 1000 Falcon Fanatics at Moby, including a good 100 of the Section 8 crazies. We dominated the noise level in the game and I'm sure the fans and players felt like it was a home game in "The Chamber." Every time CSU got a chant going, we drowned them out with either "De-FENSE" or "Let's Go -- Air Force" of "AIR --- FORCE!" Their band even obliged us once for the "Go, Air Force, Go" song that we all stood and cheered and sang! Monumental road effort fans! Let's double the turnout for the Tourney.

Okay, now for the game... We hit a quick three and then went cold. Before long, we we had more turnovers than points, trailing 8-3. Like the last couple of games, it was largely a game of runs by both teams: 5 or 8 each way all game long. The Birds put on the next run and took a 13-8 lead on some great ball handling and 3-point shooting. Then, as soon as it started, we fell backward and they would move the ball inside. Seven TOs in the first half (5 or 6 were Jake's) and some poorly chosen shots really hurt. Additionally, we were not doubling down as quickly on their big men, giving Creason and Smith some easier shots that they should've seen. Creason, in particular, was quite adept at backing out guys down for a turnaround 3-footer or a lay-up. Smith rebounded well for the Rams, plus they got some lucky deep bounces off of 3-point misses that set them up.

The Falcons weren't looking too good at half time, with lots of TOs, only 7 points total by Danny Nwaelele and Antoine Hood ('Toine), John Frye already with 2 fouls, several missed lay-ups, a few key shots blocked, and Jake playing out of control for the most part.

The second half Buzzwas a serious gut-check for the Falcons and really drove home to the fans how mentally tough this team and its staff is. Coach Jeff Bzdelik made adjustments at the half that were just as effective and impressive as we've come to expect. AFA was a step quicker to the big men right off the bat. Smith and Creason got a couple more shots, but we were MUCH more effective at fronting them both. Harrison was shut down throughout the game by 'Toine and Danny. Mark Holum and Eric Kenzik got some quality time on defense, too. On the big men, the most effective defenders were our two shortest players on the court--Matt and Tim. Tim had an awesome block off the baseline drive in the second half that caused a huge momentum shift and was a key stop.

(And now for the ejection play...)

The second was just as streaky. We moved to within a few points and the AF crowd was getting into it again when CSU came down the court. The ball got loose and was heading out the baseline when JakeBall hawk Burtschi snapped it up and called time-out in mid-air. The ref acknowledged the call right away and Jake ran towards the AF bench (other end of the court) right away. As usual, though, Layer was 5 steps onto the court and coming out further as Jake ran parallel to the benches and completely on the court. He ran into Layer and immediately put his hands into the air and began apologizing. The CSU player (Robinson) came straight off the bench and pushed Jake with both hands on a dead run. With this, Bzdelik came sprinting down the court to grab Jake. Jake didn't react--he just kept retreating while the CSU bench cleared moving towards him. The AF players got away quickly and Layer helped get his players under control--as did the refs. The refs then conferred and Robinson was tossed, the T assessed. Layer through a fit and Robinson should be suspended into next year for his behavior. He ripped off his jersey and stomped around. What a baby.

The CSU fans didn't like Jake already--and now they booed him whenever he touched the ball. As most of you know, that only made him play better. I think the T FTs by Danny tied the game at 44. CSU followed a minute later with a hoop to regain the lead and then the Birds went on a run. As I recall, we moved up to 53-46 and it looked like the game was over--but CSU battled back.

Break, break--CSU's a talented team with a LOT of heart. They had dozens of chances to fold, but refused to do so. the refs helped here... They called MANY ticky-tack fouls in the second half that didn't seem to go both ways. Smith and Creason starting camping in the key to counter our defense and CSU took a short-lived lead by one late. Big RBs and bigger stops made the difference down the stretch, though.

Antoine played a COMPLETE game. 'ToineAwesome defense and great ball-handling--superb rebounding. He should be conference player of the year--he's at least the defensive player of the year. Matt McCraw was hot, hot, hot--and just as strong defensively and handling the ball. I still think he should called "glass" on his one long 3. His best overall game in conference play,Shootin' three IMHO. Tim Anderson, Big Tim, TA--wow! Tim's breakout game where he became the offensive threat. His 3's were beautiful--as pretty as his Tenacious D (hey, that's a band's name isn't it?). Danny didn't have a great shooting night, but contributed with some excellent passing inside. Danny was blocked several times by Smith and settled into playing a supporting role very effectively. Jake, I think, was playing over his head because his parents were there watching. The first half was his worst of the year. But, as has so often been the case, he came back to play near flawless ball in the second half. His steals were great and his fronting D against Creason in the second was vital. It's too bad John got some cheap fouls early (one good call and a couple of standing still fouls because Smith and Creason decided to shoot against his stationary, vertical arms). He played well when he was in, passing the ball well and getting a great tip-in off an ORB and catching a pass in the lane for a big 2-pter in the second.

Super win, Birds! It was worth the gas and ticket price and more! Kudos to the CSU team and their fans. They were classy--honoring even our seniors on their Senior Day. They kept their cool after the ejection and no one got ugly despite ample opportunity to do so. Two CSU fans walking out of the game were overheard saying "It's a good win for AF. I don't mind them winning at all. They needed this one to get in the tourney and Bzdelik's done a great job. I hope they get in and do well!" I was impressed--it's nice to have a strong, but healthy rivalry.

Final note: The ejection was really Layer's fault--and the fault of the MWC and our refs. They MUST get control of the coaches (e.g., Layer, McClain, and McKay). Hard to fault Robinson for over-reacting when his coach and others are out of control all game long without repercussions. Get these guys in their box and keep them there--a few "T's" would solve this pretty quickly...

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