Falcons shake rust - beat George Washington

Air Force mixed it up with the George Washington Colonials last night in the first round of the Cable Car Classic tournament. Both teams were coming back from a long break and the game stayed close in the 1st half but the Falcons found their game in the 2nd half and led by as much as 16. 81Stalagian provides the post game anaysis. Falcons play in championship game tonight against Santa Clara.

The Stalagian Report:
Serious fan thoughts on AFA's 66-52 win over George Washington in the 1st round of the 2006 Cable Car Classic

81Stalagian here with the post-game report. As usual, I'll assume most heard Jim's (Arthur) call on KVOR or watched Bolt Action or both. Typing this as Mrs. Stalagian drives up I-280 to Sonoma post-game...

First, let's start with major props for a very good George Washington (GWU) team. They're a very well AFA head coach - AP Photocoached and talented team that play incredible D for about 25 minutes. They'll be in the tourney--bank on it. I loved their coach. He and Bz (Jeff Bzdelik) were like generals on the battlefield for most of the game. Each had his own style and unique array of forces. They parried between timeouts and each team responded more often than not with some of the sweetest set plays I've seen. GWU played defense in depth, contesting every move and pushing our attack away from the key. Offensively, they were toughest up close in the trenches, rebounding very well. The Falcons responded with the classic indirect attack a la BH Liddell-Hart-- crisp passes around the arc, piercing back door layups when least expected, and long-range artillery ripping the target with GPS-like accuracy. But, enough for the metaphors... we beat a damn fine team and showed superbMM had a great game skill and character in doing so.

Though Jake was great and was named player of the game with 21 points, my MVPs on the court were Matty (Matt McCraw) and John Frye. Matt played the whole game, handled the ball well against withering pressure, shot the 3, and rebounded like he was the tallest guy on the court. GREAT game!

JD was THE key substitution in the game. After trading turnovers and misses to start the second half, Coach became a little frustrated by Nick's (Welch) defensive play. John Frye went in and had immediate impact. He blocked a big inside shot, grabbed two RBs, and posted up high and effectively on offense. For the first time, we controlled the key and the game changed abruptly. GWU had no answer. When the damage was done, Nick came back in, the passes were crisper, the 3's "opener", and GW couldn't follow the ball, leaving the cuts open.

At about this time, a raucous AF crowd made what IMHO was a game-changing cheer. The ol' AIR! FORCE! cheer was started at one side of the arena. The biggest AFA contingent was in theDN got cold but came back to his game - AP photo "endzone.". Some AF guy all alone on one side of the floor, all by himself screamed "AIR" so loudly that the officials looked up. The rest of the Blue Sky responded thunderously and for about a minute, we had a one-on-many cheer that ignited the arena. AFA returned from that TO to put on a 8-0 run and apparently break GW's back.

As for others, Tim was solid with a big 3, super ball skills and his usual platinum D. Danny (Nwaelele) had a couple of cold stretches but got hot when we needed him and drove effectively to the goal late to put it away. Andrew played well as a sub and hit a nice 3, too. His increasing maturity is remarkable--ready to step JB considering his options  - AP photoup.

Coach Bz was as animated as I've seen him. He knew the challenge before his team and worked as hard as they did throughout--as did the assistants. Late in the 1st half, I saw what appeared to be a glimpse of frustration and concern that, frankly, I've not seen in him all year. He didn't have all of the answers and wasn't sure what to do next. I was worried--very worried. Seeing that look made the Birds' 2nd half performance all the more impressive. He and the staff obviously regained their composure at half, got the strategy right, communicated it to the team, and executed it well. Fabulous leadership!!! He was really the MVP tonight.

Now for Santa Clara.
I watched the second half against Colgate. Let's just say that Colgate MIGHT give Colorado College Santa Clara big man - AP photoa good game, but I think the Tigers might take 'em. Santa Clara played down a bit. They supposedly had beaten cross-town rival Stanford by 15 recently, but I don't know how. Their center is 6'10" and 308. The key moves faster than this guy, due simply to the Earth's rotation. When he gets tired (every two trips down the court) they have a guy who's even slower--he's almost geologic. They do have a couple of quick guards and a senior power forward who can play, but we'd have to have a BAD night for this to be competitive. The SC fans sitting around me were actually hoping they'd play GW instead of us. They were very complimentary of the Falcons, loved our style of play, and many said they want to see what would happen in tomorrow's game.

Anyway, that's about all my thumbs can handle as I type this on my blackberry.  Friday, we'll have a few good hours of healthful wine-tasting, then take the 90+ minute drive back to Santa Clara to watch the Birds move up to 13-1 and continue their march to the top 10. Go Falcons! Buck the Broncs!!

A side note -  Thanks for the Friends of AFA Basketball  and others for the great turnout for pizza pregame at Stuft Pizza. That was fun!

81Stalagian is an avid Air Force sports fan and a regular at AFAFalcons.com

The Falcons meet the Santa Clara Broncos at 9pm (MT), Friday, 29 Dec 06.

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