Basketball Scouting Report: Air Force

Basketball season is here. How will the Army Black Knights try to pay back the Air Force Falcons, six days after their football team lost in Colorado Springs?


AIR FORCE AT-A-GLANCE

Air Force spent a good portion of February and March last season fighting for its NCAA tournament life. After picking up wins over New Mexico, UNLV, San Diego State and Air Force, the Falcons put themselves in contention for one of the 68 bids on the table. Unfortunately the Falcons couldn't get over the hump and came up a little short. As Air Force turns to 2013-2014, it must adjust to major losses on the roster, including the loss of its top six scorers, as the Falcons will witness a youth movement. Against Army, expect to see a number of new faces in the Air Force rotation with nine freshmen on the roster as both teams seek to grab a win on college basketball's opening day.

Projected Starting Lineup

Forward – Marek Olesinski –
Junior, 6-9, 220 2012-13: 3.5 points per game, 1.6 rebounds per game

The junior, much like Williams, appeared primarily off the bench in 2012-2013. However, he did play in 31 games. His four rebounds in 37 minutes in the team's recent exhibition game against Regis are a little alarming, since he'll likely be a guy Air Force relies on to rebound at the defensive end. It doesn't appear he'll be asked to carry a heavy offensive load. Yet, Army needs to be ready to expect a more proactive player on Friday afternoon.

Forward – DeLovell Earls – Junior, 6-6, 235; 2012-13: 3.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.5 assists per game

Earls was the other named starter left out of the team's exhibition-game lineup. The 6-6 junior is one of the rare returning players with significant starting experience for Air Force. He started in 22 games a season ago. The Falcons will rely heavily on their frontcourt for production. They can expect a guy who clearly earned Pilipovich's trust last season to be a go-to resource for rebounding and interior defense.

Forward – Kamryn Williams – Junior, 6-4, 193; 2012-13: 3.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg

One of two confirmed starters that coach Dave Pilopovich held out of the exhibition against Regis, Williams saw plenty of time a year ago. He appeared in 30 games last season. While his 3.3 points per game and 2.4 rebounds per game leave a lot to be desired at first glance, playing time was heavily divided among Air Force's six departing players. Expect Williams to be a huge key for Air Force this season.

Guard – Max Yon – Junior, 6-4, 198; 2012-13: 2.7 ppg, 1.1 rpg

Yon, along with teammate Tre' Coggins, faces the tall task of trying to replace the star of the Falcons the past few seasons, Michael Lyons. Yon primarily came off the bench last season, appearing in 26 games, but he performed well with Coggins in the team's recent exhibition loss to Regis University. He figures to be the second option in the backcourt but can't be ignored.

Guard – Tre Coggins– Sophomore, 6-2, 185; 2012-13: 2.4 ppg, 1.4 rpg

Coggins performed extremely well for Air Force against Regis, and he now takes on the role of the leader in the backcourt for a team that's desperate for guidance. He stands at 6-2 but shows a little bit of everything with his ability to score, move the ball, and even crash the glass occasionally. His six steals in the team's exhibition game against Regis will show opposing offenses that they must be careful in handling the ball and making passes when he's in the area.

Keys to the Game

1) Limit turnovers.
In a season-opening game, no one should expect perfect fluidity or crispness in a halfcourt offense. Simply being able to end possessions with shots will matter in a game such as this one. Minimizing turnovers – especially live-ball turnovers that Air Force can turn into easy fast-break buckets – must be avoided.

2) Rebound well at the defensive end of the floor. Air Force does not have a lot of size, so Army has to protect its own backboard. If the Black Knights can achieve this modest goal, they should remain competitive for 40 minutes, and they might very well be able to win.

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