Around the Rim: Air Force at Nevada Preview

The Air Force Falcons come to Reno on a three game losing streak, and to make things worse, their leading scorer Tre' Coggins did not make the trip. The Nevada Wolf Pack on the other hand look to remain hot in the Mountain West.

Air Force Forward Justin Hammonds
Not a very tall team, 6-6 Hammonds plays like an undersized center. Hammonds does not have much of an outside shot, only attempting 15 threes all season and only making five. While Hammonds is not effective behind the arc, he is shooting 55% from the field otherwise often getting shots close to the rim. Air Force will need to find easy ways to score and Hammonds can often provide easy baskets. Only averaging 9.2 points per game on the year, Hammonds will be especially important with Coggins, the teams leading scorer and best player, out for the game. In the Falcons last game against Boise State, Hammonds got to the line 11 times, something he will need to duplicate to get a win over the Wolf Pack.

Air Force Forward Marek Olesinski
The Falcons make nearly eight three pointers a game. They shoot the shot at an efficient 38% rate. Nearly every player on their team is a threat from anywhere on the floor including the 6-9 Olesinski. The junior has started every game this year for the Falcons and is averaging 12.4 points per game and 5.5 rebounds a game. Like most players on the team, you cannot let Olesinski spot up from behind the arc because he is shooting over 40% from three. In a game this year against Arkansas Pine Bluff he made six in a game. Nevada will likely put the athletic 6-8 Cole Huff on Olesinski who can keep up with Olesinski around the perimeter but also compete on the boards.

Nevada Center A.J. West
This will be an interesting game for West. On the offensive end, West could have an absolutely dominant game against the undersized Falcons. One of the biggest strengths for the 6-9 transfer is his offensive rebounding and ability to score off those rebounds. If the Falcons cannot get a big body on West to keep him off the boards, West could have 15 or more points on the day simply because he works hard on the boards. The problem for coach David Carter is deciding whether or not West will be a defensive liability. West is a great defender and shot blocker when being able to protect the rim, but when he is brought away from the basket and forced to defend the pick and roll he gets into a bit of trouble. For the Falcons and coach Dave Pilipovich pulling West away from the rim has to be part of the game plan. So will West's offense outweigh the potential for disaster on defense? The answer could determine the winner on Saturday.

With Tre' Coggins this game was a toss up. Without him Nevada should be a big favorite. But no game in the Mountain West is an easy game, so Nevada will have their hands full come Saturday but should pull away in the second half.
Nevada 70 Air Force 61

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