Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Friday, November 29, 2013

2013 Air Force Basketball Teaser

It's a whole new roster in the Springs.  Gone is the superlative Michael Lyons, who dropped 51 points in two meetings with the Buffs, along with four other senior starters who combined to produce 72% of scoring last season.  Without them, it's no wonder the Falcons are struggling to start '13-'14, and are projected to finish somewhere near the bottom of the Mountain West.
The Falcons really miss Lyons and his scoring touch.
Their three wins this year have come over fellow cellar-dwellers Army, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and Division II Colorado Christian.  Losses have come against VMI (yeesh), Jackson St (CU beat them by 24 despite playing poorly), and, Wednesday night, Richmond by 23.  By that run alone you can tell this is a team in transition, embarking on a long slog that will be more ugly than entertaining.  The harsh truth is that Air Force is a candidate for 250+ RPI status this year, which sucks because even a big win over them can end up hurting come Selection Sunday.

Statistically, as you would expect, it has been pretty grim.  Defensively, they've been giving up over an adjusted 1.1 points per possession, while averaging over 16 turnovers per game on offense.  Overall, it's a profile of a team that struggles inside and against athleticism.  They get less than 43% of their points from two-pointers, and have been blocked 30 times already.

The current roster revolves around a trio that has started every game this season, and who have combined to average 44 points per game.  Guards Tre' Coggins and Max Yon run the backcourt.  The sophomore Coggins is the primary point, and rarely leaves the court.  Why would he, when he's the team's best scorer (over 17 points per game)?  Yon, a 6-4 junior, is a nice compliment from the two-spot, and can attack the rim.  Up front, 6-9 junior forward Marek Olesinski is good at stretching defenses.
Coggins is trying to step into the do-it-all shoes of Lyons.
There is some reason to be nervous here for the more skittish members of BuffNation.  Coggins, Yon, and Olesinski all shoot over 40% from deep, and the Falcons can play zone from tip to final whistle.  Perimeter defense and scoring against the zone have long been issues for the Buffs, and Saturday could get uncomfortable for that fact alone.  The Buffs will have to actually guard the arc, and ramp up the ball movement on offense to claim the easy victory expected.

I know the Cadets, much like CSU, would make their season with a win over the Buffs, so expect their best shot, but I have a hard time seeing a competitive game Saturday.  Air Force just isn't good this season.  The only things that make me pause is the fact that any road game in college sports is difficult, and that Colorado may be looking ahead to bigger games against bigger names next week. Still, if the Buffs struggle throughout the 40, or even, God forbid, lose this one, there's something seriously wrong.  I expect a double-digit victory.

Tip-off from Clune Arena in Colorado Springs is set for 2pm on Saturday.  Coverage can be found on something called the Mountain West Network, with the radio call on 760 AM.  For those wondering, yes, the Mtn. is still dead and buried.  The Mountain West Network is what they're calling their digital streaming these days.  Unfortunately, much like the Mtn, it's underfunded and poorly designed.  Try this link at game time and see what you find.


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